Section 107-629; Ord. 19250; Amending Chapter 14 of the City Code as it relates to parking tickets


Ordinance No. 19250                            Council Bill No. B 405-06

     AN ORDINANCE

amending Chapter 14 of the City Code as it relates to parking tickets; and fixing the time when this ordinance shall become effective.

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF COLUMBIA, MISSOURI, AS FOLLOWS:

    SECTION 1.    Chapter 14 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Columbia, Missouri, is hereby amended as follows:

Material to be deleted in strikeout; material to be added underlined.

Sec. 14-306. Penalty for five or more unpaid summonses Contesting a parking ticket.

    (a)     Impoundment:

    (1)    Intent and purpose. This section is enacted as an enforcement procedure for protection of the public peace, safety and welfare, and the safeguarding of property, and shall be used generally for the prevention and removal of traffic hazards, prevention and abatement of public nuisances arising from traffic law violations, and for the protection of the public rights in the use of city streets and thoroughfares.

    (2)    Authority. Any vehicle having against it five (5) or more unpaid summonses or other process issued within an eighteen-month period, charging that the vehicle was parked, stopped or standing in violation of any ordinance is a public nuisance. Police officers and parking enforcement officers are authorized to impound such vehicle by means of a mechanical boot, or to have the vehicle towed at the owner's expense.

    (3)    Procedure. Impoundment shall constitute either impoundment by means of a mechanical boot or by towing to a place of impoundment. A "mechanical boot" is hereby defined to be a device consisting of metal clamps or jaws, screws and a padlocking device, which, when attached to a wheel of the motor vehicle, prevents that vehicle from being driven. A mechanical boot shall also include any other device, including the patented "Denver boot," which can be used by attachment to a wheel of a motor vehicle to prevent it from being driven.

        a.    Impoundment by means of a mechanical boot shall be limited as follows:

        1.    Impoundment shall not exceed twenty-four (24) hours, except that a police officer of the city may extend or reduce the period because of safety or traffic considerations.

        2.    No vehicle shall be impounded unless such vehicle is found on a public street or public lot, and has accumulated five (5) or more unpaid summonses or other processes for the parking provisions of this chapter.

        3.    No vehicle shall be impounded within the traveled portion of any street or portion of any street or sidewalk when the impoundment in such place would create a hazard to the traffic or the public.

        4.    Upon the lapse of the time period enumerated herein and the failure of the registered owner or admitted operator to pay or bond the outstanding summonses or other processes as herein provided, the city shall tow or cause said vehicle to be towed to a place of impoundment.

        5.    The registered owner or admitted operator of such vehicle may secure removal of the mechanical boot within the twenty-four-hour period either by payment and satisfaction of all outstanding parking fines and all fees associated with the impoundment of the vehicle or by appearing at the traffic violations bureau, posting bond for such fines and fees and requesting a date to appear before the municipal court with respect to such charges.

        b.    No vehicle shall be impounded under the provisions of this subsection unless the vehicle is on a public street or in a public lot.

    (4)    Entrance into impounded vehicles. If it is necessary to enter a locked or unlocked vehicle in order to impound such vehicle such entrance must be made in the presence of a commissioned police officer of the city. The police officer shall conduct a search of such vehicle as he deems necessary to protect the contents therein; provided, however, such search need not be a complete inventory.

    (b)     Notice to Owner--Contents of notice attached to vehicle. Whenever the police department has impounded, by means of a mechanical boot, a vehicle described above, a notice shall be placed on the windshield of such impounded vehicle indicating the time and date such immobilization device was placed on the automobile, along with a brief description of the provisions of subsection (a)(3)a.5. hereof relating to the means of securing removal of such mechanical boot within the twenty-four-hour period.

    (c)     Owner Responsibility. The registered owner of a vehicle having against it five (5) or more outstanding summonses shall be presumed to be the owner at the time the summonses were in fact issued and shall be severally responsible for the offenses and the impoundment, except where the use of the vehicle was secured by the operator without the owner's consent.

