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Hybrid Thoughts

4/26/2007

Parking in DC

I don't have an excuse for not writing every day. I'm just debating every day what to write about, because so much is happening that my mind is in a mess. So I end up sitting at the end of the day just vegging out and trying to process the thoughts in my head and put everything into order.

I'll start with a rant, because this really ticked me off. I got a parking ticket in the mail a month ago when I had the flu. The parking ticket ominously told me I was over 30 days late on paying a parking ticket on 2/1/07. Needless to say I was absolutely stunned that I was 30 days late on anything but my period. But since I was down with the flu I could only muster enough energy to cry and feel like shooting myself. My husband tried to dissuade me from killing myself by saying it's easier to pay the $50 ($25 + the late fee). But that's not the reason I cried. I cried because I never GOT the first ticket AND the parking meter was NOT expired. And it's my freaking word against a stupid ass traffic cop who decided to make some extra money for the DC government. It's totally wrong that I go through life trying to be the most law abiding person there is. I do everything by the book. I refuse to do anything illegal even when my peers mock me for it. I refuse to copy software programs and I always buy original CD's and software licenses. And then comes along someone who represents the law and pins ME - of all people, this cop finds ME???? What the FUCK! Let me point to you who you should hassle every day. Let me show you where to concentrate your law enforcement efforts.

After I was convinced that killing myself will not make this cop change his method, nor will it make my dog happy - I decided to do the next honorable thing. I went to court to contest it. It's not about the money. It's about the principal. I did nothing wrong and I didn't see a reason I should pay for doing nothing wrong!

Yes, I took a day off work, took the METRO for the first time from the station near my house, figured out how to get to the DC courthouse (and boy was that confusing with the multiple entrances and clueless cops), waited in line, only to fight a $50 ticket (ironically, if I had waited one more day, I would have found in the mail the ticket with another late fee totalling a $55 ticket!).

I sat across the judge with three other criminals like me. Two of them - I swear to dog, I have no idea how they even had the mental capacity to figure out where the DC court was LOCATED! These men sat across from the judge as she asked them simple questions about their parking tickets (ten tickets between the two of them). I honestly wish I could repeat the entire case here, but I could not for the life of me even understand what they were uttering in their version of English. All I know is that after two minutes of "was this your car? is this car registered under your new address? why didn't you pay the ticket?" they responded with "I didn't know I had to register my car when moving" and that about closed their case against them. Ask me if I would have known to register my car if I moved from Washington DC to Washington DC - heck no! Com'n, where am I supposed to find this out?

But I digress. By the time my turn is up, the judge is not in her bestest moods. I took the oath, I swore to secrecy, I promised my mommy's life if I lied. Did the judge even CARE??? HECK NO!

So here's what happened. I attended a farewell luncheon in DC for a coworker. This luncheon was planned and scheduled via 5 emails, a calendar invite and phone calls. In order to attend it I had to drive my car from a location 20 minutes away, with another coworker. I parked across from the restaurant next to a parking meter. Bear in mind, this isn't the first time in my 20 years of driving that I parked next to a meter. I've grown up in a city, I lived in a city, I'm a city girl. I know how to use a meter. My coworker and I had very limited time for this luncheon. Less than 2 hours. So we put enough money in the meter for 2 hours. Plenty to cover the time at the restaurant. Keep in mind that between my coworker and I there are four college degrees - so we're not idiots. We had lunch, which was less than 2 hours long. We left. We got to my car, we had a few minutes left on the parking meter - my coworker sighed a sigh of relief because he's the type of person who would have felt REALLY bad if I had gotten a ticket while giving him a favour of a ride. Not only that, but he would have offered to pay the ticket if there was one, because he feels he owes me his life (I helped him with his career). Had I gotten a ticket for $25 I would have been pissed and paid it off right away, or at the latest - end of the month, when I pay the bills.

