NYC Leaves Millions On Table In Uncollected Parking Tickets, New Report Finds

The city is potentially missing out on more than $100 million in unpaid parking tickets and fees from 2012 to 2019, according to an audit from the State Comptroller’s office.

The city’s Department of Finance (DOF) is responsible for collecting parking fines and fees for people inside and outside of the state. But the audit determined that the DOF has lagged behind in collections: after reviewing some 262,765 cases over a seven year period between January 2012 and February 2019, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli identified $108,314,492 in outstanding fines.

“We determine that DOF did not maximize collection of fines and fees owed for parking violations. NYC has large outstanding balances due from summonses for parking violations, and DOF has not always taken timely action to collect the fines and fees,” the Comptroller’s report asserts.

The city issued more than 34 million red light, bus lane, school speed zone and parking violations worth $2.8 billion during the time period covered by the audit.

In a random audit of 153 cases worth more than $2 million in unpaid tickets, the comptroller’s office found the finance department only took action to collect money in 35 of the cases.

The comptroller’s office hopes the report will compel the finance department to do more to collect on unpaid tickets.

This report comes after an uptick in speeding tickets. During the pandemic, particularly in the first few months, there was an increase in speeding tickets issued to drivers, even as the number of drivers on the road decreased.

The Department of Finance is responsible for collecting tickets to cars with owners living in New York City. For all other vehicles it relies on the New York City law department, which hires a private law firm to collect money on car owners who live in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. It’s unclear how the city collects on drivers from other states.

In its recommendations for the city, the comptroller’s office suggests increasing enforcement, particularly of vehicles registered in New York, with owners who live out of state. The report suggests these are cases that may be falling through the cracks.

The Department of Finance told Gothamist/WNYC that the statute of limitations for speeding and parking tickets is eight years, and that the department expects to collect millions in the coming years.

“Additionally, some Department of Finance enforcement such as booting vehicles for parking tickets has been suspended during the pandemic. A resumption of these efforts as conditions improve will further increase Department of Finance collections,” a Department of Finance spokesperson said in a statement.