DC parking ticket adjudicator lacks sense of humor, soul

I finally contested a parking ticket and lost. That puts my record at 5-1, which is still pretty good. And technically this ticket was the wife’s, so I probably could still call myself undefeated. In any event, DC’s parking enforcement extortion officers got us for parking within five feet of an alley. This rule is especially absurd because DC stubbornly refuses to paint curbs red to indicate that parking is not allowed. This is, of course, because they want you to get a ticket. It’s certainly not because the city cares where you park. Look at the boot system. That is a system designed for maximum revenue and driver inconvenience, not for keeping our streets clear of illegally parked cars. If they really cared where you parked, they’d tow you for violations, not lock your car in place. Anyway, they didn’t buy my argument. And it was a weak argument, I admit. But it was civil and in complete sentences, so I thought maybe they’d give me the benefit of the doubt.

To Whom It May Concern: I am writing to contest a parking ticket, citation #[unimportant], that I received on Monday, July 21st, 2008, for parking less than five feet from an alley. In my haste to move the car because the ticket indicated that towing was requested, I did not notice that the ticket was for parking on the 1300 block of Harvard St NW. The car was on the 1400 block, just across the street from my house, where I’ve parked numerous times in the past. I realize that you can’t just take me at my word. I have lived on Harvard St for about a year and a half. In that time, I have parked on blocks besides the 1400 block fewer than a dozen times, and never on a Monday. Every Monday at 6:30PM, you can see all the residents of the block who don’t have off-street parking move their cars from the north side of the street to the south side. The south side is usually closed to parking during rush hour, but after 6:30 it’s open, and on Tuesdays, the north side is scheduled for street cleaning. So the minute the south side opens up to parking, those of us who live here move our cars. At 7:31PM, when the ticket was issued, the south side of the street had been open to parking for only an hour. That side of the street never fills up until much later in the evening, so there would never be a reason for me to park on the 1300 block of Harvard rather than my block (1400 block), as the ticket stated. I have to admit that I’m a little paranoid about my car being ticketed, and this causes me to pay a lot of attention to parking on our street and to ticketed cars. Every day, there is a car parked in the spot where I received the ticket. Some of these cars are within five feet of the alley, and some are not. But not once have I seen a car parked there with a ticket that wasn’t clearly violating some other parking rule. For example, during the day a residential parking permit is required, and frequently I’ve seen cars with VA or MD tags with tickets. I know that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but if this particular violation was enforced with any sort of regularity, I would have become aware of it. But it is hardly reasonable to expect me to assume that behavior I see go unpunished every day is anything but legal. Further, the ticket incorrectly cites me for parking on a block where my car was not parked. I live, work, and pay taxes in the District, and I endeavor at all times to park legally. For these reasons and those above, I would greatly appreciate it if you would forgive this parking ticket. I am also curious – the ticket itself states that I have 60 days to contest, which I am timely doing now. However, I subsequently received a letter indicating the ticket doubled because I did not answer in 30 days. If it is decided that I do in fact owe money for this ticket, I would appreciate that the cost of the ticket revert back to $20 since I have answered within the 60 day window. Thank you very much for your time. Sincerely, [A frustrated DC resident]

They also only give you five days from the postmark on your rejection letter to pay the ticket. I’m inclined to write a check just so I can write something unpleasant in the memo field, but I probably shouldn’t. They did, however, only charge $20, so I guess that’s some sort of partial victory.

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