Making a Federal Case out of a Parking Ticket


Making a Federal Case out of a Parking Ticket

There’s a lawyer in Chicago (of course it’s a lawyer) who is suing the city because he was given a ticket at 4 PM on a day when the sign said he could park until 4 PM. He had paid properly to park until 4. The ticket was written at 4, not 4:01 but 4 PM. So this lawsuit is over one minute. But I really don’t think that’s what it is all about. First, this guy sues over frivolous matters but that’s OK, that’s what lawyers are all about. The real reason is this, and I quote from the article:

As Weinberg tells the story, the ticket writer was still on the block, so Weinberg caught up with her and pointed out that he couldn’t have violated the law because his pay box receipt said he could park until 4 yet the ticket had been written at 4.The ticket writer was insistent that the parking ban took effect at 4.Weiberg pointed to the receipt and argued that he couldn’t be ticketed until after that time—for instance, 4:01.The ticket writer reiterated that the city’s policy is to ticket at 4.Weinberg insisted that the policy conflicts with what his receipt said, meaning the city’s policies are inconsistent.

She laughed at him and called him a “whiner.”

Can it be possible that the last word put him over the edge? Read the entire story here.

I understand what happens – this is a main artery in the city. After 4 PM there is no parking so there can be an extra lane for traffic. Ticket and Tow – I’m sure that if Mr. Lawyer had been caught in traffic behind a parked car he would have argued the other side, but I digress.

The problem is with the training of the enforcement folks. They need to first of all, write tickets at the proper time. They should be trained that if the enforcement time goes into effect at say 4 PM, that the first ticket is written at 4:05 so someone who knows they have to move their car at 4 but whose watch is slow, won’t be ticketed for trying to do the right thing. It’s obvious that our hero, above, was there to move his car at 4 (he did have the confrontation with the officer at 4:02 or whatever). Plus, they need to understand that calling someone who is complaining a “whiner” is like a red flag to a bull. Sheesh, a nice smile and a “sorry” might have been better. Then a comment that he was very welcome to send the citation in for review, Maybe a nice card about how to do it. It would have been a lot better if the city had been in the right.

Of course they denied his claim. I would say that this should be a judgment call. For that to work, a city bureaucrat has to have good judgment.

One more nail in the parking industry’s PR coffin. One article like this, with a verbal lawyer and a willing press, over an innocuous, ridiculous parking ticket over one minute and all the good will that parking tries to set up with excellent PR programs goes down the drain. Where should our profession’s dollars be best spent — in teaching our parking enforcement staff good manners and reasonable procedures or……. What do you think?







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John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. As petty as I think it is, I’m actually inclined to side with the lawyer… and even just from a more social level: it’d be good PR to grant an unofficial leeway. That is, officially the signs say 4pm but in actuality tickets are written at 4:05. I’ve been in a couple jurisdictions which take this approach, and it’s not much of a costly (re)education issue… you just tell your officers to start writing 5 minutes later. No fancy training required.

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