I came in front of the judge with a letter from my coworker explaining this exact story and confirming my side. First thing the judge says: "This letter should have been notarized. I cannot accept this as evidence." WTF! When I called the number on the ticket and asked how to contest it, no one mentioned that evidence must be freaking notarized! Then the judge didn't believe me that I was at the restaurant less than two hours, in spite of me explaining to her that it takes me 20 minutes to drive from work to DC and back, and I was gone only two and a half hours from work overall. Then she didn't believe me that when I got the letter in the mail I actually remembered what I did on 2/1/07 at 2pm, regardless of me trying to explain to her that it was on my Outlook calendar because I don't frequent DC at lunchtime that often and I NEVER take 2 hour lunch breaks without it being on my calendar because my boss needs to know where I am. Then she didn't believe me that I actually LOOKED at the meter when I got back to the car and saw that it wasn't expired (ok, what the hell??? Doesn't EVERYONE check the meter to make sure there is time left, just so they can say 'phew, I made it!'? Am I such a freak???). Then she didn't believe me I had a dozen witnesses who saw me get into the car and if I DID have a ticket on my car they would have made fun of me and I would have been embarrassed as hell, because everyone KNOWS how much of a law abiding person I am (yeah, I'm so anal that I track my time at work to the 15 minute accuracy, and if I surf the Internet 15 minutes I add on 15 minutes to the end of the day before leaving work). THEN...she didn't believe me I read the right parking meter! Whoa, lady, are you seriously comparing me to the two cerebrally challenged people who sat here before me?!

This ended up with the judge ruling $25 ticket remains. She gave me the benefit of the doubt about not getting the first ticket on the windshield of my car. And she decided to accept the letter, even though it wasn't notarized because I guess she realised it was ridiculous that no where on the DMV website or on the phone did anyone TELL me it was supposed to be notarized. MORONS!

So to the idiot DC cop who decided he should pick on a Hybrid car with a Maryland license plate - I hope a Maryland cop tickets you for speeding and arrests you for being an asshole.

To the potentially retarded kid who decided to remove the ticket from my windshield just to see how much fun it would be for me to have thoughts of killing myself - I hope one day you'll have kids who end up in jail.

To the asshole judge who wouldn't believe a law abiding citizen who TOOK THE OATH, I hope you'll continue to question every person who tells you the truth, to a point of becoming paranoid, schizophrenic and hospitalized in an insanity asylum.

Because I AM a law abiding citizen, and it blows when the judicial system sucks so much that instead of keeping me safe from the criminals, they pursue the innocent.


Yeah, this rant is a better option over killing myself. But damnit I so wanted to die just so the headlines would say, "DC cop causes death of an innocent law abiding citizen. DC cops apparently have solved all crimes in the Nation's Capitol and have nothing better to do." Or something like it.

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15 Comments:

  • You're making me anxious about contesting my ticket (for having no permit, although one was clearly in my window). What is it with this city and parking tickets?

    I'm glad they had the decency to not charge you for the missing one. And what's up with the notarization requirement? I'm with you. I wouldn't have thought they would need that?

    By Blogger LJ, at 9:40 AM, April 27, 2007  

  • I try to avoid court whenever I can. It is set up to make sure that you fail and I simply don't trust cops. They are guys that are not qualified to do anything else....and then they give them a gun. Something is seriously wrong with that.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9:46 AM, April 27, 2007  

  • lj, here's what they don't tell you on their website or on the phone - when you contest a ticket and you have witnesses, their letters should be notarized. If you can bring photos to prove your point, that's best (I did that one time when contesting a ticket and won based on the photos). If you have paperwork proving you paid for the permit before you got the ticket, bring it with you. So basically I'm saying bring everything you can to prove you're organized and anal enough to have put the permit in your window immediately when you paid. Then it's really a matter of what judge you get and what day they've had.

    Good luck with it, and I'd love to hear back how it went!!!

    By Blogger Mybrid, at 9:48 AM, April 27, 2007  

  • Mike, I've been to court four times in my life. The first time I was a witness to a hit and run. The second time for jaywalking. The third time to contest a parking ticket in DC (I won because I had photos proving there was no sign that said "no parking" and the judge just happened to live nearby and KNEW I was right).

    I do this because I take pride in being a law abiding person and I believe that paying a ticket without contesting it is the same as admitting I was wrong. And I WASN'T! And I wanted on my record when I die that I died being right.

    By Blogger Mybrid, at 9:53 AM, April 27, 2007  

  • I dont think some kid took your ticket from your windshield. I've had this same thing happen to me a number of times. The meter maids probably just didn't slap it down, Hoping to stick it to some "rich kid" making 25k a year, who they think we'll just pay the fine and late fee. the parking ticket system is such a joke in this city, are you listening adrian?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:26 PM, April 27, 2007  

  • Anon, it's very upsetting to hear that this is happening to others as well, and I'm really sorry you had to go through it several times. If the city is so desperate for money, there are a ton of other violators they can catch all over the city rather than sticking it to those who DO obey the law.

