CALL7 Investigation May Lead To $1 Million A Year For Denver

City Leaders Raise Fines For Failing To Register Cars

The CALL7 Investigators uncovered a loophole in car registrations that some Coloradans were exploiting because it was cheaper to pay the tickets than to pay for registration. That loophole is closing in Denver.

"After the story, we pursued a solution that would encourage people to comply," said the director of Denver Public Works, Bill Vidal.

In April, the CALL7 Investigators found more than 200,000 tickets for expired tags written statewide in the last two and a half years. Nearly 15,000 vehicles received at least three tickets each.

CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia discovered that on some newer, more expensive cars, it was actually cheaper to pay a few tickets a year instead of the hundreds of dollars for registration.

Ferrugia asked one repeat offender, "You've got a temporary tag from 2007, so you haven't paid registration fees for two years?"

She nodded.

Then Ferrugia asked, "You have paid how many tickets?"

She replied, "Several."

In April, 7NEWS found that her late model Mini Cooper had received at least 11 tickets in the previous 20 months. Each ticket was $30 after all the associated fees, bringing her total cost to $330.

To register her car for those two years would have cost more than triple that amount.

Statewide, that's millions of dollars every year in lost revenue. The city of Denver is now looking to collect and get people to comply with vehicle registration laws.

City leaders have elected to raise the fine for an unregistered vehicle from $25 to $75.

"We are writing 95,000 tickets on license plate violations each year. If we get 60 percent less number of tickets that we issue for license plate violations,[the raised fines] would still bring a million dollars of revenue for the city," said Vidal.

That doesn't include the millions of anticipated revenue the city will now get from people who previously didn't register their vehicles.

"So either way, this is a revenue enhancement for the city?" asked Ferrugia.

"Certainly," said Vidal, but he stressed it isn't all about the money. Proper registration also means proper emissions checks for cleaner air.

"The point here is that we are not trying to make money off the ticket. We are trying to give you enough of an incentive to register your vehicle," said Vidal.

The raised fines only affect Denver. Statewide, counties are losing millions from unregistered vehicles and that is an issue the legislature is expected to address in the upcoming session.

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