Monthly Archives: February 2009
Dear Parking Ticket Geek,
I am a disabled vet with handicap plates.
Before new parking meter change, I could park at Chicago meters for free. Can I still do this?
Confused in Canaryville
First, thank you for your service to our country. My hat is off to anyone in America’s armed services. God Bless you and people like you that have, and continue to, keep our country safe through service to our country.
But don’t worry. Even though the new parking meter lease deal means drastic meter rate increases, there is no change to the law and your ability to park for free at Chicago parking meters with your handicapped license plates.
The least Chicago can do is allow the a disabled veteran park for free, even if the city sold off their parking meters. So, don’t sweat it and continue to enjoy your free handicapped parking.
Very truly yours,
The Parking Ticket Geek
I got a ticket for “expired meter or overstay.”
I was parked at a meter which I didn’t pay, because the sign said “2 hour parking 9AM-9PM Monday through Saturday.” I assume that means free parking all other times, including on Sunday when I parked there–unless it means no parking at all other times.
Anyway, I got a ticket, and contested it by mail, explaining what I just described. I just got a response saying that the violation did occur and I need to pay up, but that I can appeal the order by filing a civil law suit.
If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. My main questions are:
1-Does that sign mean free parking all other times (ie, after 9PM, before 9AM, and all day Sundays)? and
2-Do I have a chance at winning this if I file a law suit, and what’s involved as far as expense and time?
I shouldn’t be shocked anymore when I hear about hearing officers for the city being so dense, that they can’t understand even the most simple of municipal law.
You are absolutely correct. If the meter said it needs to be fed from 9 AM to 9 PM and you park there at 10 PM, you cannot be ticketed. If you do, it’s an improperly written ticket and it should be dismissed.
The same goes for Sunday. Up until just a few days ago, because of the new parking meter lease deal, only a handful of meters had to be fed on Sundays. If the meter said it only had to be fed Monday through Saturday, and your ticket was issued on a Sunday…even a 4th grader would understand you shouldn’t be ticketed.
I think you should definitely appeal. It is costly to appeal, (I think it’s up to $120 now) and it takes a long time before anything happens. Last time I appealed, it took three to five months to finally play out. But I have won every appeal I’ve made. If you are confident in your case, I say go for it.
If you win your appeal, your filing fee will be refunded.
Thanks and good luck.
The Parking Ticket Geek
I parked in front of a broken parking meter on North Clybourn. There was a 2-hour parking limit at the meter, and I stayed only about one hour, but I received a ticket anyway.
My wife was with me and will accompany me to the in-person hearing I requested for the ticket, and both of us will say that the meter was broken and that we parked at it for less than 2 hours.
Is there anything else that I need to help me avoid being found guilty? I e-mailed Chicago Dept. of Transportation asking for repair records for the meter, but they referred me to the Department of Revenue and I hung up after waiting for about a half-hour to talk to someone.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for my hearing.
What the hell are you talking about? I’m just a doofus with a website. I won’t put up with any of this “Sir” stuff anymore. Cut it out!
But more seriously Paul, you are definitely on the right track. I’m impressed with how your current plan of attack.
Here’s what I would do if my meter was broken and I got a ticket.
First, go back and photograph the broken meter. Snap a photo of the front and back of the meter head showing it saying “FAIL” or without any readout or whatever it says to indicate it’s not working.
Also photograph the little metal plate with the parking meter’s unique number to establish that this is the meter listed on the ticket.
Second, call 312-744-PARK. Follow the robot operator prompts where you can report the meter broken. Do this a few times over the next few days to make sure it takes.
Third, write a letter to the Dept. of Revenue explaining that the meter is broken and they need to fix it. Make sure you list the meter number and approximate address. I would do this right away.
Use this letter as evidence to back up your testimony at your hearing. Also tell the hearing officer that you reported the meter to the city’s Parking Ticket Help Line.
The hearing officer should be able to look up the repair record on the meter during your hearing. Ask him or her to do so.
The calls you made should be on the meter repair record and so should a notation about your letter.
With all this overwhelming evidence and the testimony of your wife, you should hit this one right out of the park.
Good luck and keep us posted.
Very truly yours,
Hi Parking Ticket Geek,
I was borrowing my sisters car one day, and rolled a little, like only 17mph. Put my signal out, and made a right turn, where I could legally make one. The camera flashed because I did not come to a complete dead stop.
Can I fight this??? Or can I at least get half off? The rolling part was so minor…
Let me know, otherwise I am out 100 bucks
Sorry Chris. I only have bad news for you today.
The evil robotic red light camera does not care if you were rolling 17 MPH through the right turn or 1 MPH. Unless you come to complete stop before turning right on red at a red light camera intersection, you will get a ticket.
