Know your City – Easy Access to Austin’s Most Common Citizen Concerns
By Chey Court Hollowell, JD
Courtesy of Chris Dorbandt & Associates, Attorneys at Law
Whether you are new to Austin or a long time Austin resident, knowing the local laws and city ordinances — and how to report or access information through city resources – may be deemed valuable, or even necessary, at some point during your residency in our fair city. The City of Austin and Travis County both maintain services to help citizens with questions and concerns regarding everything from obtaining police reports to starting a neighborhood watch program. Below are a few of the most common citizen concerns, and details about how to access local information regarding these issues.
Been issued a traffic or parking ticket? Whether issued in person by an Austin Police Department (APD) officer, or received through the mail, courtesy of a red-light camera capturing your offense, traffic tickets and warrants can be taken care of in person at one of the three City of Austin Municipal Courts (Downtown at 700 E. 7th Street; at the north substation on Lamplight Village; or at the south location on Manchaca Road), or paid over the phone at 512-974-4640, or via the internet (www.austintexas.gov/court/).
Been involved in a traffic crash? If the crash is minor in nature and does not involve bodily injury, contact police using the non-emergency 3-1-1 number to report the accident. Also, be aware that state law requires that motorists move their vehicles from roads and freeways to avoid the possibility of a traffic hazard that could negatively affect oncoming traffic. Be sure to exchange driver information, including insurance coverage, before parting ways. If an officer arrives at the scene, he/she will prepare and distribute a ‘Blue Form’, or driver’s crash report. This ‘Blue Form’ is considered the police report and both drivers should maintain a copy for insurance purposes.
To obtain a copy of a crash report from APD, they may be purchased for $6 from the police Headquarters located at 715 E. 8th Street, or by sending your request and fee along with a self-addressed and stamped envelope to APD’s Report Sales at the same address.
Had your car towed? The most common reasons are not having the proper parking permit displayed; improperly parking in designated areas; parking and leaving a vehicle on a private lot without doing business with the establishment; or abandoning a vehicle on a roadway. For private property tows, look for red and white signs posted at the entrance and exit of the parking lots with information as to the name and phone number of the towing company monitoring the lot. For abandoned vehicles or other impounds by the City of Austin, contact Southside Wrecker at 512-441-3111 or 512-441-7094. Be prepared to pay roughly $200 or more for towing and impound fees. For specific city ordinances relating to towing review the City of Austin Code. Also, be aware that citizens have the right to request a hearing with the Justice of the Peace to contest a non-consent tow.
Need to inquire about a possible arrest of a friend or loved one? The Travis County jail is operated by the county sheriff’s department and all information about arrests can be obtained by calling jail information at 512-854-9889. To check on the status of a felony warrant call 512-974-5299.
Want to learn more about the inner workings of the Austin Police Department? APD offers a twelve week program called the Citizen’s Police Academy. The course consists of lectures, demonstrations, tours and rides with on-duty police officers, all designed to give interested citizens knowledge of the inner workings of APD. To register for the course contact Sr. Officer Dennis Farris at 512-974-5941, or register online at www.ci.austin.tx.us/police/.