By Alan Sorensen
Havre parking fines tripled last spring, giving motorists added incentive for obeying the citys parking regulations.
And it seems to have worked to some extent, City Judge Joyce Perszyk said of the increase for all parking violation bonds from $10 to $30 on April 1.
After the article came out in the paper, the police issued about 200 tickets, Perszyk said. I still gave them the $10 fine at the time, but the fine went up because that was when (the police) started writing state code.
Upping the ante for parking the wrong way, more than 18 inches from the curb, within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, on sidewalks and boulevards, in front of driveways, across crosswalks, in intersections and alleys, and in handicapped zones was a joint decision between Perszyk and the Havre Police Department.
The reason this happened was that people were parking basically on the boulevards, and they didnt understand what a boulevard was, City Judge Joyce Perszyk said. I believe part of my job is explaining these laws, and if I have trouble explaining it, I cant expect (the public) to understand it.
Perszyk said state code is more explicit about some parking offenses and carries a higher fine for those offenses.
Havre city ordinance says that motorists are not to park on sidewalks and must park with their passenger sides closest to the curb. Motorists tend to park on boulevards in areas that dont have curbs or sidewalks in the belief that they are not violating city code. Under state law, motorists are forbidden from parking on the area between the edge of the roadway and the private property line.
Perszyk said that that area which would otherwise include a curb and sidewalk belongs to the city. To block foot traffic or to break down a curb or sidewalk with the weight of a vehicle cannot be allowed.
If its not yours, you dont get to park on it, Perszyk said
Wrong-way parking and crosswalk, intersection and safety-zone violations also are better described by state code, she said.
The penalty (for city parking violation) really reads a fine of not less than $100 or more than $300, Perszyk said. The handicap parking zone is a state violation; the penalty is $100 plus your surcharges.
Perszyk said she decided, along with Havre Police, to increase all parking violations to $30 bond because she thought it was unfair to charge more for state than city code violations.
I still have the right to go to either way, $10 or $300, she said about setting fines in court.
The police also have the authority to remove a vehicle that appears to be abandoned or poses a hazard.
Havre Police recently issued a caution to area residents against illegal parking as the cold-weather months approach.
In addition to the other parking ordinances, city code prohibits people from parking boats, trailers, or RVs on city streets for winter storage.
The ordinances only allow boats, trailer, and RVs to be parked on city streets for the purpose of loading and unloading items, the police news release said. The purpose of the ordinances is to keep the streets from becoming congested by vehicles that are not in use.
Another concern is the accumulation of snow extending into the roadway from unmoved vehicles during the winter months.
The news release promised that officers would resume issuing parking tickets to all illegally parked vehicles as time allows.