Fresh Start Debt Relief Program
The Fresh Start Debt Relief Program provides relief from certain vehicle ticket debt to people who obtain Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges. Anyone who has received a Chapter 7 discharge, or who is currently a debtor in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, may be eligible for relief under the Fresh Start program.
Fresh Start payment plans provide eligible bankruptcy debtors with the opportunity to pay just a portion of the amounts due for parking, standing, compliance, and camera tickets incurred in the 3-year period immediately preceding the debtor’s bankruptcy petition date and up to the date of enrollment in the plan. Under a Fresh Start payment plan, he or she will pay only the base fine amount for those tickets over a period of time. Upon completion of the plan, all penalties on those tickets (including late payment penalties,) and all fines and penalties on tickets preceding the three year look-back period, will be waived.
In order to have his or her debts waived, besides completing a Fresh Start payment plan, the debtor must also receive a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. The debtor can enroll in the program before receiving a discharge as long as he or she has a pending Chapter 7 case, but must complete the case and receive a discharge to obtain the Fresh Start debt waiver.
Note that if a debtor has no fines within the 3-year look-back period, all of their parking, standing, compliance, and camera tickets, as well as related penalties and costs, can be waived without making any payments to the City once he or she receives a Chapter 7 discharge.
A payment plan’s term may be up to 5 years, depending upon the total amount to be paid under the plan as shown in the following chart.
|Total Plan Debt||Monthly Payment||Plan Term|
|$900 or less||$25||Up to 36 Months|
|$901 to $3,600||1/36 of total plan debt||36 Months|
|$3,601 to $6,000||$100||Up to 60 Months|
|$6,001 or more||1/60 of total plan debt||60 Months|
Immobilized and Impounded Vehicles.
Eligible bankruptcy debtors that have their vehicle booted or impounded due to unsatisfied fines may enroll. Usually, the debtor will be able to obtain release of an impounded vehicle by making a down payment of 25 percent of the total amount that must be paid in the Fresh Start plan. The debtor will not be put on the boot list or incur license suspension based on tickets covered by the Fresh Start plan, as long as he or she remains current on the plan payments.
Eligible bankruptcy debtors that have a vehicle impounded due to violations other than unsatisfied fines, such as driving on a suspended license, are eligible to enroll. However, Fresh Start plans do not apply to the administrative penalties imposed due to the violation that caused the direct impoundment. For example, if a vehicle was impounded because the driver was operating a vehicle with a suspended license, and the owner of the vehicle was assessed a $1,000 administrative penalty for the violation, in order to obtain release of the vehicle through a Fresh Start plan, the owner of the vehicle must pay the $1,000 administrative penalty in addition to the 25 percent Fresh Start down payment to obtain release of the vehicle when enrolling in a Fresh Start plan.
In the event an individual incurs additional tickets while enrolled in a Fresh Start payment plan, those tickets may not be rolled into that plan. Individuals may enroll in a separate non-Fresh Start payment plan for those tickets or pay them as they are incurred. If the individual does not pay or make arrangements to pay the additional ticket(s), the City may boot or impound the vehicle due to those tickets.
Current Chapter 13 Debtors.
Debtors that are currently in a Chapter 13 case are not eligible to enroll in a “fresh start” payment plan based on that case. A current Chapter 13 debtor may be able to take advantage of the Fresh Start program if he or she converts the Chapter 13 case to Chapter 7. The 3-year look-back period begins at the original Chapter 13 filing date.
There may be other reasons why converting a case to Chapter 7 may or may not be appropriate or beneficial to a given debtor. Debtors considering conversion should consult with their bankruptcy attorneys regarding whether it makes sense in their particular cases.
Step 1: Obtaining “Fresh Start” Payment Plan Terms.
E-mail Inquiry: Individuals interested in enrolling in a Fresh Start plan should e-mail the City’s representative, Arnold Scott Harris, P.C., at:
The e-mail must provide the individual’s (a) name, (b) address, (c) driver’s license number, and (d) all known vehicle license plate numbers (past and present). If the individual’s vehicle has been booted or impounded, the e-mail must state so and the reason for the impoundment (outstanding tickets or direct impoundment, e.g., for a reason other than unpaid tickets). The City will then respond with proposed Fresh Start plan terms.
Note: prospective applicants who have not yet filed a Chapter 7 case can get proposed terms before filing, in case the proposed terms influence whether they decide to file for bankruptcy.
Walk-Ins: E-mail is the preferred method of inquiry. However, where e-mail is not practical the individual may present his or her information in person to the Arnold Scott Harris representative at the City’s payment center at 400 West Superior Street. The prospective applicant must bring all the information listed above to be included in an e-mail inquiry. The individual must also provide contact information in order for the City to follow up with proposed payment plan terms. The City will not be able to enroll walk-ins immediately.
Step 2: Completing the Enrollment Process.
Contract Execution: Once an individual has obtained proposed Fresh Start payment plan terms, if he or she wishes to proceed with the Fresh Start payment plan, he or she will need to bring a copy of a filed bankruptcy petition (or entered discharge, if from a prior case), schedules, and statement of financial affairs, as well as his or her driver’s license, to 400 West Superior Street. The individual will be provided with a Fresh Start payment plan contract with the final terms. The Fresh Start payment plan will become effective once the contract is signed and the eligible debtor has made the first payment (and any down payment for release of a vehicle), which is due upon execution of the contract. The individual may pay the initial payment and any down payment with cash, cashier’s check, or money order (from the USPS only). All subsequent monthly payments must be made by mail as set forth in the Fresh Start payment agreement.
Upon completion of payments under the Fresh Start payment plan and receipt of a Chapter 7 discharge, all debt for parking, standing, compliance, and camera tickets incurred prior to entry into the Fresh Start plan will have been either paid or waived, and the debtor can enjoy a true “Fresh Start” free from those debts to the City.
Specific Terms Control.
This description of the Fresh Start program is intended as a general overview. It is not intended to exhaustively address every possible scenario that a debtor may face. In any particular case, there may be circumstances that will affect eligibility or operation of the program. Persons interested in potentially participating should obtain proposed Fresh Start payment plan terms as described above. It is possible that for reasons specific to a given individual’s case, participation may not be available, or terms may differ from the description above.