We've all been on the receiving end of a parking ticket we felt was unjust wishing there was some way to, "stick it to the man," while avoiding a night in jail. One New Jersey man recently decided he was going to "fight back" by paying his $56 fine completely in pennies, only to be turned down after he lugged the 112 rolls of pennies into the courthouse. To top it all off, because of non-payment, he had to pay an additional $90 to get out on bail because a warrant had been issued for his arrest!
While the New Jersey Court hasn't commented on why it wouldn't take the coins, there is a precedent for not accepting large amounts of coins as payment. While some may argue that the government must take accept them as a form of payment, at least one district court has a policy which lets clerks turn down any amount of coins which would be a burden to accept. Something I'm sure the Bloomfield Municipal Court will be writing up in the next few days.
Frank Gilberti is only the latest person to make the news for how he paid a traffic fine. It seems that 2008 was the year for paying parking fines with pennies here in the U.S. and abroad. In October a Santa Cruz Man tried to pay a fine with 30,000 pennies which weighed in at close to 200 pounds! Across the pond in England, a 63-year-old lady successfully paid an £80 fine with a wheelbarrow of pennies which from the looks of it weren't even rolled.
Still, clerks everywhere would much rather be given a bag of pennies for payment than be presented with an envelope of cash from a disgruntled Texan. Earlier this year a 22-year-old from Austin Texas, upset with his parking ticket, placed dog feces inside the envelope which ended up sending one employee to the hospital for two days.
It seems that pennies have become the de-facto protest tool of poor parkers everywhere, except Austin, which is pretty sad since even if you pay in pennies you're still paying rather than fixing what you perceive to be a flawed system. To top it off, while all coins are legal tender, there is no law requiring an individual, business or organization to accept them. This ruling seems to carry over to local governments as well, so the next time you get a parking ticket, save yourself a trip to the chiropractor and pay the fine online!
Previously: Store policy stops Michaels from taking quarters as payment
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