A young neighbor is in trouble with the City of Chicago over parking tickets. How deep is the hole and how should he proceed to climb out?
Last summer, 18yo Bo graduated from high school and got his first job, which required driving his own vehicle to job sites around the city. In his first few days of working, he made a poor decision and parked illegally rather than be late reporting to the job. He received two parking tickets that week. Not having enough cash to pay them, he asked his retired father for help. Dad agreed to take care of the tickets with the stipulation that Bo repay him from his first paycheck. Bo did. He says he never got another ticket.
A few months later, Bo and Dad moved to this state -- still in the Midwest, but not a border state to Illinois. Both changed their respective drivers licenses, vehicle registrations and plates to the new state without problems. I've since learned that Dad did not fill out a USPS forwarding order for himself and Bo, likely because he hoped to ditch a couple of troublesome collection agents. (Dad is not a bad guy, but is not a sterling example of financial responsibility.)
Last night, Bo got a call from a friend in Chicago. Long story short, friend had seen a city notice addressed to Bo at his old address. According to friend, the City of Chicago now wants more than $800 for outstanding parking tickets, the fine is continuing to grow every month, collection efforts are underway, and a warrant has been issued. Bo is panicked. $800 represents more than a month's wages at his new, part-time minimum wage job. It also represents a substantial percentage of his father's monthly pension. The city notice, friend reports, was marked "not at this address" and returned to sender.
Assume Dad will be of little help. Neither Bo nor Dad has any paperwork related to these tickets -- no copies, no receipts for payment. Unfortunately, knowing Dad, the possibility exists that he did not pay the tickets at all. As a former city worker, he may have simply dropped them off with "The Alderman," fully expecting them to be expunged. Such favors were rather common in Chicago during his working years. But they were also "not talked about," so he's unlikely to admit it if that's what he did.
I know the first step should be to determine whether the outstanding parking tickets are valid and are indeed the tickets Bo remembers. I've located this site
so I'll be able to help him with that. Assuming they are valid, the site indicates that even a payment plan will require a minimum payment of $500 immediately, which is definitely out of Bo's reach. Does anyone have any experience that suggests possible leniency in this policy if good faith effort to repay is shown?
Any other advice? Should Bo file an individual change of address so he doesn't miss other important correspondence? Because he is so young and has always lived with his father, Bo's credit record is likely to be virtually non-existent -- should he be concerned about that relative to this problem? Is a Chicago warrant for parking tickets likely to be able to reach out-of-state to cause him difficulty renewing his plates or drivers license ... or worse, expose him to risk of arrest or other serious consequences?
Anecdata welcome. This is a good kid and the unfairness of this situation is almost heartbreaking. But because Dad will probably suggest that Bo simply ignore the problem and expect it to go away, I'd like to offer more realistic and responsible counsel.