ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The city of Albuquerque's system for ticketing and fining drivers who park illegally in handicap spots is so unworkable the blue-and-white reserved signs mean almost nothing.
So, what happens to people caught breaking the handicapped parking laws? In Albuquerque, it turns out, not much.
By state law parking in a designated handicap spot without a placard display on the vehicle is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.
But there Albuquerque is a twilight zone in New Mexico where the blue-and-white signs reserving handicap parking spaces don't really mean anything.
"What we have is a program that's unworkable and deficient in many, many ways," city Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry told KRQE News 13.
Five years ago Albuquerque passed an ordinance that took parking in a disabled space out of the court system and made it a civil violation with a $350 fine paid directly to the city.
The city, however, never put a system in place to track the tickets. No one at the city is responsible for handling the more than 3,000 citations issued every year.
With no system in place, there is no way to know when someone fails to pay a ticket. And with no court involved, there is also no way to make someone pay.
"The process itself and who is responsible for the handling of these citations, the adjudication, final payment and settlement of them, is not very well defined in the ordinance whatsoever," Perry said.
Since 2010 the city has failed to collect more than $800,000 in fines.
And it gets worse.
Some people pay the fine to the city treasurer, but if they don't bring the citation, there is no way to link their payment to the actual ticket.
"It needs to be fixed," Perry said. "We're in the process of doing that.
"We have a new hearing officer who has been tasked with doing that as a priority."
In the meantime, some people continue to break the rules, and it's costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
The city plans to put in a new a system to track violators and make them pay although that could take six months or more.
Santa Fe police are working on a new way to put a stop to busy burglars. Instead of throwing them in jail they want to put them rehab.
A winter storm warning has been issued for Albuquerque and surrounding areas through 11 p.m. Thursday.
Tempers flared Wednesday night at the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education meeting as the firestorm over teacher evaluations and student testing continues.
An Albuquerque man says an emergency vet clinic turned away his dying dog because he didn't have enough cash in his pocket to pay to save him. The dog later died.
Closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday in the final sentencing phase of John McCluskey's federal murder trial. The same jury that convicted him of killing an Oklahoma couple, must now decide whether McCluskey should face the death penalty.
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* Snow Storm
* Road Conditions
* N.E. Heights Winter Storm
*Weather in the West
* Sheriff Houston
* Toys for Tots
* Winter Weather Coverage
* Board of Education Meeting
* DWI Laws
* Anthony Stanford Sexual Harassment