The DMV has betrayed me

Or am I misremembering?  I could have sworn that they asked me if I wanted to register to vote in DC when I got my DC license.  Now, I know me, and I would have said, “Yes, I would like to register to vote while I get my DC license”.  I’ve known me a long time, and I feel qualified to speculate on what I might have said in that situation.

It turns out that either they didn’t ask, or they didn’t act on my request, because I’m not registered to vote in DC.  With primaries coming up, and a whole gaggle of clowns on both sides of the ballot, this is just not acceptable.  Now, I still have to figure out who to vote for – there’s no one I really like, and every time I try to eliminate the people I absolutely can’t bring myself to vote for, I’m left with a write-in for either Abraham Lincoln or Donald Duck.

In any event, downloaded and printed the PDF, filled it out, and I’ll mail it on my way to work tomorrow.  It’s actually quite easy for DC residents to determine if they’re registered to vote.  If you aren’t, you should be, and you should vote.  If you don’t vote, you can’t complain, and if you can’t complain, I’m not really sure what else you’re doing, but it’s probably un-American.

Letters are easier, anyway

Due process too much hassle for DC dept. of motor vehicles – Boing Boing

Washington DC’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will no longer allow citizens to protest parking tickets in person, reports Instead, they’ll offer mail-in and e-mail adjudication.

What kind of crazy person would go to the DMV to protest a ticket in person, anyway?  As many of you have found via Google, I have a bit of experience protesting tickets via the mail.  It actually works.  They really do look at your letter, and they really do respond.  It sometimes takes a letter to your councilmember to get it all worked out, but the statement in the article to which Boing Boing has linked:

Under the DMV’s plan, motorists will only be able to object to a ticket by email or letter where city employees can ignore or reject letters in bulk without affected motorists having any realistic recourse.

Just isn’t true.  Does DC give out too many ridiculous parking tickets?  Probably.  Is the city too financially dependent on this revenue source?  I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me.  Should it be easier to contest an erroneous ticket?  Sure, but we have to weigh the cost/benefit analysis here.  The reason you can’t contest a ticket in person anymore is probably NOT so the DMV can deny you due process (Does the DMV even owe you due process?  I’m not sure.  Maybe some lawyer can answer.).  It is probably to save the DMV some money.  If they don’t have to employ someone to sit and listen to how you know it said no parking, but you only had to run in for a minute, and it’s not your fault that your manicurist had a line and you had to wait and the kids were running around and it’s really not fair and you normally park in a regular spot and take the other car that you can usually park but this time you had the big car and gosh don’t you have kids then you understand, right?  Then maybe they could put some of that saved money to use for education or increased police patrols or any of the million other things the city could be spending its money on.

Anyway, I know I only link to BoingBoing when they piss me off, so I want to state here that I read and enjoy the site every day.  And I really don’t just read it waiting for them to say something that bugs me.  I really recommend the site.  They usually have smart, interesting things to say.  Sometimes they say ridiculous things, but don’t we all?

I win again!

That’s two more parking tickets adjudicated. I guess that means forgiven. I leave looking that up as an exercise for you, the reader. DDOT got back to me, and said that the Zone 1 parking restrictions were not supposed to be enforced until August 27th, so both of my tickets will be forgiven. So, if you live on the 1400 block of Harvard Street, NW, and you received a ticket for failure to display a Residential Parking Permit for Zone 1 before August 27th, 2007, you still have time to contest it. Contact the DMV, or contact Councilmember Graham’s office if that doesn’t work. Just don’t pay that ticket.

Lets get the Councilmember involved

I wrote to Jim Graham today.  I’m looking for a little help on my parking ticket problems.  I figure that taking up Graham’s time is more efficient than taking up the time of a clerk in the DC traffic courts – Graham’s time is billed at a much higher rate, and it will take less time to reach the $60 they’re trying to take from me.

When I hear back, I’ll let you all know.  And then I’ll contest my tickets.