There is no discounting of a red light ticket for even a “minor” rolling through the right turn. Plus, do you think with the massive budget deficit the city is facing that Mayor Daley is going to work a deal with you?
Give his office a call if you want (312-744-3300) and see if you can work something out with him. I think the Mayor will say, “No f@#king way!”
Sorry Chris. I think your wallet is $100 lighter.
Very truly yours,
The Parking Ticket Geek
Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.
If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query at: email@example.com
While the subject of pedestrian safety is not a subject we would normally dwell on here at The Expired Meter, we do cover driving related topics and the following story is concerning.
Earlier in the week, RedEye and the Chicago Tribune published a piece reporting that pedestrian deaths from traffic accidents, jumped from 48 in 2006 and 49 in 2007, to 56 in 2008. And, just two months into the new year, 2009 seems to be on par with last year.
The article, entitled Pedestrian deaths in Chicago are up despite safety measures, is a reasonably comprehensive piece about this issue and what the city is doing to try to improve pedestrian safety in Chicago.
Here’s the link:
If nothing else, this article should serve as a reminder to both drivers and pedestrians to be careful on the streets of our city.
Suburban Schaumburg has decided to turn off the red light camera that generated nearly $1 million in fines over the last 75 days.
According to the Daily Herald, it seems that nearly 1% of all traffic that made a right on red at the intersection of Meachum & Woodfield Rd., was caught on camera not making a complete stop.
So, in order to improve things there, the town will install a green light arrow at the intersection. The red light cameras monitoring drivers running the red light at that intersection, will remain in place and operational.
By Eric Peterson
Schaumburg’s public safety committee Thursday endorsed a staff recommendation to keep a red light camera turned off that generated nearly $1 million in fines for illegal right turns on red over 75 days.
Instead, the village will install right-turn green arrow signals at the problematic intersection of Woodfield and Meacham roads.
What will remain, however, are cameras to spot drivers who proceed straight through the intersection on a red light.
Village officials said they were stunned that nearly 1 percent of all drivers who went through the intersection from mid-November to early February received a ticket.
More than 10,000 tickets were issued at $100 each. About 98 percent of these were for turning right on red without coming to a full stop.
“We are all to some degree astounded at the number of people who don’t seem to get it,” said committee Chairman George Dunham.
Nevertheless, officials say the camera was never intended as a major revenue generator and they believe the necessary reminder of the rules of the road has been sufficiently provided.
From December to January, traffic on northbound Meacham declined 6.68 percent while violations declined 29.3 percent. During the same time, traffic on westbound Woodfield Road declined 8.33 percent and violations declined 26.3 percent.
The village reported that about 50 negative phone calls, letters or e-mails were received and 380 drivers requested an adjudication hearing. But 74 percent of the tickets were paid by last week, when the right-turn cameras were turned off.
Crashes during the enforcement period dropped to seven from 10 during the same time period the year before. Only two crashes during the enforcement period were from turning right on red, while five were the year before.
Schaumburg resident Bob Garrett questioned whether a reduction of three crashes was worth $1 million in revenue.
The village expects to pay the $10,000 cost of the right-turn green arrow signals out of the cameras’ fine revenues.
Palatine resident Rich Gylling said he thought the arrow signals were an appropriate measure at what he considered an especially confusing right turn.
Watch. Listen. Learn.
Don’t park in a private lot and leave the premises…or you can be towed.
During Wednesday’s Chicago City Council meeting, 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale introduced an ordinance for the city to install countdown timers at each red light camera intersection.
Beale believes these timers would give drivers a much better idea visually, when the green light changes to yellow and the yellow to red.
The argument is that drivers utilizing this real time information will be less prone to getting in rear end collisions by slamming on the breaks so they don’t blow through the red light intersection.
Ultimately, this will improve safety on Chicago streets.
Sun-Times city hall reporter Fran Spielman has the details.
EXPERTS OPPOSED | Alderman calls for countdown signals at all red-light camera corners to cut crashes
By Fran Spielman
Chicago motorists routinely slam on the brakes to avoid getting nailed by red-light cameras. Some have caused rear-end collisions while avoiding the dreaded $100 ticket.
That panicky behavior could come to a halt, if South Side Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) has his way.
Beale has introduced an ordinance that would mandate countdown signals at every one of the 132 accident-prone Chicago intersections where red-light cameras have already been installed and at the 330 intersections expected to get cameras by 2012.
Chicago has 2,900 intersections with traffic signals, but only 230 countdown signals. They’re normally installed to protect pedestrians — by providing anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds of visual warning to get across a busy intersection before the light changes.
But, Beale maintained that motorists also need protection — from each other.
“I’m trying to cure the high accident rate at these intersections during rain, sleet and snow. I’ve seen people slamming on the brakes when the light turns yellow to avoid getting a red-light ticket and getting rear-ended or close to rear-ended,” Beale said.
