Chance to pay parking tickets without late fees draws line around the block in Baltimore

Parking tickets can be paid at their original price and late fees will be forgiven during the parking amnesty program. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun video)

Darnell Goodman got a handful of $30 parking tickets in Baltimore’s Edmondson Village a few years ago, and never got around to paying them.

With late fees, his less than $200 debt to the city ballooned to more than $1,400. The 46-year-old Upper Marlboro man paid roughly half of it through a payment plan. Then he heard that the city would be offering an amnesty period Thursday and Friday, forgiving all late fees on outstanding parking tickets.


That brought Goodman to downtown Baltimore, tickets in hand. He joined a line of other people that wrapped around the Abel Wolman Municipal Building Thursday afternoon, hoping to rid themselves of some of the city’s estimated half-million unpaid parking citations.

“It really helped me out a lot,” said Goodman, who paid his $188 balance and celebrated by treating himself to a hot dog with chili and onions from the stand outside.


Mayor Catherine E. Pugh announced the amnesty program, which waives all late fees for delinquent motorists who pay the base fine, last month. It’s the first time the city has offered the program since 2003.

About one-third of delinquent motorists paid their tickets during that previous amnesty period, and the city estimates that this year’s could bring in between $3 million and $4 million.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 20,000 tickets had been paid online, bringing in more than $913,000. In addition, the Department of Finance estimated that 2,500 people walked in to city offices to pay tickets. City officials said final numbers will be available next week.

Lisa Brown, 36, of Towson had been pulled over on Tuesday, and her car was towed and impounded due to an expired registration.

Mayor Catherine Pugh on Wednesday announced an amnesty program forgiving late fees on outstanding parking fines in Baltimore.

She came downtown Thursday to pay the outstanding parking tickets that had kept her from renewing her registration. With late fees, one of the tickets had grown to more than $500; the other was above $300.

“Together, I only had to pay $85,” Brown said.

Lawrence Payne said he didn’t know about the outstanding 2009 parking ticket on his old Buick until he got a letter about the amnesty program.

The 58-year-old tractor-trailer driver took off work to come get the $1,100 ticket reduced to the original $27.

“I didn’t know I had it,” he said. “I feel real good.”

Darlene Ellerbe, 52, of Yale Heights, had been worried her whole 2018 tax refund would go toward a 2013 parking ticket on her Honda Accord. The fine had originally been $52 and swelled to 10 times that amount, she said.

“When I got the envelope in the mail, and it was [from] Baltimore City, the first thing I thought was, ‘What do I owe them?’ ” said Ellerbe, a patient care technician at the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus.

When she saw how much, she said, “I thought, ‘I’m not seeing my taxes this year. Forget it.’ ”


The amnesty program turned Ellerbe, a former supporter of mayoral candidate Sheila Dixon, into a Pugh fan.

“She’s doing a pretty good job, considering what she’s up against,” Ellerbe said. “She has a lot of work ahead of her.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.

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