Huntington offers amnesty to combat $1.8M in overdue traffic fines

Huntington offers amnesty to combat $1.8M in overdue traffic fines

Hearing set on new parking regulations to increase fines, crackdown enforcement on repeat offenders

The Town of Huntington's municipal parking lot between New and Green streets. File Photo by Rohma Abbas

Huntington residents have been given through April 1 to pay up on overdue parking tickets or face the possibility of stricter enforcement up to and including an immobilization boot.

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) announced the town will be offering a one-time 40 percent discount on the total balance of delinquent parking summonses through April 1, before looking to implement stricter fines and crackdown on violations. The program was proposed by Councilmen Mark Cuthbertson (D) and Ed Smyth (R).

“This is a great opportunity for residents to wipe the slate clean on outstanding parking tickets.”

— Ed Smyth

“Amnesty programs for parking violations have been very successful in communities across the country,” Cuthbertson said. “By offering our residents an amnesty program, it allows the town to reduce the amount owed on violations by 40 percent on all finds and surcharges, giving residents the chance to clear up outstanding debts.”

Currently, residents owe more than $1.8 million in the approximately 4,700 unpaid parking summonses and penalties to the town, according to the supervisor. Letters were mailed out by Feb. 19 to each individual who is eligible to take advantage of the parking violations amnesty program with details of their delinquent summonses and instructions on how to pay. 

“This is a great opportunity for residents to wipe the slate clean on outstanding parking tickets,” Smyth said.

The amnesty program will be one of multipronged approaches the town is taking in attempting to improve parking issues in Huntington. Lupinacci has proposed legislation to amend the town’s traffic code to increase fines for violations, enhance enforcement and help collect on parking violations.

Currently, drivers caught parking their vehicle in one of Huntington’s metered space without paying face a $25 fine. Under Lupinacci’s proposed changes, the same individual would be charged a minimum of $25 up to $75. Similarly, anyone parking in a handicapped spot without a permit could see the penalty jump from a flat $200 per incident up to a maximum of $600.

“If a person pleads guilty, they will get the minimum,” Town Attorney Nick Ciappetta said. “If a person proceeds to trial, the fine will be determined by the hearing officer. If a person fails to enter a plea and a default is imposed, the hearing officer imposes the fine.”

Other proposed changes to the town’s traffic and parking codes will include a requirement that parking summons and tickets be answered within 30 days or face an imposed default judgment, the nonrenewal of their New York State motor vehicle registration and possible immobilization. The resident will also not be allowed to obtain various town-issued permits, such as commuter parking permits or a recreational ID card, until the tickets are cleared up.

“We do believe stronger enforcement will encourage a change in driver behavior and end the abuse of time limits for free parking, both of which we expect to have a positive impact on the parking experience in downtown Huntington,” Lupinacci said.

A public hearing on the proposed traffic code changes is scheduled for the March 5 town board meeting set for 2 p.m.

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