Those heartless, inflexible bastards

I got another ticket today.  Right on top of the note I left explaining the situation.  I understand that the parking enforcement people are doing their job.  But if I can get a ticket for failure to register my car because they’ve noticed it parked there for a while with non-DC tags, why can’t they also notice that it’s been registered for a few months, they’ve suddenly changed the rules for parking without telling anyone, and cut me a break?

Apparently paying attention from day to day only works when you’re trying to bleed the taxpayers.  This is now six tickets in DC, including one before I moved here that was my fault (I misread a sign that was pretty clear, I’m not really sure what my problem was).  Do you know how many parking tickets I’ve gotten in the entire rest of the planet?  One.  I went to Blacksburg to pick up my brother from Virginia Tech and got a ticket on campus.  I parked illegally, figuring I wouldn’t be there long.

So, on one hand, we have twelve-plus years of driving and parking in Maryland and Virginia.  One ticket.  In less than two years of parking in DC, I have six.  It is abundantly clear who is at fault here.

I don’t park illegally.  I don’t double park, I don’t block hydrants, I don’t park in front of driveways.  But six tickets.  It’s mind-boggling.

I’m going to ask the wife to help me contest these two tickets, and I’m going to send a copy to our councilmember.  He’s all about the ineffectual but flashy solutions to problems.  Maybe he’ll give me a “get out of parking tickets free” card or something without addressing the underlying problem that this city needs to figure out a new way to combat parking and revenue issues.

Parking update

The DMV tells me that it only takes 15 signatures to get a street zoned, so maybe it actually happened.  You’d think maybe they’d notify the residents.  But, the woman I spoke with couldn’t tell me whether our street had actually been zoned, or if the signs were just wrong.  She transferred me to someone who could, but no one answered.  I have the number, though, so I’m going to call back.

Cant I just park in front of my house?

I spoke too soon. In late July, I sent this letter to contest a parking ticket. I thought I had achieved victory when they forgave the ticket.

It turns out that I just won round one. Round two has now begun.

Yesterday, I looked out the window and noticed a parking ticket on the Disaster Magnet. Since my car was parked a few spaces away, I went to check mine.

Sure enough, there was the ticket. $30 for “P003 RESIDENTIAL PARKING”. Do you know what they’ve done? Sometime over the last week or so, they replaced all the parking signs on our street. They now state that a zone 1 sticker is required. No one notified me that there were new parking restrictions. I don’t know if the city is legally obligated to tell me, but they should be. Now, the DC DOT website still lists our block as un-zoned. I don’t know whether it just hasn’t been updated, or if they put up the wrong sign. In any event, at 9AM on the button I’m calling the DMV to find out what’s going on. I left a note on my car to hopefully prevent another ticket. I politely stated that I live on the block, I became aware of the new parking restriction last night, and I’m going to the DMV today. I have no idea if it will help.

So, let’s summarize my tickets since I moved here. The first I paid. It was for violating a temporary ‘No Parking’ sign. I thought I was past the area where parking was restricted, but there’s apparently some rule that you must be a certain distance away from the posted sign that isn’t printed on the sign. Maybe I could have contested it, I don’t know. My second was the $100 ticket for failure to register that I got while I had a temporary permit from the police. That one is still being contested. I think we’re going to call soon to see the status because we haven’t heard anything. The third was $30 for not having a residential permit, which we contested and won. And now this one, the fourth. All of these tickets, mind you, are for parking within 100 feet of my front door.

I hear rumors that the DC government brings in a huge portion of its revenue from parking tickets. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m starting to feel a little persecuted. We have tons of people living in Maryland and Virginia who drive past Metro into the city for work. Shift the tax burden to them! Shift the burden to the giant beaurocracy of the federal government! Shift it anywhere but your residents, who already pay extremely high tax rates.

Anyway, I will keep you updated. I don’t think I’ve adequately expressed how infuriating this is. It’s going to make me even madder if my suspicions prove true – that this is a sign mistake, not a change in parking rules. I was told by the DMV that it requires approval from a ridiculous percentage of the residents of a street to zone an un-zoned street, and no one knocked on my door.

If I ran for mayor with a platform of, “Let the Marylanders and Virginians pay the parking tickets”, do you think I’d win? I’d vote for me.