A Bellevue woman learned the hard way that putting off paying a traffic ticket is never a good idea. Her fine more than tripled and the court even threatened to take the money out of her paycheck.
In April last year, Janelle Anderson got a $124 traffic camera ticket for going 29 mph in a 20 mph school zone. She waited nine months to pay for it.
“It was a crazy month and I wasn’t getting much sleep as a new mom working full time and it completely slipped my mind,” said Anderson.
She didn’t think about it until a certified letter came in the mail a few days ago. It was from a collection agency. Her $124 ticket was now $431.11 because of filing, affidavit and attorney fees.
The letter also threatened to contact her work and garnish her wages.
“I think it’s really extreme and uncalled for,” she said.
Anderson claims she was never sent any notices or follow-up letters requesting payment.
“The court isn’t doing their due diligence to make sure an attempt has been made to collect a debt,” said Anderson.
According to Washington law, once a ticket is 90 days past due and there’s been no response, the court sends it to a collection agency.
A formal response is either a request for a hearing or payment. A response is due within 15 days from when the ticket is issued, or else there’s an added $25 penalty.
“I’m surprised there’s a wage garnishment because you’ve made no attempt to contact me to collect a debt and they basically said they don’t have to with a ticket,” said Anderson.
As an added insult, Anderson says, she was assessed a $10 fee to pay over the phone. While she takes full responsibility for the ticket, Anderson says the courts need to communicate more before taking drastic measures.
King County District Court processes more than 20,000 garnishment cases a year.