“If you had a countdown, that would give people a better gauge. You’d have enough time to decide whether you can make it through the intersection or whether it’s better to just slow down.”
Traffic safety experts warned that countdown signals at red-light camera intersections could make the accident problem worse.
“At least some drivers will speed up so they can catch the end of the green. That’s not what we want,” said Robert Seyfried, director of transportation engineering programs for Northwestern University Center for Public Safety.
“Countdown signals are oriented toward pedestrians — not toward drivers. In fact, we don’t really want drivers to notice or pay attention to countdown signals. If they are, at least some of them are gonna speed up.”
Joe Schwieterman, a transportation professor and director of DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute of Metropolitan Development, added, “When you see that thing at three seconds, you floor it. Your eyes focus on the countdown clock. There’s a consequence to that, too. While people would see maybe less slamming on the brakes, it also encourages risky behavior.”
Schwieterman said there are “bigger fish to fry” to improve pedestrian and driver safety than installing countdown signals at a cost of $15,000 per corner and $45,000 at the oldest signals.
“We have serious problems with pedestrians using earplug equipment crossing streets without looking. We have serious pothole problems. We have a need for better traffic light synchronization to keep traffic moving. All of that seems like a higher priority,” he said.
Transportation Department spokesman Brian Steele said the city has been installing countdown signals at a rate of 20 intersections a year.
“The presence of a red-light camera is not the main criteria. … The primary criteria is pedestrian volume. Pedestrian signals are intended to inform pedestrians,” he said.
Red-light cameras have pumped out more than 1 million Chicago tickets and generated $100 million in sorely needed revenue since 2003 while reducing red-light running by 59 percent.
GEEK EDITOR’S NOTE: Our friend Ticketmaster is a Parking Enforcement Aide (PEA) for the city of Chicago Dept. of Revenue.
Ticketmaster has been pounding the pavement of the streets of Chicago, and issuing those darn bright orange violations for many years. Ticketmaster very graciously, answers questions from readers and share their knowledge and experience within the parking enforcement system to give our readers insight and information to hopefully avoid tickets altogether.
Okay, more and more parking meters are getting pulled out and replaced by one pay station per block.
Question: say I am older and don’t walk particularly fast. Furthermore say it is either raining or there is snow on the curb that makes it a bit more difficult to walk on the sidewalk.
I park at the end of a block, notice there is no meter, then find the sign that says I have to locate the pay station. Now the interesting part. It could take almost five minutes or more for me to walk down half the block, locate the pay station, figure out how to use the darn thing, get my ticket, walk back to the car and put the ticket on the dashboard. This is five minutes during which an enforcement agent might put a ticket on my car.
What is the legal status of this ticket?
That is a very good question, and one of our (PEA’s) concerns, when we enforce on blocks with the the “pay and display” system. When we do come across a vehicle without a valid receipt being displayed, obviously we will issue a ticket, now a good PEA while issuing the citation will take a look at the Pay Box and see if anyone is by it attempting to buy time. If not, obviously a ticket will be issued.
Now in your case (and it does happen in the winter time more often, happened to me three times last month and two times so far this month), as long the PEA or CPD officer reasonably believed that the vehicle was in violation, the ticket was valid. Now, here is where you have an advantage. Your receipt is time stamped, and if the ticket was generated by an Autocite (the handheld ticketing computer/printers the PEA’s use), then it will be time stamped as well.
Any reasonable hearing officer can look at the two time stamps and should be able to make a correct decision.
What can you do to help save yourself the headache.
1) Look around before you leave your car, and see if you can see a ticket writer. If you do, let us know, that you are going to feed the pay box and bring the receipt right back. That is the best thing to do.
2. If you can afford it, (and it is a great device. Made an excellent birthday gift for the wife) buy the ParkMagic (an in-car meter–it’s like I-Pass for parking) device. Call an 800#, add the time, and enjoy the time away from your car.
3. If you do get a ticket, contest it, and when you win, take knowledge in the fact that you beat the system, and you made some poor ticket writer look incompetent.
I would like to know if most parking tickets in Chicago are issued by Police officers or Parking Enforcement Aides?
And finally are most parking tickets issued by PEA’s in commercial areas where as parking tickets issued by Police in residential areas?
Please let me know. Thank you.
1. Parking Enforcement Aides write more tickets than CPD. Which is the way it should be. While the PEA’s are writing the tickets, CPD can be out there catching criminals and protecting our streets.
2. We are like the CPD. We are city wide. We are everywhere.
I received a ticket for parking my pickup on the street in the 2000 block of N. Oakley. This location is clearly in the 32nd ward.
Section 9-64-170 (a) states that pickup trucks and vans are excepted in a group of wards, the 32nd included.
