A woman was told to pay a Chicago parking ticket that dates back to 1997, but as the I-Team found there is a good reason she never paid it in the first place.
A couple of good reasons, actually. First, she didn't receive the ticket until August 2017. Even better, the ticket was issued 20 years ago for a motorcycle she never laid eyes on. So how do you fight a ticket for a vehicle that's not yours? You contact the I-Team.
"I've never even rode on a motorcycle," Kathleen Dagis said.
When Dagis got a collection notice in the mail that she was 20 years late paying a Chicago parking ticket for a motorcycle illegally parked on the South Side, she was taken aback.
"It was like going back in time. I thought, 'Where was I working?'" she said.
Dagis worked in Chicago, but said she's never been to the neighborhood shown on the ticket, nor has she ever owned a motorcycle. So she called the collection agency, which told her she'd have to prove it.
"To prove something that is not your own is very difficult," Dagis said.
She called the Secretary of State's office to run the VIN number, but by law the state must purge their records after 10 years.
Jason Knowles: "Why did she have such a hard time solving this, because it goes back so far?"
Dave Drucker, Illinois Secretary of State spokesman: "I think the fact that it went back so far, Jason, it went back 20 years. State law requires records be kept for 10 years."
The Secretary of State goes beyond the law and digitizes records back to 2003, but that didn't help Dagis, so she contacted the I-Team. They emailed the Secretary of State's office, who contacted the City and the ticket was dismissed within days.
"Something told me to reach out to the I-Team, in two days it was done," Dagis said.
Dagis said it wasn't about the $73.
"It's the principal of the thing," she said.
She also said she came forward to help others potentially affected.
"The Secretary of State representative said, 'Oh we are getting a lot of calls on this issue.' So that would mean I could help other people to not give up and not just go ahead and pay it," she said.
So why is the Chicago Department of Finance looking for payment for such old parking tickets?
"Twenty years, that's a long time. There are more serious offenses that have statutes of limitations, and it does seem funny to me, checking on a ticket from that period of time," Drucker said.
The city did not respond to the I-Team's requests for comment.
"Nobody wants anything on their record that's not theirs," Dagis said.
The Secretary of State's office said if you are having this same problem you should go to cyberdriveillinois.com or call 1-800-252-8980.
If you have a ticket for a vehicle you've never owed, reach out to the I-Team by going to Jason Knowles' Facebook page or calling the I-Team hotline at 312-750-7TIP.