A blog item I posted earlier this month
on St. Louis City using a Texas law firm to collect on unpaid red-light camera tickets continues to generate chatter
on the Internets. And now, unfortunately, I'm part of the story.
A week ago I received my own collections letter
from the San Antonio law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson
for a ticket I received back in December 2007. That citation prompted me to investigate the city's red-light ticket
program. The story that subsequently followed exposed
how the city was legally powerless to collect the $100 fine for the tickets
Part of my research for the article had me going to court to argue my own ticket before the judge. I won, with Judge Margaret Welsh
agreeing that I came to a complete stop prior to turning right on red. Apparently, though, the court didn't pass along the paper work to camera vendor American Traffic Solutions
-- and a year later I'm still on the hook for $100.
Last week I called the number on my collections letter. Here's what I discovered when I finally got in touch with a human being.
Contrary to what I reported earlier (when I could not get in touch with anyone with Linebarger Goggan et al.) the person I spoke to informed me that unpaid tickets won't affect your credit rating if you choose not to pay them
. Instead, the Linebarger law firm will send your name back to the city where the police could issue a warrant for your arrest.
Right now, though, the city is not using that tactic, according to Mayor Francis Slay
spokesman Ed Rhode
, who told me earlier this month that the city has "elected not to go heavy-handed as our focus is on safety and changing behavior."
The person I spoke to at Linebarger also had little sympathy for my argument that a judge tossed out my ticket a year ago. "That's something you'd need to clear up with the court," he told me.
So, what am I going to do? Nothing. I'm going to wait and see what happens.
P.S. I've heard second-hand complaints from other people who say they either paid the $100 red-light fine or had their case thrown out by the court, yet they still received a collections letter from the Linebarger law firm
. If you fall into that category, I'd love to hear about it for a possible follow-up story. Please leave your story in the comment box below.