How do I appeal this parking ticket?
July 5, 2011 8:50 PM   Subscribe

How should I try to fight this ticket?

I drove up to a beach area where parking is limited. Since the beach is located about 1/2 mile from downtown, the city placed resident parking only signs close to the beach forcing any outsiders to either park downtown or pay $25 to park in the beach lot on top of a $5 entry fee. Most patrons of this beach opt to park downtown and walk to the beach. I decided to follow along since I figured I wouldn't be paying for parking by using the 2 hour limit spots. My plan was to park for 2 hours and then walk back to the lot to move my car.

I first parked at 12:35 and returned at 2:30 to move my car. I switched spaces to just another space in the same lot. I did however move from one side of the lot to another. There were no space numbers or markers and I figured as long as my car just moved somewhere else in the lot I would be fine.

Of course I return at 4:30 to find my car was ticketed for being parked too long in the same lot. I was ticketed at 3:15. I guess moving within the lot does not count...

I might just have to fess up and pay the ticket, but I do think that this is ridiculous that even though I moved my car I am still getting ticketed and for being in the same lot. There have been many times that I have been parked along a street in Boston and simply moved my car up 2 spaces and still didn't receive a ticket. I understand those are two different towns/cities, but I would have thought the same principle would apply. I guess I shouldn't assume.

If I was to just give a shot at appealing this ticket (which I have found sometimes they accept and say essentially are saying this reason won't be valid the next time you appeal a ticket/don't do it again) what would be the best reasoning behind this? My original thought it to just be honest and state that I moved my car after 2 hours, but did not know that it applied to the entire lot and see what they say, but this town is rather wealthy and strict and it might not pass. Any ideas or suggestions? What has worked for you in the past?
posted by melizabeth to Law & Government (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How much is the ticket?
posted by mauvest at 9:02 PM on July 5, 2011

I would be honest, because if you weren't -- well then you would by lying to the court. Your honest explanation and limited knowledge of the town's ticketing scheme would probably sound more plausible than anything else you came up with. Judges, and even low level administrators like the truth.
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 9:05 PM on July 5, 2011

Actually, according to Boston's parking regulations, you should have been getting tickets for moving your car up 2 spaces, too:
For the purposes of this Section a vehicle shall be deemed to have been parked continuously if the vehicle has not been moved to a different block upon or before the expiration of the parking time limit.
posted by hades at 9:07 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

You could have driven away on a quick errand and re-parked in the lot in a different spot. This argument may be limited in the absence of proof that you went somewhere (e.g. a time-stamped receipt), and may be invalid entirely if the bylaws say your vehicle cannot be found in the same lot in the space of X hours under any circumstances.

Please feel free to ignore anyone telling you to "own up and pay." This comes up in every thread about parking or speeding tickets, despite being pure noise that doesn't answer the question and ignoring the oft-mentioned fact that parking and traffic tickets are revenue enhancement for the local government and are frequently issued unfairly and illegally. You have a right to fight any ticket within the boundaries of the law and should exercise that right whenever it's worth the trouble.
posted by Behemoth at 9:18 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]

i don't know who you would have to appear before to appeal the case but I imagine that they would have some discretion in determining whether the full amount of the fine should be imposed. If you are honest about your mistaken belief that it was OK just to move the car within the lot, that could be enough to have the fine lowered with a warning. If you make up a story that you can't corroborate, or worse, that video (perhaps?) of the lot contradicts you risk losing out on the benevolence of the judge. But again, I have no idea what kind of appeals process this is -- it could be done just in writing or no one could be monitoring the lot that closely. Sometimes, in those lots, they mark your tires with chalk to see if you actually moved.

Anyway, I think your original, honest story serves your purpose best.
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 9:37 PM on July 5, 2011

1. Find out EXACTLY what the exact law that you were cited under says (this will take research). What are the specific and precise elements of the law that are needed to be proven in order for you to be guilty. Can the State prove each and every one of them beyond a reasonable doubt? (i.e. Can they prove that you did not exit the lot for several hours and then come back later on). No? Too bad for them

2. Admit nothing. Nothing. Never admit that you were guilty in the slightest conceivable degree. It is the job of the State to do that. You will be shown no mercy or given any breaks for your "honesty"

3. Demand a court trial if allowed and refuse to treat the ticket as an infraction if that option is granted to you. DO you think the State wants to spend thousands of dollars on your parking ticket?

4. Delay.Delay. Delay. (research...research..research). Use every available option to make the State show up as many time as you are legally allowed . It's a frigging parking ticket. The prosecutor will dismiss before he spends a dozen hours of his valuable time with your ticket

5. Make the ticketing officer appear to testify. If they do not appear that is usually an automatic win for you.

6. Know your rights . Know the laws. Read about appropriate court strategies to fight citations such as yours. Implement a defined plan based upon those strategies.

All this will take time. Most likely more of your time than the ticket is worth. It's your choice.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:42 PM on July 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

Seconding a fight, if it's worth it to you.

Return to the area, study the signs, take pictures.

If any are listed, look up the vehicle codes. Find out if the warnings sufficiently described the circumstances surrounding the ticket.

I fight them on principle. Don't resign yourself to conflating law with justice. This isn't a moral question, it's a financial one for both parties. Tickets are nothing more than flat taxes which place an undue hardship on the poor, and are no deterrent to the wealthy; making their alleged purpose specious at best.

If you fight it, expect to waste at least a couple mornings on visits to court, and you'll probably have to pay the fine in advance (refunded later, if it's dismissed).

