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Pa. Man Tries to Pay Ticket with Coins

When you get a traffic ticket, it’s highly unlikely you’ll drive away from the encounter in a good mood. Maybe you formulate a way to fight the ticket — after all, it’s your word against the officer’s, right? Or, perhaps you decide to go ahead and pay it. One man in Pennsylvania chose the latter, but with a twist.

In mid-December, the man, Alfredo Santiago, was ticketed for a minor infraction and was ordered to pay a fine of $20. Rather than dispute the ticket, he went down to the Lancaster city treasurer’s office to pay the fine. However, rather than hand over a few bills, he instead pulled out a bag of loose change. The clerk, in turn, refused to take the change, saying she didn’t want to sit there and count up all the coinage.

Santiago asked her to present some kind of policy stating he could not pay with loose change. She told him she would take the coins if they were rolled, and went to get a police officer to back her up. But, she still did not produce any kind of policy. Since the exchange, a sign has been posted forbidding payment with coins, but such a sign was not posted when Santiago tried to pay his fine.

Eventually, he left without paying the ticket and called the mayor’s office. He eventually got in touch with Patrick Hopkins, the director of administrative services. Hopkins said that, while no policy was in place, “it’s a common sense thing.” Further, though coinage is legal tender under federal law, it is not the recipient’s responsibility to count it all up.

Santiago said he could have paid with a card, but he chose to pay with coins out of frustration — and stuck with it as a matter of principle. He has 15 days to pay the fine before it is increased to $30.

If you have been issued a traffic citation in New York, you don’t have to automatically pay it. Call the attorneys at Feifer & Greenberg today to learn more about your legal options in a free consultation.