ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The COVID-19 pandemic is changing how state police and local agencies enforce parking and it could mean some forgiveness for certain violations.
Albuquerque’s Department of Municipal Development said its parking division has seen an increase in calls during the pandemic. It’s also seen an increase in expired tag citations.
“We have seen an increase in expired tags and an increase in the issuing of citations relating to vehicles with expired tags,” Johnny Chandler, DMD spokersperson, said. “More people are home all day. Normally you’re at work, you’re not seeing what’s happening on your street all that often. So, we’re seeing more calls for service within the city of Albuquerque in neighborhoods and that’s what we attribute to that type of increase.”
Int the span of three days in early August, KRQE counted at least 25 citations from DMD for expired tags. But, enforcement for expired tags is slowing back down. In mid-August, DMD decided to temporarily stop giving out citations for expired tags.
“We were made aware by some parking customers who received citations that getting the MVD tag from the state was taking longer than maybe it used to. Once we started receiving those inquires from people receiving those citations, we then decided to go ahead and suspend issuing expired tag citations,” Chandler said.
It’s a move that follows the lead of the state. In March, the governor signed an order directing state police to temporarily stop giving citations for expired tags since the MVD was closed earlier in the pandemic. It encouraged local enforcement agencies to follow suit but did not require them to.
“It was always voluntary. And our parking enforcement division decided to go ahead and issue these citations and once we were aware it might not be the fault of the vehicle owner itself, that’s when we decided to go ahead and ease up just a little bit,” Chandler said.
Since it decided to temporarily stop these citations in mid-August, it is giving some leniency for violators who recieved citations earlier in the month.
“If you received an expired tag citation from our parking enforcement division pretty much anytime in the first half of August, we want you to give us a call through 311 or go to parking at cabq.gov. Reach out to us, we’ll work with you on a case-by-case basis and see what we can do about getting that taken care of,” Chandler said.
Although MVD is now open, it is still catching up on appointments from when it was closed earlier in the pandemic. It said some appointments are still having to be scheduled weeks out. For expired tags, MVD said in certain cases it can be taken care of online.
State Police provided this statement in regards to temporarily stopping expired tag enforcement:
“New Mexico State Police understands that citizens have been adversely affected by COVID 19 in many ways. State Police officers continue to follow the order directed by the governor and to use their discretion wisely; to give special consideration to limitations placed on the public as a result of the health crisis.”
There is no word on when State Police or DMD will resume citing violators for expired tags.
DMD said the pandemic has also changed where it enforces parking. Because fewer people are parking in the usual hotspots of Nob Hill, Downtown, and near UNM, enforcment officers are able to expand enforcement into more, nearby residential neighborhoods.