How A $36 Parking Ticket Cost A Driver More Than $800

You get a parking ticket and pay it a little late, so the fine goes up $33. That happens. You send off a money order and assume that must be the end of the transaction. Isn’t it? Not for one man whose ordeal with a parking ticket in San Jose, California began in December 2006 and didn’t end until this week.

What started with one little parking ticket snowballed into the man having his tax refund and paycheck garnished. He visited the DMV to register a car only a few months after the fateful ticket, and learned that he owed more than $200 in fines and penalties because the city of San Jose apparently doesn’t know how money orders work. He paid the fine again in 2008, but not before $286 of his tax refund was taken and $365 of his wages garnished.

The city of San Jose sent their account of the transactions to CBS Sacramento. It’s a little confusing, but still doesn’t explain how they could lose both payments.

Citation Issued on 12/07/06 on vehicle windshield
Courtesy Notification mailed 12/26/06 – $36 ($66 if paid after 1/09/07)
Final Notification mailed 1/18/07 – $66 ($69 if paid after 02/01/07)
$66 payment received on or before 6/25/08 – short $3
Notification mailed for $3 payment on 6/25/08
Received an additional $69 plus $3 money order on or before 7/25/08
Turbo mailed back the $3 money order on 7/25/08
Turbo mailed a $66 refund check on 8/28/08

The lesson to take home from this, apparently? Make sure your checks are cashed and that you can prove a government entity got your payment.

Call Kurtis: How A $36 Parking Ticket Cost A Driver More Than $800 [CBS Sacramento]