Michigan Heightens Penalty for Unpaid Parking Tickets

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MSU graduate student Elise Bendeniste is no stranger to parking tickets. In fact, she's got four unpaid ones, now worth hundreds of dollars.

"I have a hard time paying back these parking tickets immediately or as promptly as they ask me to," Bendeniste said.

However, a new state law going into effect May 16th will be even less forgiving.

"When we're notified by a court district that a person has three or more unpaid parking tickets, we'll place a hold on their license and that means they won't be able to renew their license until they pay off those tickets," said Fred Woodhams, spokesperson for the Secretary of State's office.

With four unpaid tickets, Bendeniste falls into that bracket. If she doesn't act before the state, she could also be liable for a 45-dollar fee to remove the hold on her license.

"It kind of does worry me. I guess I wouldn't have a choice. I'd have to take that money from somewhere else, wherever else I spend it," Bendeniste said.

That might be exactly the type of sentiment local authorities want, with the hope the new law will help recoup the cost of unpaid parking fines. As an example, MSU sent about 4100 unpaid parking tickets to the district court in 2011.

In reaction to the change in state law, Lansing resident Wesley Monroe says the law is the law and he chooses to pay off his tickets quickly.

"As long as you pay them in the same day, it's much cheaper than waiting until the next day or next week," Monroe said.

Some would argue that's the best way to go, not only to avoid a hold on their license renewal but also late fees.

Under current law, drivers must accumulate six or more parking tickets before their license registration is placed on hold.

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