    (d)     Responsibility for Vehicle Safety, Records and Reports. It shall be the duty of the police department to apply and remove the mechanical boot and to safely keep any such impounded vehicle until such vehicle shall have been repossessed by the owner or person legally entitled to possession thereof or otherwise disposed of as provided in this ordinance.

    (e)     Release of Vehicle. Vehicles impounded pursuant to this section will be released to their lawful owner (or person entitled to possession) upon showing adequate evidence of a right to its possession and paying the payment of all accrued fines and costs for each outstanding unpaid summons, or depositing of the collateral required for his appearance in the municipal court of the city to answer for each violation for which there is an outstanding or otherwise unsettled traffic violation notice or warrant and, in addition thereto, the charges for impoundment and storage. The release should be signed by an authorized officer. All charges relating to the impoundment of vehicles by means of mechanical boot shall be as established by ordinance.

    (f)     Sale of Impounded Vehicles: Vehicles physically impounded by a private towing business may be sold pursuant to the procedure set out by state law.

     A parking ticket may be contested by submitting a written statement to the municipal court identifying the ticket and stating the reason that the alleged violation should not be prosecuted.  The statement shall contain the name and address of the person contesting the ticket.  A separate statement shall be required for each ticket being contested.  A written response shall be mailed to the person contesting the ticket within ten (10) business days of receiving the statement contesting the parking ticket.  The response shall state whether the prosecutor intends to initiate prosecution for the alleged violation if the ticket is not paid.

Sec. 14-307.  Impoundment of vehicles for unpaid parking tickets.

     (a)    A vehicle may be impounded if there are four (4) or more parking tickets issued against the vehicle which remain unpaid more than fifteen (15) days after issuance. If a parking ticket is contested, it shall not be counted as an unpaid ticket unless it remains unpaid after the vehicle has been finally adjudged to have been illegally parked.

     (b)    A vehicle shall not be impounded for unpaid parking tickets unless notice of eligibility for towing and impoundment has been affixed to the vehicle at least twenty-four (24) hours before the vehicle is towed.  The notice shall state that the vehicle is eligible for towing and impoundment for unpaid parking tickets and shall include contact information for paying or contesting the parking tickets and for requesting a hearing on whether the vehicle is eligible for impoundment.

     (c)    No vehicle shall be impounded under this section unless the vehicle is on a public street or in a public parking lot.

Sec. 14-308.  Hearing on eligibility for impoundment.

     (a)    The registered owner or any person with an interest in a vehicle who has been given notice that the vehicle is eligible for towing and impoundment may request the municipal court to conduct a hearing to determine whether the vehicle is eligible to be towed and impounded.  The request must be in writing and must state why the person requesting the hearing believes the vehicle is not eligible to be towed and impounded.

     (b)    The municipal judge shall set and conduct a hearing on the matter within fourteen (14) days of receipt of a proper request.  The court shall promptly notify all parties of the court’ s determination.

Sec. 14-309.  Notice of impoundment.

     (a)    When a vehicle has been impounded for unpaid parking tickets, notice of impoundment shall be mailed to the registered owner no later than the next business day following the impoundment.  The notice shall:

     (1)    Identify the vehicle and inform the owner why it was impounded;

     (2)    State where the vehicle is impounded;

     (3)    Inform the owner how the vehicle may be redeemed;

    ( 4)    Inform the owner that the vehicle is subject to a lien for towing and storage charges; and

     (5)    State that the owner may request a hearing concerning the legality of the impoundment and explain the procedure for requesting a hearing.

    ( b)    Notice is not required to be mailed if the identity of the owner of the vehicle is not available from the appropriate motor vehicle licensing authority.

Sec. 14-310.  Redemption of impounded vehicle.

     A vehicle impounded for unpaid parking tickets may be redeemed by its registered owner or a person authorized by the registered owner subject to the following conditions:

     (1)    The person redeeming the vehicle shows adequate evidence of a right to possess the vehicle.

    ( 2)    The person redeeming the vehicle provides a written statement from the municipal court that the vehicle may be redeemed.  The court shall provide this statement if all outstanding parking tickets have been paid or if a cash or surety bond has been posted for all unresolved parking tickets or if the court determines that for some other legal reason the vehicle must be allowed to be redeemed.

