I got six NYC parking tickets in one week鈥攁nd beat them all

New York City is giving out more parking tickets than ever before. According to a new report this week, the city brought in $565 million in parking ticket revenue in the last fiscal year, a 3.5% spike over the year before. It’s a record. And in February, I got six parking tickets in six days, which also must be some kind of record. I almost contributed $990 to the city’s ticket-trove. But I beat the tickets. And you can too, if you do some sleuthing. Read on.

If you live in New York and have a car, you鈥檙e already doing it wrong. You know all too well the headache of moving the car for street cleaning; you have in your head a list of the most under-the-radar parking spots that stay open the longest; you鈥檝e seen the crazy ritual that happens every morning in so many neighborhoods, where people move their car over and sit inside it for an hour and a half, then move it right back the moment the street-sweeper passes. But you also know the rules in your neighborhood intimately, and you鈥檙e likely extra-careful about where you park, because you鈥檝e been burned before.I鈥檓 extra careful. I know how close is too close to the hydrant, and I have the alternate-side parking calendar web site bookmarked in my phone. But last month, I parked my car in my Brooklyn neighborhood, in what sure looked like a safe space鈥攏o signage, no yellow paint, no hydrant鈥攁nd left it there for six days. It was a Monday spot, meaning the street-cleaning happens on Monday morning, and I parked it there on Monday night and didn鈥檛 come back until Sunday night. I got six parking tickets. Six. They were waiting for me on my dashboard like a bright orange fan of shame. The offense: blocking a pedestrian ramp. Code: (f)(7). Fine: $165. That鈥檚 steep! (It is the second-most expensive offense listed on a ticket, after parking in a handicapped spot, which runs you $180.) I鈥檝e certainly gotten my fair share of normal parking tickets (No parking, code d) and the fee is $60. Six tickets, at $165 each, comes to $990, a nauseating total for a twentysomething living in a studio slightly bigger than Harry Potter鈥檚 broom closet. I had to contest.To call the space a 鈥渞amp鈥 is a stretch鈥攊t was a slight dip in the curb of the sidewalk, the length of one car, and it wasn鈥檛 outside of any corresponding ramp attached to the nearest building. There wasn鈥檛 any sign about a handicapped ramp, or no parking, or anything at all. There wasn鈥檛 any of the yellow paint on the curb that often denotes a ban, in lieu of a sign. It looked more like a drain for flooding. And what is a pedestrian ramp? Apparently it is something different from a handicapped ramp. And forget the ramp itself鈥攊t seemed shocking that officers can keep giving the same car a ticket, every day, for being in the same space, when clearly the driver is unaware. Of course, there鈥檚 no system to notify a driver that they鈥檝e received a ticket (perhaps there should be?) and to keep piling them on鈥 Can they really do that? (Yes, clearly.) I had never contested a ticket before鈥攊t never seemed worth the trouble. I had often heard that there was a good chance the ticket-issuing officer wouldn鈥檛 even show up to the hearing and that, if he or she didn鈥檛, you鈥檇 get out of the ticket. But it鈥檚 a gamble, and it means taking time off from work to go to court. At $990, I had to try. I was sitting on my couch, preparing to write a long, verbose statement of defense. My girlfriend saved me the trouble. (She’s the true hero of this story.) She searched online for 鈥渉ow to beat a new york parking ticket blocking pedestrian ramp,鈥 and the first result was a godsend: a blog post called, appropriately, New York Parking Ticket. It explained that there had been an 鈥渋nconsistency鈥 in New York City traffic rules that led to an important change in December 2008. Under the new rule, 鈥淯nless a pedestrian ramp is situated at a marked or unmarked crosswalk, as defined by the Traffic Rules, a summons should not be issued for blocking the ramp. Specifically, a pedestrian ramp located on the long street of a 鈥楾鈥 intersection may be blocked by parked vehicles, unless the crosswalk is marked, or there is a traffic sign or signal controlling all opposing traffic.鈥滻n other words: if the 鈥渞amp鈥 isn鈥檛 marked, and isn鈥檛 at a crosswalk, you can park in front of it. So it appeared I had been ticketed unfairly. Six times.I logged on to the New York parking ticket web site. It turned out no hearing would be required. You enter your argument, a judge reviews, and you get a decision via email. I thought about writing some long, verbose essay, but instead, lazily, for my argument, I simply copied and pasted that same paragraph from the blog post. I had to submit a separate form for all six tickets, and I pasted the same message for each. I exhaled. I did not expect success.Three days later (impressive speed!) I woke up to six emails from a sender named HBW Decision. The emails were as formal and joyless as you鈥檇 expect: 鈥淵ou recently submitted a request to contest a parking ticket by an online hearing. An Administrative Law Judge has reviewed your case. The details of the decision are included in the attached Decision and Order Letter.鈥漁pening up the attachment each time was like opening the college admissions envelope. The first one I opened said, 鈥淒ECISION SUMMARY: NOT GUILTY. AMOUNT DUE: $0.00.鈥 聽Ditto for the next five. I won!But here鈥檚 the strange part: they provide you with a judgment response, written by an actual human judge, as to why the ticket is being suspended. Every single ticket had a different response, from a different judge鈥攁nd only two of the responses said that the ticket was invalid for the reason I had written. The reasons I got varied. One of the responses appeared to give me props: 鈥淧ersuasive general denial claim and timely submission warrant dismissal. Dismissed,鈥 while another did the opposite: 鈥淭he make of the vehicle is missing from the summons. Dismissal is not on the merits of the case presented.鈥滿y tickets had been unjust, but six different officers slapped them onto my Jeep nonetheless. Were they unaware of the 2008 rule change? (Was it because of my Red Sox bumper sticker?) If I hadn鈥檛 contested, the city would be $990 richer鈥攗njustly. The city finance department did not have any comment when I asked why multiple different officers gave me the same invalid ticket.There is no feeling quite like beating the system. Justice was served this time, and justice may get served next time, for you, if you do a minimal amount of homework. Don’t just pay up without poking around. There are all kinds of strange exceptions to parking laws in New York, and likely in other cities too. It鈥檚 worth a shot.(Note: There is a discrepancy between the video and story鈥攖he video says the tickets were $160 each. They were in fact $165 each, as the story states.)–Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering sports business and technology.Read more:Uber faces a legal battle in Florida from a company called UberAdidas sees sneaker success, but golf woesWhy Andre Agassi and former Nike execs launched a sports video site聽parking ticketsNew York City

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *