City does away with jail time for unpaid parking tickets

Abby Hoover
Managing Editor


Kansas City will establish an administrative tribunal for parking tickets and other non-violent city ordinance violations, the most recent of the city’s steps to reform the judicial system.


Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Quinton Lucas and Sixth District At-Large Councilwoman Andrea Bough sponsored the ordinance, which passed 10-2 during the City Council’s legislative session on Thurs., August 27. Council members Heather Hall, first district, and Dan Fowler, second district, voted against the measure. Second District At-Large Councilwoman Teresa Loar was absent.


“An unpaid parking ticket or non-moving violation should never result in incarceration, and I am proud that today we continue our work toward a more just legal system for our community,” Lucas said. “Real reform means creating an alternative means of accountability for violations that previously resulted in incarceration—and rejecting overly punitive measures that disproportionately harm poor Kansas Citians. I appreciate Councilwoman Bough’s partnership in this important work.”


The Kansas City Administrative Tribunal will create alternative means of accountability and prevent issuance of warrants for unpaid parking tickets and other non-moving violations. It will operate under the supervision of the Parking and Transportation Commission.


The administrative tribunal will hear testimony and review relevant evidence, preserve and authenticate hearing records and evidence, issue written findings of fact and decisions, and impose fines.


“As a lawyer, I am fully aware of inequities in the judicial process for those not able to have legal representation to avoid incarceration and a criminal record for minor offenses and violations,” Bough said. “This initiative is geared to provide an alternate administrative system that does not impose criminal consequences for minor violations.”


The ordinance, an amendment to Chapter 70 of the city’s Code of Ordinances, does not apply to violations of any Code of Ordinance section that prohibits the following: operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of intoxicants; operating a vehicle with a counterfeit, altered, suspended or revoked driver’s license; causing injury to another person; causing property damage; or fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer.


Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson thanked her colleagues pushing for this change.


“There are certain things that people should never be caged for — parking tickets is one,” Robinson said.


The City Attorney will report back no later than September 29, 2020, to the Special Committee for Legal Review on the progress being made in developing the administrative adjudication system. Ordinance 200677 will become effective October 15, 2020.

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