October 19, 2018

City Expects to Collect Fines with New License Plate Scanner

Oxford now has a license plate scanner that helps the city collect fines issued for expired and unpaid parking. Photo by Ashley Hetherington

The City of Oxford has a new technology to crack down on unpaid parking tickets.

In use since August, the automatic license plate reader is mounted to the frame of a parking enforcement officer’s vehicle. As the officer rolls past parked cars, the scanner registers the license plate of each car it passes. If a plate has an unpaid parking fine associated with it, the system is alerted. The officer can then have a parking boot put on the car, immobilizing the vehicle until the owner pays up.

Unlike tickets given by university police on the Miami campus, which must be paid before a student can graduate, city of Oxford tickets often are left unpaid as students move on. “So, we never get the fine revenue from those citations,” said Oxford Police Lt. Lara Fening, supervisor of parking personnel.

“I suspect with all the new technology, there will be a lot of fines” collected, she said.

Last year Oxford collected almost $100,000 in parking fees, but issued $55,971 in fines that went unpaid, according to city records. On Miami’s campus, fines are higher and where university officials can withhold a student’s diploma until fines are paid. Parking authorities booted 300 cars and collected $500,000 in fines last year, according to university police.  

Given the amount of uncollected fines in Oxford last year, the $32,750 license plate reader should more than pay for itself in a year.

The new scanner also will help Oxford enforce rules against “re-metering,” the common practice of feeding a parking meter so that it never expires. Technically, motorists are not supposed to leave cars at a meter for longer than the maximum time allowed on the meter. The scanner will allow officers to know how long a car has been in one spot.

“The meters are there for turnover. … Uptown, you want them to be able to come, eat, shop and then leave, and then the next customer can be able to come in,” said Angela Schatzle, public safety assistant for the city.

The money from the meters goes into the city’s general fund.

“The booting and the revenue we get is certainly helpful for the city projects, and definitely helps with streets and maintenance,” Schatzle said.