    By Blogger Mybrid, at 4:34 PM, April 27, 2007  

  • Sorry about the outcome, but at least you fought the good fight. And you got one righteous rant out of it. Far better than killing yourself.

    By Blogger Phoebe Fay, at 7:06 PM, April 27, 2007  

  • Anyone still following this thread? I'm trying to figure out why I got TWO parking tickets. Once is marked no parking any time (ok, half my car was beyond the parking area so I'll concede this one) but the other one has NO reason indicated. Also, the "east/north/west/south side" boxes are marked DIFFERENTLY on each ticket--that is, one says north, the other south--but it is a north-south street!

    Finally--anyone have any success contesting DC tickets via mail instead of in person?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:57 PM, June 10, 2007  

  • Anon, I don't think anyone is following this thread anymore. Though I'm getting at least a couple of hits a day on this topic. I don't know if anyone has had success contesting via mail. I'd rather do it in person because then the judge can make a subjective opinion of me and realise I'm speaking the truth. I think your case is definitely worth contesting, because I've heard of several cases where if the ticket doesn't contain right information it is dismissed.

    Go for it! And come back to report how it went.

    By Blogger Mybrid, at 7:46 PM, June 10, 2007  

  • I contested about a nonposted street cleaning area w/ pictures and got off. They still don't have signs posted there so I warned a coworker away from there today...but I got an unwarranted ticket from a utility crew --whose signs were four car lengths away from where the emergency signs were. Wednesday parking sucks in Columbia Heights. So I'll try the pictures again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:01 PM, September 26, 2007  

  • Yup, I'm about to do the same thing. Except I have nine (9) tickets that I've never seen. It's impressive, really. How am I expected to pay a fine about which I've never been informed? What amazes me is that there isn't something unconstitutional about this DC parking ticket racket. Since when did the burden of proof lie on the accused?

    By Blogger Disco Dan, at 1:06 PM, October 31, 2007  

  • DC is now planning on eliminating the ability of driver's to fight a parking ticket in DC court.

    It may change to only allow challenges via the mail or e-mail.

    Check out: http://www.thedctraveler.com/more-parking-tickets-in-dc/

    By Anonymous Jon - The DC Traveler, at 3:15 PM, November 09, 2007  

  • I was ticketed once for no parking permit (it was there, a valid visitors permit while I waited for paperwork for the new registration). Never got the actual ticket. Months later I got a letter, forwarded from my previous out-of-state address, notifying me of the ticket plus two late fees. By then I was fully registered in DC, but they continued to send stuff to my old address, so I'd get it a couple of weeks later. I did contest through the mail. Never heard anything. I assume the forwarding order ran out. Haven't had any problems re-registering the car in the six years since, so I guess I "won" or something.

    I did just go move my car, based on all these stories. I couldn't figure out the signs when I parked near work this morning. I'm pretty sure the spot was legit, but if I'm not sure, how can I trust the parking enforcement folks to get it right?

    By Blogger rallycap, at 10:32 AM, March 25, 2008  

  • Hope this all makes you feel better. I am a police officer, and I have a car issued by my agency that has Maryland plates, and I live in a residential area in Glover park. My work car is a police car. It has emergency lights, a siren, antennae and it screams police. Not to mention the official police car placard in the window. Yes, I recieved a ticket in the window last night for parking over the 2 hour limit, and have no real recourse. The police don't run the ticket shop or it wouldn't be a problem. Public works employees do. If you can't be smart enough to write a ticket, then don't.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:23 PM, April 02, 2008  

  • I just contested a DC parking ticket today. I had solid evidence that I was at work almost 4 miles away at the time of the ticket. However, the examiner claimed that didn't prove that I didn't leave my car at the spot a few miles away, then get a ride to work, leaving my car there for over 3 hours in a bus zone before it supposedly got ticketed. It takes me 15 minutes to drive to work and the ticket was from a place 4 blocks from my home (I park in a garage under my building). Why would I drive 4 blocks, park in a bus zone, then get a ride to work from there? It makes no sense!

    Well, at least I got a continuance and maybe at the next hearing, either the officer won't bother showing up, or I can find a better way of saying things to make them believe me. They clearly just entered the license plate number incorrectly...

    Ugh.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:18 PM, June 27, 2008  

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