Woman refuses to pay nearly 30-year-old traffic ticket for not wearing a seat belt

HAMILTON COUNTY, Iowa (WHO-DT/CNN) – A Minnesota woman is refusing to pay a traffic ticket that’s nearly 30 years old.

She said the officer who gave it to her should have been more concerned with her fate as a runaway, and shouldn’t have given her the ticket in the first place.

And even though she’s now getting collection notices, she insists she’s not going to pay.

Amy Rush is now in her 40s, but back in 1990 she was a 15-year-old runaway hitching a ride with an older man through Hamilton County, Iowa.

The man got pulled over for speeding, and Rush got a ticket for not wearing a seat belt.

Rush said her seat belt shouldn’t have been the officer’s first concern.

“You know, I was a runaway,” Rush said. “The officer that pulled us over not only did not see an ID or license from me, but, you know, never inquired more about me at all. And for all they knew, I was with a deranged psychopath or something.”

Rush said about 15 years ago the state sent a letter to her parents’ house, saying she owed a $35 ticket.

She said she wasn’t going to pay.

Now living just outside St. Paul, Minnesota, Rush said she was surprised to get a letter a few days ago, saying a debt collection agency was trying to get the money.

"I've almost considered just driving down there, the two and a half hours, to talk to a judge to tell him how absolutely ridiculous this is and what a waste of taxpayer money, again, this has been for 15 years,” Rush said. “I mean, I can't imagine the postage that they've paid on following me around trying to get this $35."

West Des Moines lawyer Mark Pennington said if she doesn’t pay, she can expect the letters to keep coming.

There’s no statute of limitations on these kinds of fines.

"Well, if you have an unpaid fine, it's not going to go away,” Pennington said. “It's going to be there until you pay it. And if it's there, they'll eventually try and get it. Sometimes they don't, but sometimes they do."

For Iowa residents, a debt collection agency can withhold state taxes or the state can refuse to renew their vehicle registration.

Because Rush is a Minnesota resident, the only real action the state can take is to issue an arrest warrant.

Pennington said if it were him, he would just pay the ticket and be done with it, but Rush said that’s not going to happen.

"I told them I'm going to let them keep sending me mail and wasting more money because I'm not paying it," she said.

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