     (3)    All towing and storage charges have been paid.

Sec. 14-311.  Hearing on impoundment.

     (a)    The registered owner or any person with an interest in a vehicle impounded for unpaid parking tickets may request the municipal court to conduct a hearing to contest the validity of the impoundment. The request must be in writing and must state the grounds upon which the person requesting the hearing believes the impoundment is invalid or unjustified.  Except for good cause, the request for hearing must be filed within thirty (30) days after the vehicle was impounded.

     (b)    If the vehicle has been redeemed, the municipal judge shall set a hearing on the validity of the impoundment within thirty (30) days of receipt of a proper request filed under subsection (a).  If the vehicle remains impounded, the municipal judge shall set and conduct a hearing within forty-eight (48) hours of receipt of the request, not including weekends or city holidays, unless the person requesting a hearing, for good cause, requests a later hearing date.

     (c)    If the municipal judge finds that the impoundment of the vehicle was invalid or unjustified, the judge shall order the vehicle to be released immediately and the city shall pay the towing charges and storage charges up to the date of the hearing.  If these charges have already been paid, the city shall reimburse the person who paid them.

     (d)    If the municipal judge finds that the impoundment of the vehicle was valid and justified, the vehicle, if still impounded, shall remain impounded until redeemed pursuant to Sec. 14-310 or sold pursuant to state law.

Sec. 14-312.  Immobilization of vehicles for unpaid parking tickets.

     (a)    A vehicle may be immobilized by means of a mechanical boot if there are four (4) or more parking tickets issued against the vehicle that remain unpaid more than fifteen (15) days after issuance or, in the case of a contested ticket, after the vehicle has been finally adjudged to have been illegally parked.  A “mechanical boot” is a device that can be attached to the wheel of a motor vehicle to prevent it from being driven.

     (b)    Immobilization by means of a mechanical boot shall be limited as follows:

     (1)    Immobilization shall not exceed twenty-four (24) hours, except that a police officer may reduce the period because of safety or traffic considerations.

     (2)    No vehicle shall be immobilized unless the vehicle is found on a public street or public parking lot.

     (3)    No vehicle shall be immobilized within the traveled portion of any street or portion of any street or sidewalk when the immobilization would create a hazard.

     (4)    If the registered owner or operator of the vehicle fails to pay the outstanding parking tickets or fails to post a cash or surety bond for all unresolved parking tickets within twenty-four (24) hours, the city may have the vehicle towed to a place of impoundment.

     (5)    Whenever a vehicle has been immobilized by means of a mechanical boot, a notice shall be placed on the vehicle stating the time and date the immobilization device was placed on the vehicle, and briefly describing the means of securing removal of the mechanical boot within the twenty-four (24) hour period.

     (c)    The registered owner or operator of an immobilized vehicle may secure removal of the mechanical boot within the twenty-four (24) hour period either by payment of all outstanding parking tickets or by posting a cash or surety bond for all unresolved parking tickets.

Secs. 14- 307 313--14-320. Reserved.

. . .

Sec. 14-396. Violations.

    (a)     Every person convicted of a violation of any of the provisions of this division shall be punished as provided in section 1-8 of this Code, except that a fine shall not be less than five dollars ($5.00) if paid within fifteen (15) days of the violation and not less than ten fifteen dollars ($10.00 15.00) if paid more than fifteen (15) days after violation.

    (b)     Each hour that a violation of this division continues is a separate offense.

. . .

Sec. 14-426. Violations.

    (a)     Every person convicted of a violation of any of the provisions of this division shall be punished as provided in section 1-8 of this Code, except that a fine shall not be less than five dollars ($5.00) if paid within fifteen (15) days of the violation and not less than ten fifteen dollars ($10.00 15.00) if paid more than fifteen (15) days after the violation.

    (b)     Each hour that a violation of this division continues is a separate offense.

    SECTION 2.    This ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage.

    PASSED this 2nd day of October, 2006.