A small note on the case of the ticketing officer not appearing: it's at the judge's discretion whether to dismiss or reschedule. If they don't do it automatically, you must take the opportunity to move for a dismissal (which is, again, at their discretion).

As a slight aside, as a member of the National Motorists Association, if I fight a moving violation and lose, they'll supposedly pay up to $300 of the fine. I have yet to test that, but they offer good publications, advice by e-mail or phone, and can refer you to an attorney. If you're wondering, no, I don't work for them or benefit from referring people.
posted by evil holiday magic at 10:15 PM on July 5, 2011

I read through some of the posts but thought I’d offer this as a suggestion if you ARE in the wrong. (PS - really crafty way to try to get around the 2-hour policy).

If you find that you made the oops and shouldn’t have done what you did and should be getting the ticket. Why not just go to court, be honest in your thinking, and ask for leniency?

I got a speeding ticket in May. I was honest with the police officer, I was speeding. The police officer wrote me a ticket, full price for the exact speed that I was going. I’ll admit I wish he had dropped it a little, but there is nothing to say that they have to or even should, so what I got is what I deserve. Overall I am a good driver; I don’t have any speeding tickets on my record, no accidents and nothing else bad on my record.

I read an article in car and driver that suggested that you try your chance and taking tickets to court, that you could find a compassionate judge that would be willing to hear your side, to look at your record, and or would dismiss if the ticketing officer did not appear. And for the most part, other than your own time you waste, it isn’t going to cost you any more money on the ticket if the judge doesn’t “side” with you and you have to pay the full amount anyway.

So, I took my chances and showed up for my court date. The ticketing officer didn’t appear but I just explained to the judge that yes I was speeding and that I had a good driving record a overall was a good “citizen” and asked for leniency. In the end the judge reduced the ticket amount but I was still required to pay the court costs. I saved about $40.

I was told after that I would have been better off to call the prosecuting attorney for that county and plead it down and would have possibly avoided additional costs.

So my suggestion, if you feel you have a good driving record, or want to give it the chance. Try asking for a little leniency. You could even make the argument that the rules weren’t clearly stated on the lot time limits and that you were trying to be fair by moving your car to a new place but didn’t intend to be deceptive about it. Ignorance is an excuse and maybe there is a judge or county attorney willing to give you a break. Good luck!
posted by lutzla23 at 10:25 PM on July 5, 2011

So, I took my chances and showed up for my court date. The ticketing officer didn’t appear but I just explained to the judge that yes I was speeding and that I had a good driving record a overall was a good “citizen” and asked for leniency. In the end the judge reduced the ticket amount but I was still required to pay the court costs. I saved about $40.

I fought my 10mph over the limit speeding ticket in a California court back in the mid 90's. I had a complete strategy prepared. I plead not guilty. When the officer did not appear at the trial (no witness or case for the prosecution) I demanded a dismissal based upon the time I had already spent in court and received it.

I saved over $300 plus the hundreds of dollars in increased insurance rates that I would have had to pay each and every year for the next few years.

I'm just saying ....
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:15 PM on July 5, 2011

I fought a speeding ticket in court, but only because I was peeved about having been given a ticket for 80 in a 60 zone when I had in fact been doing 60 in a 60 zone. The cop who booked me did turn up, and to my surprise* told a complete and utter pack of lies about the events leading up to my being ticketed.

In the end, the magistrate said that "both stories held up well to cross-examination", that he could therefore not accept that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, and dismissed the charge. The whole thing was a pain the arse, and wasted more of my time than the ticket was worth, but left me feeling validated and righteous.

However: whenever I get busted fair and square, even through ignorance of some applicable regulation, I do just pay up and move on. I get no satisfaction from beating The Man unless The Man is breaking his own rules.

Consider that it's going to take you at least a full working day to prepare and present a defence, and compare your hourly rate to the size of the ticket, before deciding what to do about this.

*I was younger and rather more idealistic at the time.
posted by flabdablet at 12:04 AM on July 6, 2011

ignoring the oft-mentioned fact that parking and traffic tickets are revenue enhancement for the local government and are frequently issued unfairly and illegally.

Parking rules also exist to make sure everyone gets a fair crack at a space during the day instead of the first x people to show up. And New England beaches have high parking fees because someone has to maintain the beaches, pay the lifeguards, etc. Out-of-staters aren't paying taxes to help. You can argue this 6 ways to Sunday, but it's still a case of "I did wrong but I'm special. How to get out of the rules for everyone else?"
posted by yerfatma at 5:30 AM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]

Damn, yerfatma beat me to it. It's called "churn" or "turnover." The city wants six different people to use that space between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. (or whatever the times are).

Sure, argue it in court. There's a decent chance you'll get a judge who is willing to let you off with a warning. But the intent of the law is to keep people from doing what you did.
posted by Etrigan at 8:27 AM on July 6, 2011

Yeah, I've gotten tickets for just moving a couple spots up for parking "too long" in Boston. So you've just been lucky. According to the parking meter person I asked, you are supposed to move to another street name or it doesn't count, because that's how they input where your car has been. So yeah, within the same lot probably works the same way.
posted by katers890 at 9:34 AM on July 6, 2011

I should also note that I tried to appeal my ticket for moving my car but not moving it far enough (apparently) in writing, they denied my appeal, granted that only costs you a stamp to do, so you could try it.
posted by katers890 at 9:36 AM on July 6, 2011

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