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Empty Threats in Iowa

A printing error on unpaid parking ticket notices recently struck fear in the hearts of residents of Muscatine, Iowa. According to muscatinejournal.com, the notices informed drivers that their cars were going to be impounded if they did not pay their parking fines. The recipients questioned the validity and legality of these notices and were happy to be informed of the mistake.

When residents who received notices said they did not have multiple outstanding parking violations, Muscatine Finance Director Nancy Lueck said the city realized there was an error on the form. Lueck said the notices should inform residents they have a delinquent or unpaid ticket, not that impoundment is possible.

I don’t think impoundment is an unfair punishment for people who don’t pay their tickets. Maybe Muscatine should have just gone with the mistake and made it policy? It’s a lot of work impounding vehicles, so the city, which denies vehicle registration to scofflaws, is instead apologizing and reprinting their notices.

A few lessons learned:

1. People need to pay their tickets, because finding out your car is going to get towed is scary – whether the threat is real or not.

2. Cities might consider scaring people with misprinted notices more often. I bet those tickets got paid, even though the form was invalid.

3. Proofread your forms. It’s uncomfortable explaining mistakes to the media. It’s also a waste of money to print boxes and boxes of anything with incorrect information.

Read the article here.

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