The Geek’s Take On RedEye Cover Story
On Monday, I received a few notes asking what I thought about the RedEye’s cover story on fighting parking tickets. So, being the opinionated jerk that I am, I thought I would pass on my thoughts.
After many years of being completely underwhelmed by decent information and news coverage on fighting parking tickets in Chicago’s media, my expectations for RedEye’s cover story on the subject were not high.
So, it was with some trepidation that I picked up Monday’s RedEye getting off a plane that evening, after spending the weekend out of town on business.
Actually…it was pretty damn good!
Basically, it’s a suite of four stories all related to, duh, fighting Chicago parking tickets. For the RedEye, a publication that redefined brevity in news coverage, to devote two full pages of coverage to this issue is, to say the least, impressive.
The cover story, Orange Alert (Damn! A Parking Ticket-How To Beat Them) is a fair and decent, general overview of the parking ticket situation in Chicago.
In fact, writer Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz comes up with some interesting stats on fighting tickets that are contrary to recent historical averages.
Of the 117,746 parking tickets contested by mail last year, 72,584 tickets—62 percent—were tossed out, according to Scott Bruner, director of the city’s Department of Administrative Hearings. Of the 142,594 parking tickets contested at in-person hearings, 80,008 tickets—56 percent—were dismissed, Bruner said.
Previously, the stats were somewhat reversed as nearly 70% of all in-person hearings were dismissed and just about 50% of all tickets contested by mail were dismissed.
Based on the pre-2007 stats, it was easier to rationalize opting for the in-person hearing versus sending in a letter as there was about a 20% better chance of winning.
I still feel your chances are better in an in-person hearing as I believe that human to human interaction with the hearing officers allows for more information to be communicated.
But, obviously, some people are more comfortable organizing their thoughts in the written word. Perhaps, the art of the letter has not been lost in the age of txt mssging, and maybe people are just writing some damn convincing contest letters.
These stats in total also reveal some interesting info. Just under 10% of all tickets issued are contested, with just over 5% of all tickets being dismissed.
That’s a 5% failure rate. In other words, at least 1 out of 20 tickets issued by the city was written improperly.
Now think for a minute. How many people who receive improperly written tickets say “screw it!” and just pay the fine because they don’t have the time or knowledge to fight it? It’s probably at least equal or more than the number of tickets that are actually contested.
A documented 5% failure rate is pretty poor performance. If you and I failed that often, we may not be employed for very long.
Elejalde-Ruiz next story, It’s Unfair, is the best article of the bunch. This is the type of practical info someone fighting a ticket should know.
While some of the explanations are technically accurate, but not necessarily practical, the only major issue is with this part of the article is this:
Defense: “I don’t have a city sticker because I have out-of-state license plates!”
All Chicago residents who have been living in the city for at least 30 days must obtain and properly display a city sticker, regardless of where their vehicle is registered. So cars with out-of-state license plates still can be ticketed for no city sticker.
Cars can be ticketed, but it’s a bullshit ticket. Tickets for city sticker violations on vehicles with out of state plates is relatively rare and easily beatable. The reason is that the law speaks to residency.
For example, if you are going to college in Chicago but really live somewhere else, are you truly a resident of Chicago? Why can’t someone have multiple residences? Why does having a residence in Chicago trump a residence in another city, state or suburb?
If you are registered outside the city, through the ticketing process, it will be very difficult for the city to disprove your outside Chicago residency. The cops and parking enforcement officers know this and rarely ticket out of state vehicles.
If you are ticketed, it’s a pretty easy win. Just show them your out of state or out of city registration, perhaps a few pieces of mail to yourself at that address and never say you actually reside in the city.
So, if you want to keep your car registered in Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin or wherever–do it!
But for your protection, keep things consistent and make sure your drivers license has the same out of Chicago address as your vehicle registration.
And if you are registered in Illinois, especially the suburbs, get a vehicle sticker from your local village or municipality where you car is registered just to keep the heat off.
The third story, Chicago Tickets By The Numbers, is a short sidebar of data highlighted by the 2.9 million tickets written annually, which translates in $164 million in revenue, written primarily by just 92 parking enforcement aides. That’s a lot of tickets and a lot of revenue generated on the backs of vehicle owners.
The final sidebar is called Chicago Blog Helps You Beat The Orange, which spotlights advice from some idiot called The Parking Ticket Geek at a website called The Expired Meter. In my humble opinion, he’s a totally mentally unstable, dumbass.
Overall, it gets a Geek Grade of B+, for perhaps, being one of, if not the most comprehensive mainstream media coverage of fighting Chicago parking tickets in a very long time.