Monthly Archives: May 2008

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek – 5/31/08

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Dear Mr. Geek,

I enjoy your blog,about fighting traffic tickets, you help a lot of people. I hope you can help me.

I got two tickets in one week, fought one and won!!!($60 residential had photos), and paid one. $50 expired meter, (didn’t think I could win) These are all on my present car which I have had ticket free since I bought it 6 years ago.

Not 15 min into savoring my victory, I checked my mail and received an orange vehicle siezure notice for 7 tickets for a total of $440. These tickets were from a different car I sold in 96-97,(perhaps the two tickets from my present car triggered this?).

This is from a Mazda RX-7 I sold to a mechanic for $100. The plates were rusted on and he told me he would destroy them. Obviously he did not.

Also, I have never received a notice on this problem before now. 11 years later!

The first notice I receive is this vehicle seizure notice and from 11 years ago for a car I sold and did not own?

I am livid. But I have a bigger problem.

After 11 years I have absolutley no records to fight this with or even remember who I sold it too. Foolishly, the plates were in my name, although I sold the car.

I am literally afraid to drive my car, for fear of the new techno terminatorbootingvans.

1) Does this mean I cant drive my current car or I will be booted?
2) Does this also mean they are cross referencing by DL # for all vehicles ever owned?
3) How do I fight this in a smart way? Can I win?
4) Can I drive my car while I fight it without fear of being booted.

Thank you for your valuable time and wisdom,

Seizure in Chicago

Dear Seizure in Chicago-

First thing to do is take a deep breath.

Things are going to be alright–at least somewhat.

I did want to congratulate you on fighting and winning that one ticket. Great job. However, you should have at least tried to beat the other ticket. What’s the worst that could happen? You lose and have to pay? You were already going to pay anyway. Every ticket is worth a shot.

But back to the questions at hand.

I have been hearing a lot of stories about the city sending out notices to people on tickets from many, many years ago. I’m not sure what has happened to trigger this, but I think the city has made some changes to their database system and they have discovered a way to link old tickets for vehicles at old addresses to people at their current addresses. I’m still trying to confirm this with the Dept. of Revenue but haven’t heard back yet.

So, you are not alone.

But let me answer your questions one at a time.

1) Does this mean I can’t drive my current car or I will be booted?

From what I have experienced, you can drive your current car with very little fear of being booted for the tickets on that old license plate. The Deathstar vans will be looking for your old license, not the new one.

The fact that your current license is clean, is a very good thing.

However. If you somehow were dumb or unlucky enough (I have been both) to get booted, you will then, most likely, have to pay off tickets on ALL the vehicles that were registered in your name over the years. So keep your nose clean!!!

2) Does this also mean they are cross referencing by DL # for all vehicles

Again, from what I can tell, no (see above). The city databases, at least at this time, does not seem to have the ability to link vehicles with different plates by drivers license number. At least not in the booting process. Like I said before, they can link them manually, but they don’t seem to have an efficient system of linking them automatically–at least at this time.

3) How do I fight this in a smart way? Can I win?

This is definitely a hard one to fight. In fact, I am facing a very similar situation. I believe your and my chances to have these tickets heard are slim, but here is what I plan on trying.

I would take the Seizure Notice into one of the city’s hearing centers and request a hearing. You will have to file a motion for the hearing officer to allow you to have these tickets heard.

Since all the tickets, 11 years later, are in Final Determination, you normally would not be allowed to have these tickets heard–it’s too late.

However, the only way you can possibly have them heard is prove that the city did not give you proper notice of these tickets. This is basically your word against the city’s “word” that they mailed you notice.

The city’s records will claim they sent the notices to the address your Mazda RX-7 was registered.

I would make an impassioned tirade that you never, ever received the notices at that original address. Explain when you moved, you had your mail forwarded to your current address.

Explain that you had sold the vehicle to a mechanic and he said he would destroy the plates and he didn’t or they were stolen. So you could not have received the original violation and NEVER received the notices the city is obligated by law to send to you.

Question the veracity of the city’s records. Why did it take 11 years for the city to send a Seizure Notice, if your address has not changed in a decade? How can we believe the city’s records from 11 years ago if you just got this information this week? You weren’t in hiding from the law. The Secretary of State has all your information. As soon as you got this notice, you came in to address it.

If somehow, the hand of God intervenes on your behalf, and you are allowed to have your tickets heard, you will then have to somehow prove that you had sold your vehicle.