What gives? Don’t they train the ticket writers to follow the law? Slow day/night? Below quota, so just write some bogus ones, maybe they will stick?
Yes, the DOR does train us. We also follow the law. Sure management wants a high ticket count, however it is not about quantity, but quality.
As an example: A PEA who only writes 30-40 tickets with 99% tickets sustained is much more valuable than someone who writes over a 100 tickets with only 50% sustained.
Not only does the higher quality provide more revenue, it also provides a better image of a good worker who takes pride in their work.
Now in your case for your truck parked in the 32nd ward, what you have failed to notice, and if you have read on, it does state 9-64-170 (a) states that pickup trucks and vans are excepted in a group of wards, if the appropriate permit is displayed..
Here is the link to the City Clerks website hopefully it will be able to help answer any further questions that you may have.
Again, more awesome info from Ticketmaster.
If you have a question for Ticketmaster, please send your questions to either:
Finally a break for drivers.
It seems the only positive thing about the Chicago budget deficit is that the city cutbacks in personnel is resulting in less cars getting towed off streets with an overnight winter parking ban.
According to the Sun-Times’ fabulous city hall reporter, Fran Spielman, there have been 3,604 LESS cars towed off winter ban streets than last year resulting in an estimated loss of $580,000 in desperately needed revenue for the city.
This info should NOT be considered encouragement to park on these winter parking ban streets. Don’t do it! Read the signs! Be careful! Do not risk being towed!
Check out the details in Ms. Spielman’s flagrant act of journalism below.
By Fran Spielman
Drivers who defy Chicago’s winter overnight parking ban normally find their cars missing the next morning. They’re snapped up and towed away in a flash.
Not so this winter.
Towing has nearly been cut in half — from 7,529 vehicles between Dec. 1 and Feb. 16 last winter — to 3,905 during the same period this winter. And the city has lost nearly $580,000 in towing and storage revenues at a time when most other tax revenues are plummeting — because of a shortage of field vehicle investigators.
Field vehicle investigators write tow cases and tickets on the 109 miles of street where overnight parking is banned from Dec. 1 through April 1 no matter the weather conditions. Only when vehicles are written up can tow trucks be called in to swoop them up.
Mayor Daley’s 2009 budget eliminated the jobs of all but four of 31 full-time field vehicle investigators assigned to handle the towing of abandoned vehicles.
Although snow tows are handled by seasonal hires, union bumping rights gave the laid-off, full-time investigators a chance to apply for the seasonal jobs. That delayed the hiring process and slowed the number of snow tows.
Until Tuesday, only five of the 10 positions were filled.
“We wanted to make sure people laid off had a chance at full-time work. That process takes time,” said Streets and Sanitation spokesman Matt Smith.
“We’re looking out for the workers to make sure they land on their feet. While there is a delay, it’s for a good reason.”
But Lou Phillips, business manager of Laborers Union Local 1001, accused the Daley administration of “dropping the ball” on the “biggest money-making season of the year” for city towing.
“In previous years, when asphalt helpers were laid off in December, they were moved directly to Streets and San as field vehicle investigators. That wasn’t done this year. They didn’t follow up,” Phillips said.
The decline in snow-tow revenues could not come at a more difficult time. Chicago’s 2009 budget is already $50.5 million in the hole.
It’s not like aldermen weren’t warned.
In an Oct. 20 letter urging aldermen to restore the job cuts, field vehicle investigators argued that they generated $27.2 million in annual revenue, nearly $1 million per investigator.
“It simply defies logic for a city that supposedly works to virtually eliminate a department that works — and works at a profit,” the letter stated.
Local blogger Ali Weiss has some thoughts on Chicago’s new parking meter lease deal that just went into effect.
I think for the most part, she’s right on target.
Top five things I predict will occur as a result of Chicago parking meter increases:
1) Less commerce on business thoroughfares due to meters expiring faster.
2) Less commerce on business thoroughfares due to people spending their money on tickets.
3) More drunk driving.
4) More neighborhoods required to instate zoning permits because visitor traffic moves to side streets to avoid meters.
5) A sudden boom for garages and city revenue officials, leading eventually to investigation and another long, grueling scandal.
I’d read up for more answers on this site but for now I’ve gotta leave myself time for the Sunday El to arrive since I can’t park anywhere around Schuba’s
In regards to this new crappy parking meter deal, it’s been hard to have any emotions except for anger, frustration and sadness.
While I don’t always agree with his hand drawn point of view, his cartoons are almost always hilariously poignant.
Higgins hits the mark again with this past Sunday’s shot at the parking meter lease deal.
Get your laughs in now. Things are only going to get worse.
The Geek is OTL’s “official” parking correspondent and favorite candidate for electroshock therapy.
Thanks again to Andy & Mike for letting the Geek run his mouth on their great show.