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Tubers & Tickets: People pay the price for illegal parking

By Emily Adamson, KECI Reporter, eadamson@keci.com
Published On: Jul 29 2013 06:08:09 PM MDT
Updated On: Jul 29 2013 06:20:00 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

It’s Monday in Missoula County Justice Court; the tickets from the weekend are starting to filter in.

Justice Court manager Amy Blixt counts a pile of nine tickets. “The majority of these are Maclays.”

She's talking about Maclay Bridge -- the tickets are for illegal parking in that area near the Bitterroot River. Others in the stack are for violations in East Missoula near the Clark Fork, likely people floating the river.

Inputting all of the tickets has become a normal part of the summer routine for the clerks. But this year there's more and the extra work is starting to pile up.

We checked the numbers. From June 1, 2013, through Monday, officers have handed out more than 165 parking citations. But for the same time period last year just 44. Officials have handed out almost four times as many.

Some say it has something to do with the heat -- more hot days with temps in the 90s than last year. But there's still no excuse. That’s because all of the 'no parking' zones are labeled with signs. So Missoula County officials say it's pretty straight-forward.

The tickets aren't cheap. Justice Court Judge John Odlin sees the cases almost every day. Monday he handed out $85 fines but he could charge $135.

Odlin and Judge Karen Orzech both keep a map with pictures of the signs to show anyone who tries to argue the spot wasn't marked.

Tubers like Missoula resident Daniel Barry say law enforcement should take it easy during this time of year.

“I don't think they charge you that much downtown even if you've had multiple violations, so I don't that's thought of very well,” said Barry. “My hope is since we aren't in the city that they would be a little lenient on it.”

But officers are still writing tickets and it's shaping to be a long summer for the clerks in Missoula County Justice Court.