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Bad Drivers Owe NYC $1 Billion

That's around double the Parks Department's annual budget.

2:12 PM EDT on April 5, 2023

A minivan parked illegally in a public park with a ticket on the dash.

An illegally parked car a block away from the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse. (Hell Gate)

Would you believe that some of the same people who park their 5,000-pound SUVs smack dab in the middle of the fucking Midtown bus lane because they have to pick up a literal coffee or something, also do not pay the fines for these infractions?

According to an analysis from the City's Independent Budget Office, New York City taxpayers are owed a little more than $1 billion for unpaid parking tickets and camera violations that have accrued from 2017 through 2022, including late fees and interest.

That's around double the Parks Department's annual budget, but still less than what the NYPD spends in a year on overtime.

The IBO's report also notes that the City is owed another $1 billion and change in delinquent cash: some $940 million in catch-all, quality-of-life fines issued by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (like those owed by Mayor Eric Adams for the rat situation outside his Brooklyn apartment building) and another $150 million in unpaid property taxes and other construction-related fines.

"An extra $2.1 billion would go a long way toward funding legal service providers, keeping libraries open, and baselining critical positions at oversight agencies," Manhattan Councilmember Gale Brewer said in a statement. Brewer asked the IBO to compile the data, and framed the results against the backdrop of the mayor's latest directive to City agencies to cut their budgets again.

"City Hall is leaving billions on the table while slashing services and shrinking the municipal workforce. Cutting jobs at revenue generating agencies will result in even more uncollected cash," Brewer said.

The IBO couldn't say how much of that driver-related $1 billion was parking tickets or camera violations, but a Guardian story from this past summer noted that unpaid parking tickets alone were some $534 million, with $15 million of that chunk coming from diplomats. The City also gives deep discounts to repeat offenders like FedEx and UPS through its "stipulated fines and commercial abatement program," which essentially encourages these massive corporations to keep breaking the law.

I'll never pay my tickets have you seen my glove compartment?! you say, sipping your large Dunkin' Chocolate Caramel Cold Brew, as yet another M102 bus is forced to leave its dedicated lane because of your presence.

What if we told you that there was a way you'd never have to pay another parking ticket ever again?

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