Can you beat a San Francisco parking ticket if it has no VIN number on it?
March 29, 2009 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Can you beat a San Francisco parking ticket if it has no VIN number on it?

Can you beat a "blocking sidewalk" ticket in San Francisco if they say "can not read" VIN number, even though it was readable? Or any other way... :) This is one of those lovely "pulled into boyfriend's driveway leaving plenty of room in front of car for pedestrians to walk by, ran upstairs for 3 minutes, came back to find a ticket--even though it was 8 at night in the middle of nowhere in Outer Sunset." All the other identifying info on the ticket is correct--including the gasp-inducing fine of $100.

Any advice would be appreciated.
posted by roxie110 to Law & Government (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you beat a "blocking sidewalk" ticket in San Francisco if they say "can not read" VIN number

No. Why would you? Many vehicles may have unreadable or unidentifiable VIN numbers, plus it sounds like there is other identifiable information on the ticket.

What are you going to claim in court? That the ticket lacks a VIN means you were not improperly parked and thus innocent of the allegations? It doesn't work that way, sorry.

If you're going to contest it you're going to have to convince a magistrate that your car was absolutely not blocking the public causeway, not even a tiny, tiny bit. It doesn't sound like you can do that (because you were parked slightly on the sidewalk.) Whether you, with your expert opinion and nuanced ability to gauge distances and space, left "plenty of room in front of car for pedestrians to walk by" is moot.
posted by wfrgms at 7:40 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Were you parked on the sidewalk?

If so, why do you think you should get away with it? Did you leave 'enough room' in the legal sense, or just in your personal opinion?

I'm all for people getting wrongly issued tickets nixed, but it sounds like you actually committed the offence, in which case the chances of your getting away with are rightly minimal, I suspect.
posted by Brockles at 7:40 PM on March 29, 2009

I doubt "no VIN" would be enough to get out of the ticket, assuming they have your make, model, and license correct.
posted by zippy at 7:55 PM on March 29, 2009

They have no particular reason to believe you when you say "but it was readable".
posted by smackfu at 8:02 PM on March 29, 2009

Even if they do believe you that the VIN was, in fact, readable. Are you prepared to lie when they ask, "So, do you claim that it wasn't your car? Was it your car?" Because, surely that's the very next thing that will crop up. If you are prepared to lie, do you have a way to explain how the rest of the identifying data is correct?
posted by oddman at 9:19 PM on March 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I doubt officers ever record the vin. It's really long, difficult to see, and pretty much irrelevant if you have the plate.
posted by ryanrs at 9:40 PM on March 29, 2009

That the ticket lacks a VIN means you were not improperly parked and thus innocent of the allegations? It doesn't work that way, sorry.

Guilt or innocence has nothing to do with it. The city has to follow certain procedures when issuing tickets and if they don't, the tickets are invalid.

Follow the instructions on the ticket for protesting it, see here. Explain that key information was missing from your ticket and that you feel it was improperly issued. Don't offer excuses like "I just ran up for a minute", which essentially admits guilt.
posted by electroboy at 9:50 PM on March 29, 2009

I've never in my life even seen a place for the VIN number on a ticket. No way will it make a difference if the plates are on the ticket.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:41 PM on March 29, 2009

On the page electroboy linked to, there's a PDF of a sample completed citation. You'll notice that although there's a spot for the VIN on the citation, it isn't even one of the notated numbers. In the handwritten example on that same page, there isn't a place to note the VIN at all.

Two things: That evidence would suggest that a VIN isn't necessary for a legal citation, and it's easy enough to contest a citation that you might as well give it a try (and ONLY say that you're contesting it because there's no VIN on the citation; don't go into ANY detail about how you were only upstairs for 3 minutes and you weren't really blocking the driveway, because that's a surefire way to lose). You won't be punished for contesting, so why not?

On the other hand, considering the dire fiscal situation of San Francisco, perhaps you might just own up to the fact that you're at fault, you deserve the ticket, and you should pay for it rather than wasting the time of the parking bureau by contesting it when it seems your argument is rather ridiculous.
posted by incessant at 12:25 AM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think they only fill out the VIN if there are no license plates. Either is sufficient to ID your car -- they don't need both, and (just checked) the VIN was not filled out on the half dozen tickets a very naughty person earned for my car in SF a couple of years ago.

Also, if it was 8pm, it was dark, and only infrared officers can read a VIN in the dark.
posted by gum at 1:49 PM on March 30, 2009

Response by poster: Perhaps I should have mentioned that the California Vehicle Code - Section 40202 - says that the VIN, if readable, has to be on the ticket:

40202.(a) "...The notice of parking violation shall also set forth the vehicle license number and registration expiration date if they are visible, the last four digits of the vehicle
identification number, if that number is readable through the windshield, the color of the vehicle, and, if possible, the make of the vehicle. The notice of parking violation, or copy
thereof, shall be considered a record kept in the ordinary course of business of the issuing agency and the processing agency and shall be prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein."
posted by roxie110 at 8:50 AM on March 31, 2009

Response by poster: As for all the "just pay the ticket" people, I'm a law-abiding citizen and normally will not even complain about forking it up if I violate a parking regulation (which in any case I do extremely rarely)--sometimes you have to pay your dues. I find this regulation particularly pernicious, because in this city, it is often impossible to find a parking spot, and it seems gratuitous to fine people an extraordinarily large amount of money for pulling into their own driveways if they are not blocking the sidewalk or the street or inconveniencing anyone. To me--and to hundreds of people you'll encounter on a quick web search on the subject--this seems like a moneymaking scheme.

In this case, the chances of a DPT person being nearby enough to either spot the car or respond to a complaint (which is extremely unlikely, as no one uses the garage I parked in front of, though from what i understand complaints are how most driveway tickets are issued; it doesn't say "complaint" on my ticket, either) at 8pm in an area with no residential parking limitations exept biweekly street sweeping are infinitessimal and some bizarre streak of bad luck, so of course I want to fight the ticket. Hey, if I'd known how enormous the fine was, I'd have double-parked instead, which at least would have cost half the money.
posted by roxie110 at 9:10 AM on March 31, 2009

Response by poster: I filed a protest giving "improperly issued ticket" as the reason; we'll see what happens! I included a copy of the CA vehicle code and several photos of my VIN number, which is clearly etched on the windshield... just above where the DPT person left the ticket, incidentally.
posted by roxie110 at 2:04 PM on April 29, 2009

Response by poster: Follow up... they denied my protest, but I've just sent in a mail hearing... we'll see!
posted by roxie110 at 11:24 AM on August 14, 2009

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