11Alive Help Desk Wipes Out Double Fines for Parking Tickets

7:32 AM, Sep 17, 2010   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- The 11Alive Help Desk made a unique request to the Atlanta Municipal Court, and it could save you a bundle.

It involves hundreds of people who got Atlanta parking tickets from mid-July to mid-September and now have to pay double the fines.

One of them was Katha Dewees.

She got her parking ticket at Hartsfield-Jackson as she waited at curbside.

She tried to pay the $25 fine but couldn't pay it either online or by phone.

Her fine doubled to $50.

"I called the number that was listed on the ticket. I put the citation number in. It said citation number not found. Then I tried to talk to a person. Every time I would take the option to talk to an operator it would disconnect me," Dewees said.

The Help Desk found that a computer virus had crippled the Atlanta Municipal Court touch tone and online system for much of the summer.

Anyone trying to pay a parking fine either got disconnected or the phone went dead. Fines then quickly doubled.

The Help Desk took a unique approach.

We asked the Chief Judge of the Atlanta Municipal Court to issue an Order waiving the added fees that people were being forced to pay.

It would be a first for the Court.

Chief Judge Crystal Gaines responded quickly and did just that.

"We have signed an Order granting amnesty. We are going to waive all late fees on parking tickets issued between July 22 of this year and September 14 of this year," she said. "Just pay your regular parking fee and the Order will make sure that you don't have to pay your late fee."

The Help Desk asked Judge Gaines if anything like this had ever been done before.

"Never," she said. 

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