In NM, Unpaid Tickets Could Get Your Utilities Shut Off

Las Cruces really wants to collect red-light-camera fines
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2012 11:54 AM CDT
A red light camera setup is shown Wednesday Sept. 29, 2010 in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

(Newser) – Thinking about skipping out on your red-light-camera ticket? You might want to reconsider, at least if you're a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico, where delinquent violators could have their utilities shut off. Officials were apparently desperate to come up with a way to collect unpaid fines, which have amounted to $2 million in just over three years. The city is owed $600,000 of that; the rest is divvied up between the state and the camera company, ABC News reports.

"We can’t go through the courts; it’s not that type of citation," an official explains. "We don’t have legal enforcement authority." What they do have, however, is the authority to cut off utility service to anyone who is in debt to the city, per its municipal code. First, a letter is sent out; if payment still is not received, water, sewage, and gas may be shut off (violators needn't worry about their electricity; the city does not provide that). Says the official, "What we are seeing is that people who have received these letters are taking care of it."

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