Town of Normal spruces up parking laws and fines

The town of Normal has implemented a new way of issuing parking tickets.

A new parking enforcement vehicle, equipped with six cameras and a laptop, is expected to improve parking enforcement in the town.

According to Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner, the vehicle has two parts to it.

One part is the electronic citation system which allows for the creation and issue of paper citations in an electronic format.

The second part is license plate recognition. The cameras take photographs of cars as the parking enforcement vehicle drives around, with time stamps. As the parking vehicle drives back, the officer will compare the cars’ positions with the time allotted for parking in that space.

Bleichner said the enforcement vehicle will take an image of a parked car and one of the tires and the position of the valve stem, and compare when it comes back. If the valve stem is in the same position and it has been there for more time than allowed, the car will be issued a violation.

“With all the pictures of the cars, there is going to be less ability to dispute parking violations,” Bleichner said. “It is a much more updated system.”

In the past it was more labor intensive on the parking enforcement officers. The officers used to hand chalk tires to see if they were in violation.

The electronic chalking is a “much more efficient way of handling parking enforcement,” Bleichner said.

The new system is estimated to save about $90,000 per year.

Instead of two officers and two cars, with the new system, there is only one car and one officer, which will save money, Bleichner said.

“One parking enforcement officer can cover a much larger area than before,” he added.

The Uptown area is most often patrolled because of how many vehicles are there throughout the day and the types of short term parking in the area.

Most violations occur there because of the sheer volume of cars, Bleichner said.

With each ticket costing about $20 each, Normal has made about $120,000 to $190,000 in parking violations in each of the last several years.

Since the new system just started in the last couple of weeks, Bleichner does not yet know if and how these figures will change.

Everything is electronic under the new system; there are no more handwritten copies of the parking violations, just the print outs generated by the parking enforcement vehicle. Individuals can even login and pay their tickets online.

Another change in parking tickets distribution is coming underway starting in July. Now, people will be able handle their parking tickets at Uptown Station, instead of going to court.

People can either pay their fine at City Hall or argue their case in a new process called “administrative adjudication.”

“The new system replaces a court filing with an administrative hearing in front of an administrative law judge,” deputy corporation counsel Wayne Karplus said.

If the judge decides the ticket is valid, the person can appeal to the court, but there is no new hearing in court, he added.

“The town benefits from a streamlined process, avoiding court filings and court appearances,” Karplus said.

In addition, people who do not live in Normal can handle their tickets over the phone. Students, in particular, do not have to travel to the Law and Justice Center to pay or dispute their tickets.

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