License plate readers target parking ticket holders

License plate readers target parking ticket holders

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane has a new high-tech tool to find people with unpaid parking tickets. Parking enforcement officers will now be outfitted with the same technology used by the Spokane Police Department to find stolen vehicles.

A new parking enforcement vehicle will be driving around Spokane with an automatic license plate reader. Cameras on the car scan license plates and check the numbers against the data base of unpaid tickets. Cars with multiple tickets will get the boot.

The Spokane Police Department is already using license plate reader technology to find stolen cars. The cameras feed passing plates to a data base of missing vehicles faster than you can snap your fingers.

"It's really just an extra set of eyes for us, it's capturing images of license plates for us that there's just no way we could run all those license plates," said officer Glenn Bartlett.

The license plate reader also keep tabs on which cars are parked in free, one hour zones and can tattle on drivers who plug meters in two hour spots. But most of all, it's looking for long-time parking scofflaws who didn't take advantage of a 60 days amnesty program to clear up their tickets.

"We certainly don't want to be heavy-handed, and that's our last resort," said Brian Coddington with the City of Spokane. "But when we reach a point when there's three dozen, four dozen, five dozen outstanding parking tickets, at some point you've got to do something different."

Up until now, people with with large numbers of unpaid parking tickets could remain anonymous. Currently, there are $4 million in unpaid parking tickets in Spokane.