Oklahoma City is owed millions in unpaid parking, traffic tickets

Oklahoma City is owed more than $13 million in unpaid parking and traffic tickets. But despite the large number of unpaid tickets, city officials said they are efficient in collections, receiving payments from about 90 percent of the tickets issued each year.
by Jonathan Sutton Modified: February 22, 2014 at 10:00 pm •  Published: February 22, 2014

Oklahoma City is owed more than $13 million in unpaid parking and traffic tickets, with some dating back to the mid-’90s.

Records show the city is owed $11,893,192 in unpaid traffic tickets and $1,410,675 in unpaid parking tickets.

Combined, that is more than half the roughly $20 million the city collects each year in parking and traffic violations.

But despite the large number of unpaid tickets, city officials said they are efficient in collections, receiving payments from about 90 percent of the tickets issued each year.

And for the rest, the longer it takes someone to pay, the worse it’s going to be when the city finally tracks them down.

How they collect

Oklahoma City handles parking and traffic tickets much like any municipality would. You get a ticket, and you have a certain amount of time to pay. If you don’t, they don’t forget about it.

Each time the city has to make an effort to track a person down or notify them of unpaid fines, the cost is added to the original fine.

Stacey Davis, director of Oklahoma City Court Administration, said that is why the unpaid amount looks so high. More than half the money owed has been added on since the ticket was written.

“The less you make us do, the cheaper it is,” Davis said. “If you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, it’s a downward spiral. And it can go down fast.”

Davis said the city starts the collection process by sending out first and secondary notices.

In the meantime, the city can place a boot on a car for unpaid parking fines.

But if the person ignores the notices for a couple weeks, the city will issue a warrant for that person’s arrest and court marshals begin the process of tracking the person down.

Bob Tunnel, chief deputy marshal, said he has as many as eight marshals out every day rounding people up on arrest warrants for myriad charges. But a good chunk of those result from unpaid parking tickets.

“It happens every day,” Tunnel said.

The marshals fan out around the city to scout addresses, go to houses and bring people in to face their fines.

Another way marshals bring people in is by checking all the jail logs from surrounding counties and cities to see if there’s anyone who has a warrant.

Additionally, there’s a deputy who works at the counter where people come to pay their fines.

“You’d be surprised how many people who come in here, and they’re mad about one ticket,” Davis said. “But the other five they owe money on, they don’t want to talk about those.”

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by Jonathan Sutton
Breaking News Reporter
Jonathan Sutton is a reporter covering breaking news and crime for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. He grew up in Ada and has a degree in journalism from Oklahoma State University. He was the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily O'Collegian, OSU's student...
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How to look up your ticket

•Online: www.court.okc.gov

Pay by mail: Enclose a copy of your ticket, write the ticket number on your check or money order — or write your credit card information in the space provided on the back of the ticket — and mail it to:

Oklahoma City

Municipal Court

P.O. Box 26487

Oklahoma City, OK 73126-0487

Note: Don’t mail cash.

Pay by phone: Use your Visa, MasterCard or Discover card to pay over the telephone.

Call 297-2361 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Pay in person: You can pay fines in person between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week at the Municipal Court Building, 700 Couch Drive.

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