Local Official Thinks It’s Uncool To Pay $25 Parking Ticket In Pennies, But Affirms Man’s Right To Do So

A Pennsylvania man who was rebuffed when he tried to pay a $25 parking ticket he owed to his borough entirely in pennies should’ve been able to use those coins, a local official said, but really, it was kind of rude for him to do so.

The handyman had found the $25 ticket on his work truck, after he parked it the wrong way on a street while he was picking up some tools at a house for about 10 mintues, he told the Chambersburg Public Opinion, and was annoyed at the amount.

“I just thought the amount of the ticket was ridiculous. I wasn’t parked at a hydrant, wasn’t blocking traffic or emergency vehicles,” he said.

He decided to use coins to tick someone off.

“I work too hard for my money and thought it would be fun to get back at someone, inconvenience them like they inconvenienced me,” he told the paper.

But when he plunked the payment of 2,500 pennies down on the borough office counter, he said an employee pointed to a notice on the bulletin board purporting to cite a federal regulation reading: “Federal law specifies pennies and nickels as small change and not legal tender for debts in excess of 25 cents.”

According to Borough Finance Director Jason Cohen, that regulation is Code 31 U.S. Code annotated, Sections 317 and 460. He added that the man could’ve paid in quarters and dimes.

What? That would mean if you owed the city a dollar, you couldn’t pay it in pennies, or 20 nickels. Sounds ridiculous, so where did the finance director get that idea? As one user on a Snopes.com forum about this very story notes, those sections of the legal code don’t appear to exist.

Indeed. According to 31 U.S.C.A. 5103:

United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts.

Another Snopes forum user pointed to a University of Tennessee’s MTAS program document that notes that previous versions of the statute that limited payments using minor coins has been amended to remove that language.

Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill affirmed the man’s right to pay the parking ticket with whatever coins he wanted to, sending newspapers a letter yesterday saying that the finance director was incorrect, reports PennLive.

However, Stonehill wrote that he could’ve gone about things another way if he wanted to make a point.

“I do not support this citizen’s protest. He is quoted in the newspaper admitting to illegally parking the wrong way on a street,” Stonehill wrote in the letter, referencing the man’s quote to the Public Opinion. “Finally, tormenting a borough cashier, rather than pleading not guilty to the offense in a court of law, which is his right, is not an appropriate protest, in my opinion.”

The man seems to have another opinion, telling the newspaper that he hadn’t paid the fine yet.

“I’ve been busy and I still have time,” he explained. “I’m trying to think of an alternative way to inconvenience them.”

Related: Man Does A Deep Dive Into Sofa Cushions, Pays $150K Court-Ordered Fee All In Quarters

Borough rejects pennies as payment for parking ticket [Chambersburg Public Opinion]
Parking fine can’t be paid with pennies, town says, but dimes are OK [PennLive.com]