Try to locate any documentation you can. I know, I know. Who the hell keeps documentation from 11 years ago? The IRS only requires you to keep 3 years of tax records on file so why would you have the documentation on crappy car you sold 11 years ago? Try your best.

Tell him your story. Explain that the license plates were not in your possession at the time, so you can’t be held responsible. Give him any documentation you can produce. Be passionate and sincere. The hearing officer just might believe you.

You might want to, even though it’s 11 years later, to go to a police station and fill out a stolen license plate report. This tact works well in the present or recent past when fighting tickets on a stolen or lost plate, but I’m not that confident it will work for plates from 11 years ago, but it’s worth a try.

4) Can I drive my car while I fight it without fear of being booted.

You have 21 days from the date of the Seizure Notice to pay or attempt to have a hearing on the impending boot or, possibly the tickets, before they even start looking to boot your old license plate. So your current vehicle will remain safe.

Look, your chances to beat these tickets are VERY slim. But you have to at least try.

If you don’t beat these suckers, there will be little to no chance of them booting your current vehicle, at least the way the city currently has their databases structured.

You could probably go forever without paying these tickets because the city will be looking for your other license plate. If the city changes their databases in the future to link old plates to current plates via driver’s licenses, all bets are off.

But in the meantime, you are safe.

If you wanted to pay these off, you could send the Dept. of Revenue $10-$20 bucks a month until it got paid off. The city’s current inability to boot your current car because of tickets on your old license plate gives you the luxury of paying at your leisure.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com

If we publish your question, you get an Expired Meter T-shirt–FREE!

Don’t Fear The (Street) Sweeper?

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I have been thinking a lot about the city’s move to trick out their street sweepers with photo-enforcement cameras. And I’m a little scared.

Originally, I thought it was a quaint idea. But I’ve become much more impressed with the insidiousness of the plan.

Consider all the man power that the Dept. of Revenue puts into street cleaning enforcement. Every weekday morning, April through October, from 9 AM to 11 AM or even later, parking enforcement officers are ticketing vehicles which have not heeded the colored cardboard warning signs.

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When street sweepers are camera equipped, these ticket writers won’t be needed. The street sweepers will do all the work. The camera-enhanced sweepers are faster than humans, cover every street to be cleaned AND actually produces photographic evidence to further implicate you.

Drivers won’t be able to argue that the signs weren’t posted, or the ticket was a mistake, because the cameras will photograph their vehicle and license plate, but also document the posted signs–at least that’s my guess.

If that’s not bad enough, think what happens with all those parking enforcement officers. Currently, parking enforcement officer’s are writing tickets in all 50 wards where street cleaning occurs every day.

All the manpower, 50 some parking enforcement officers a day,  that have been freed up from street cleaning enforcement, will be re-assigned to write even more–many more–parking tickets elsewhere. Perhaps your car will become a victim of this improved efficiency. Like I’ve said before, when did “The city that works,” actually become the city that works?

For the city, this is a win-win.

For the Chicago motorist, it’s a big fist up our collective ass.

Damn.

Be Wary Of Special Events This Summer

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Just a heads up.

Over the past few weeks, The Expired Meter has heard multiple horror stories of people awaking on Saturday or Sunday morning to find their vehicle had disappeared or been stolen.

The shocking, expensive and painful reality was that the city had towed their vehicle, from their assumed perfectly legal parking spot, because of some sort of special event, ie: The Ravenswood Run.

Events like walk-a-thons, charity running or athletic event, street festivals, concerts, filming/movie set (starring Johnny Depp), etc.

With the summer event season just getting into full swing, I want to advise everyone to be super-extra-ultra-vigilant–especially if you live close to the lakefront or in a hot neighborhood of the city, where a lot of these events take place.

I want you to watch for special event signs, posters and letters. I want you to stay abreast of these events coming into the neighborhood. I want you to be in touch with your alderman’s office.

I don’t want you to be caught off-guard and get towed because you were not paying attention. I don’t want you to have to endure one of Dante’s very special rings of hell called the Chicago Auto-Pound, have to shell out $160.00 or more and waste the better part of a beautiful summer weekend.

That’s because I care about you dear reader.

The city of Chicago does not.

Be careful this summer.

Justice, Refund, Apology From Global Parking Management–In Other Words, Hell Freezes Over

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As you may recall, a reader of The Expired Meter, had a terrible run in with Global Parking Management. This is the company that has contracts with local businesses who own parking lots, to boot the vehicles of drivers who park there, without patronizing their stores. If not, they immobilize your car and hold it hostage until you fork over a $115.00 ransom.

