The Parking Ticket

When I was a student at the University of Iowa, I was terribly irresponsible about money. Among the many collectors who seemed to want a piece of me was Iowa City itself, due to my penchant for receiving parking tickets. I am proud to say, however, that I changed after leaving Iowa. In the 21 years since, I have received just two parking tickets (and never a moving violation). And one of those appeared on my windshield on the campus of the University of Queensland at 11:28 AM on May 19th, 2008.

I park at the university three days each week. This involves finding a place along Sir William MacGregor Drive, which runs along the river at the edge of campus. Parking permits are conveniently sold through little vending machines. You put in your $3 worth of coins and out comes a small receipt that you put on your dashboard. Of course, I do this all the time, but on the 19th of May, I put the receipt in my pocket and walked away. I came back to the car that day and found a little wispy slip of white paper under the wiper, which turned out to be a ticket for $30.

I put that wispy slip of paper in my pocket, fully intending to pay the ticket via the UQ website. But, I forgot about it. And, being that it was such a little slip of paper, it was later thrown away with all the other little receipts that we accumulate over the week. 

A few months passed, and I received a letter from UQ demanding that I now pay something like $60 for this delinquent parking ticket. Again, this notice was printed on such an insignificantly thin slice of paper (I've only seen paper this thin in Australia and Croatia) that it was soon lost in our piles of papers as well.  I should have gone to the UQ parking office and sorted it out then, but I forgot.

Now, nearly five months later, I have received a regular-sized envelope, with a letter printed on regular bond paper from the Queensland Government Department of Justice and Attorney-General, notifying me that I owed $97.50 for this original parking violation. It contained the following notice:
If you do not pay this order by the due date, a $84.00 enforcement fee may be added and the following enforcement action taken against you:
  • your driver licence could be suspended
  • your employer may be required to deduct a certain amount from your wage each month
  • your bank may be order to transfer money from your account to SPER (State Penalties Enforcement Registry)
  • an interest may be registered in your property or it may be seized and sold
  • a warrant could be issued for your arrest and imprisonment
Needless to say, I paid the fine today via the handy "BPAY" option.