The city of Raleigh is offering drivers with delinquent parking tickets a deal: pay off all the tickets now owed and the city will waive the $20 late fee, or ignore the offer and risk getting the boot.
And by boot, city officials mean the cumbersome metal device that locks onto the wheels of a car, preventing it from being driven.
The city's amnesty program runs from Jan. 16 until Feb. 16, and is aimed at collecting a good proportion of the $1.4 million in fines and late fees now owed by drivers who are ignoring the 56,000 tickets they've run up.
After Feb. 16, the city intends to crack down on repeat offenders by using the boot. Candidates for booting are drivers with at least three tickets delinquent for three months or longer.
By summer, traffic officers will use hand-held electronic ticket printers that flag the license plates of repeat offenders.
While tickets are written for parking violations whenever they are discovered, there are two areas where the demand for parking far exceeds the number of available spaces -- downtown Raleigh and around the North Carolina State University campus. In both spots, cars can be found daily with windshields abloom with yellow parking tickets.
Under the amnesty program, violators have to pay off all their old tickets to have late fees waived. People whose cases have moved to court will not be absolved of paying court costs. Drivers who work out a payment plan with the city won't have their cars booted.
The amnesty plan is not expected to lose money. The late fees waived for the month will be more than covered by the value of the tickets paid off.
To participate in the amnesty program, bring payments to Room 106 of City Hall, 222 W. Hargett St. Even if you have discarded the tickets, the staff can find what you owe by checking your license plate number.
Drivers also can mail payments to the Parking Violations Office, P.O. Box 590, Raleigh, N.C. 27602.
For more information, call the parking office at 890-3230