C.N. was the reader who shared her story a few weeks back. Here is her original Global Parking Management story.

Well, I just received a letter from C.N. who had spent a long time trying to exact justice from Global Parking. Her hard work and persistence has paid off and I’m happy to report her victory as she recently received a full $115 refund from the company.

Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

Yesterday I received in the mail, at long last, a refund check from Global Parking. I spoke to Michael Denigris, one of the company’s owners, on Monday (it took a month of calls and letters, but I finally got him on the phone) and that seemed to do the trick. I insisted all along that Global send me not only a check but an apology — their claim to have “proof” that I did something I never did, continues to make me tear my hair out — and this is not quite an apology. But I’ll take it. I would like to be done with this!

The lesson for those unfairly booted at private lots seems to be: pester, pester, pester. I think I got my money back not because I convinced anyone I was innocent, but because I would not shut up. And a few other points I gleaned from research on this in recent weeks:

(1) When you’ve been booted and the Global lot attendant approaches you and starts his tape recorder, he’ll say (in effect) the following: I am taping now, there’s a boot on your car, it is fully attached, it’s there because you broke the parking rules, do you understand? Try NOT to simply say “yes” in response; apparently that incriminates you, serves as an admission that you broke a rule and deserve the boot (or so explained Global supervisor “Casey” to me). Then be very careful what you say on that tape. It is the primary tool used by Global in their effort to keep your money, especially in lots (like VDO in Roscoe Village) that have no video surveillance.

(2) People seem to lose at their administrative hearings against Global for silly reasons. The booting victim gets the date or time of the incident wrong, or messes up a minor narrative detail, and then the hearing officer concludes that s/he has poor credibility overall, and the incident itself isn’t really considered. This is a pattern that two city attorneys described to me, attorneys who had brought actions against Global before and had never seen the company lose or be penalized in any way. I was told that the city keeps records of all previous hearings and these are public and supposedly accessible at the Daley Center; reviewing them would make sense for anyone faced with an upcoming hearing. In any case, if you’re booted, write down all the details of the incident that day; you’ll need them.

(3) The slip you sign to get your car back after paying the lot attendant says “receipt” at the top and “admission” at the bottom; where you sign your name, it says “violator” and also “I was not forced to sign this paper.” But there is a separate credit card receipt, too. After mulling it over, I now think it might be possible to authorize Global to charge your card (the latter slip) without admitting on paper (their printed “admission”) that you’re guilty — leaving you (perhaps) in a better position to get a refund through the city.

Enjoy the long weekend, and thanks again for your encouragement (and for your one-of-a-kind, invaluable website!).

C.N.

Again, standing ovation for C.N.

I LOVE hearing stories like this. This is the type of pitbull attitude that you need to have when facing even these minor injustices. I’ll admit a $30 ticket or $115 boot fee is small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But it’s really the principle that counts. If you allow the government or a company to screw you for a small amount of cash, you become a victim.

If you at least put up a fight, you may lose, but you lose with honor, having at least had the guts to enter the fight. But, like C.N., you may just be victorious.

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek – 5/27/08

 

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Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

Just wondering, in regards to street cleaning, is it okay to park on a street that is marked for street cleaning after it has been cleaned, even if it is before 3 p.m.?

Thanks,

Kim

A very good question Kim.

A reasonable person could conclude, that if the street cleaning referenced on the signs tied to the trees along the street was completed, one could re-park their car, even if was before 3 PM.

In general, I think once the street cleaners have been swept your street, it’s pretty safe to re-park your vehicle. My experience has been that most tickets for street cleaning are written early in the morning, between 9 AM and 11 AM. So the later in the day, the better your chances of avoiding a ticket.

Being the nervous and paranoid geek I am, I would NOT officially recommend doing this. But to be honest, I have done it myself once or twice in my life, but closer to 3 PM.

If you do decide to re-park after street cleaning, you do so at your own risk.

Technically, you would still be in violation of the law and still be liable if you are ticketed. After reviewing the law, there is nothing written that gives you permission to re-park on the street before 3 PM if street cleaning is complete.

Your shrill protestations during your defense of “the street was already cleaned when I parked my car!”, would not sway the hearing officer. You would be on the hook for the $50 fine.

