Parking Ticket Mills: Don't Tell It to the Judge

OPEN GOVERNMENT — Did a private company process the parking ticket you recently paid?  If you contested the ticket, was your challenge summarily denied?  A CalAware member's current experience suggests that a secretive due process abuse reported by OC Weekly in 2006 is still in full vigor.

Before AB 408, drivers could be hauled off to jail merely for failing to pay a ticket that might have washed off in the rain. They were put into orange jumpsuits and released only after paying an exorbitant fine.
    Traffic and auto safety violations are still handled this way, but AB 408 decriminalized parking citations. It turned them into ordinary civil violations. This reform had two effects—one good, one bad: drivers are no longer hauled off for overstaying a green zone or running out of quarters to feed a parking meter. That's a good thing.
    But the reform accomplished this feat only by turning parking citations over to a privatized, unregulated, quasi-judicial Never Never Land. While drivers can still protest moving violations before a traffic court magistrate, parking tickets are a different matter.
*****
    In place of your day in court, AB 408 allowed public entities—cities, counties, colleges and transit districts—to contract with private agencies to provide "administrative hearings." In Orange County, most municipalities and the county government have contracted with outside companies.

For example, this one, whose professed commitment "to enhancing the revenue of the clients it serves" should warm a taxpayer's heart.

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