An astounding quarter-billion dollars may be owed to the Philadelphia Traffic Court, and the institution, widely loathed by drivers, is rolling out some changes in hopes of collecting a chunk of that cash, reports the city’s Inquirer. For certain, about 160,000 motorists are in default and owe $107 million – money ripe for the taking if the court can find the drivers or persuade them to comply. The court began recently to automatically schedule court dates for ticketed drivers – who could previously ignore mailed notices and put a case in limbo – and find them guilty in their absence if they fail to respond.
In the next few months, the court will begin to send information on motorists who have defaulted on payment plans to a credit-reporting bureau. Soon, the court will have at least one van prowling the city’s neighborhoods with a $75,000 computer system that scans the license plates of parked cars. Software will automatically determine whether a vehicle is operated by a scofflaw, and a boot crew will immobilize it. And the court is developing a program that could list on the Internet the names of the scofflaws and the amounts they owe. Court officials are eager to tap the gold mine of uncollected millions.