I went even further investigating this issue and called the 33rd Ward Streets & Sanitation office to speak with ward Superintendent Primitivo Lebron.

Lebron strongly recommended against re-parking before 3 PM.

“The reason is, we sometimes send the street sweeper three or four times down the same street to make sure they’re clean,” said Lebron. “And those guys (Parking Enforcement Officers) will ticket you–they have even ticketed OUR (Streets & San.) vehicles in the past…they’ll ticket anyone.”

Mr. Lebron went on to explain that, in most cases, Streets & Sanitation employees try to remove street cleaning signs as soon as cleaning is completed–and before 3 PM whenever possible.

So there ya go Kim. Chances are low you’ll be ticketed after the street is cleaned, but re-park at your own risk.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com

If we publish your question, you get an Expired Meter T-shirt–FREE!

Happy Memorial Day! – Parking Meters FREE Today

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Today, the entire nation celebrates Memorial Day. A holiday that rightly celebrates the sacrifices the men and women of America’s armed forces have made, over our country’s 241 year history. God Bless them and God Bless America!

In Chicago, in deference to this holiday, King Richard the Second, shows his affection for his loyal and happy subjects by making all parking meters FREE today. Hooray!

So put your quarters away and feel free to park at any metered spot in the city, with no fear of the expired meter and it’s dastardly bright orange counterpart, the parking ticket.

The city has only 6 parking meter holidays a year. Here is the full list.

*New Year’s Day

*Memorial Day

*Independence Day

*Labor Day

*Thanksgiving Day

*Christmas Day

If you don’t believe me, here’s the link for the City of Chicago Parking Meter Holidays.

Fox News Interviews City Clerk Del Valle, Takes Credit For City Sticker Application Improvements

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Fox 32 News did an interview with Chicago City Clerk Miguel Del Valle a few days ago.

Basically, it’s a video story about what we reported here a few days previous regarding improvements to the mailed application for city stickers and residential parking permits as well as improvements to the clerk’s city sticker website.

But Mark Saxenmeyer of Fox News goes on to claim, at least partial credit, for these changes.

The Expired Meter reports…YOU decide!
Fox News Chicago City Sticker Video

Parking Meter Patented 70 Years Ago Today

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70 years ago today, May 24, 1938, patent, #2,118,318 was issued by the U.S. Patent Office for the Coin Controlled Parking Meter.

Magee was a lawyer and newspaper publisher in Oklahoma City, OK.

Magee actually had some help from Gerald A. Hale and Professor H.G. Thuesen of Oklahoma State University.

Gee, thanks guys! Motorists around the planet curse your memory.

Check out these great drawings from the original patent.

Here is the U.S. Patent office’s listing.

After 80 years, nearly 5 million parking meters, manufactured by three major companies, line the streets of this country’s cities, according to the Parking Meter Page.

Happy 80th Anniversary Parking Meter!

New & Improved Street Cleaning Signs?

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It was only a few weeks ago when Streets & Sanitation announced the new color-coded street sanitation signs.

But now, it looks these signs have gone through another transformation.

Originally, each day of the week would get it’s own colored sign to further help residents identify exactly which day of the week they had to be vigilant about moving their car for street cleaning.

But now, it looks like (at least by this sign I came across), that each colored sign will have huge initial letter printed on the sign to further improve sign effectiveness.

I haven’t seen any other day of the week, but like the color-coding, I think this is a nice improvement as well.

Did you catch the very bottom of the sign? It says “Photo Enforced.”

My assumption is that the northside ward where the sign was posted is “privileged” enough to get one of the first camera-equipped street cleaners to insure people who forget to move their cars get ticketed. Lovely.

Local Blogger Pays Parking Ticket Too Quickly

Cheryl writes a blog called Places Never Planned.

Cheryl has a parking ticket horror story that I can’t even begin to do justice describing.

She made the mistake of forgetting to renew her license plates before they expired. It’s happened to me too. But she got ticketed for having an expired license. But that’s only the beginning of her tale.

I’ll let her tell it. Here’s Cheryl’s story.

It’s another sad story of getting screwed by the city of Chicago. I’m not sure she can even fight this. Chances are slim that Cheryl would succeed.

Yeah, I know there are a million of these stories. Perhaps I’m a masochist, but I still like to hear them.

Consider her story a learning experience. Make sure you renew your license plates with the state on time and periodically, check the Chicago’s parking ticket website to check your license plates for phantom parking tickets.