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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: June 28, 2018 01:09 PM
From: Senator Randy Vulakovich and Sen. Jay Costa, Sen. Wayne D. Fontana
To: All Senate members
Subject: Cities of the 2nd Class - Parking Tickets by Mail
In the near future, we plan to introduce legislation that would allow the Pittsburgh Parking Authority to establish a 'ticket by mail' program to supplement their enforcement activities. The legislation would provide:
  • Authorization to issue tickets by first class mail instead of placing them on a windshield;
  • Faster access to PennDOT information related to each ticket;
  • A mandated two-day ticketing window, so if a ticket is not placed in the mail within two business days of the infraction it must be canceled;
  • The ability to use unattended license plate reading cameras to observe and document parking citations and administer parking laws; and
  • The power to issue tickets for obstructed license plates.
Currently the Pittsburgh Parking Authority issues all citations by placing them on the windshield of the offending car. They would like the ability to place a ticket in the mail by the close of the next business day after the infraction occurs, provided they are authorized to electronically access vehicle registration information via JNET. As you know, tickets served on a windshield often blow away in high wind, or while a motorist is driving. The tickets can also be damaged by weather. Sometimes people simply remove tickets from vehicles as a prank, or a motorist who receives a ticket will place it on the car next to them hoping the unwitting recipient will simply pay the ticket without giving much attention to the details. There is also an officer safety issue for the Authority. Parking enforcement officers are regularly physically confronted when issuing a ticket. While officers are instructed to deescalate these situations, they are not trained law enforcement professionals and are unnecessarily placed in harm’s way. A notification by mail would eliminate the opportunity for these confrontations to take place. Finally, issuing tickets by mail would provide tremendous efficiencies for the Authority. If an officer does not need to stop at a vehicle, print a ticket, or place the ticket on the car, they can cover more ground in a day, thus ensuring greater compliance.

There are some parking infractions that are very difficult to enforce. For instance, in Pittsburgh tickets are written for vehicles that are parked on the street during street sweeping by Department of Public Works. An officer must follow the street sweeper, observe the violation as the street sweeper passes a car, write a ticket for each car, and place the ticket on the windshield. It is very time consuming and it slows street sweepers down to the point where they often can’t complete their street sweeping routes as they wait for the officer to print and place the ticket. By providing the authority to mount unattended license plate reading cameras on vehicles such as street sweepers, to observe and document parking citations the driver could operate the camera for the purposes of evidence collection. The data from a License Plate Reader would be uploaded to enforcement servers where it would be verified by an officer and either approved or rejected as a ticket before it is put in the mail.

Finally, the Pittsburgh Parking Authority currently tracks permits, meter payments, and citations by license plate number. Therefore, if a license plate is obstructed they are not able to verify its parking rights. Some drivers are obstructing their license plates with placards or with plastic screens that make it difficult to read the numbers. Current state law allows police officers to write tickets for obstructed license plates, however the law does not allow parking authorities to do so. The Pittsburgh Parking Authority is also asking for this authority.

Thank you for considering cosponsoring this legislation. If you have any questions, please contact Nate Silcox of Sen. Vulakovich's Office, Stephen Bruder of Sen. Costa's Office, or Colleen DeFrank of Sen. Fontana's Office.

Introduced as SB1223