Category Archives: Horror Stories
We were not disappointed.
In fact, we’re really impressed.
Because the juvenile and illegal ticket writing activity that this one cop seems to have performed, needs to be condemned.
In fact, the cop in question, at the very least punished, but should be fired.
Writing improper parking tickets for some stupid, silly vendetta is WRONG! Policeman are professionals and need to act like it.
The vast majority of police officers are decent, hard working folks dedicated to keeping you and me safe.
But when pinheads, like the cop in question, do stupid and illegal things to the citizens they are sworn to protect, their behavior undermines the public’s ability to hold cops in the high regard they deserve.
SCC comes out and tells it like it is. He stands up for the idea of doing things the right way.
But check out the comments. There’s a lot of divided thought on this subject. Sadly, too few somehow try to rationalize this type of behavior. Repulsive.
But here’s SCC’s take.
- Over the last 16 months, Mark Geinosky has received 24 parking tickets.All but one have been dismissed. You can bet that one will be thrown out, too, when he goes to administrative court next week.For reasons Geinosky can’t explain, he believes Chicago police officers have targeted him with the barrage of citations—sometimes issuing four tickets at a time for such things as parking too close to a fire hydrant, obstructing the roadway or leaving his vehicle in a crosswalk.
- Of the 24 tickets he has received, 13 were written by the same officer. The Problem Solver is not naming the officer because he has not been charged with any wrongdoing. The 13 tickets were written at four different South Side locations in May, July, August and October of last year. All 13 of those tickets were written at exactly 10 p.m., no matter which day they were issued. And all 13 were sequential in number, meaning that from May to October that officer wrote no tickets to anyone other than Geinosky from the ticket book in question.
Why do idiots make it so hard for the regular boys and girls to show up, do their job and try to do it well and with pride with crap like this?
A reader named Sean sent me this really depressing story that I wanted to share with you.
My parents still live in Chicago and my Dad has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Well, last year he put a new city sticker on the outside (facing in) of my parent’s car windshield rather than the inside (facing out). It was an honest mistake and my elderly parents didn’t want to damage the sticker by taking it off. They figured that they paid the cost of the sticker and my mom sparingly drives their garage kept car.
Of course, only my Mom drives due to my Dad’s disease.
Sure enough, the one day my brother borrows the car to visit a friend downtown for less than hour, he comes out to find a nice $100 ticket slapped on the car for an improperly displayed city sticker.
Needless to to say, that was a bitter pill to swallow. My Mom and brother, motivated now more than ever after this incident, gathered proof of my Dad’s Alzheimer’s (medical prescriptions) and asked their local alderman to mail a letter of contest with proof.
A week later my Mom gets a denial letter.
Unbelievable. You can’t win for losing.
Technically, the ticket was valid in this case. Technically.
But where the hell is the humanity and understanding in this particular situation?!?
Based on the circumstances and proof, couldn’t the hearing officer have looked the other way on this one? Couldn’t the hearing officer have just dismissed it, then warn or encourage Sean’s mom and family to fix the situation at the City Clerk’s office?
The sticker is on the car. The sticker has obviously been paid for. The sticker is being displayed, albeit incorrectly by the letter of the law, but displayed all the same.
While it would not necessarily have been legally correct to dismiss the ticket, it would have been the right thing to do in this case.
An elderly parent facing this terrible disease is already difficult enough. But to have to be reminded of it in such an insulting way seems piling on to my mind. I don’t know Sean’s parent’s financial situation, but most retired people are on a fixed income. So $100 may be a lot for them.
Is ripping that $100 out of the hands of an elderly man fighting Alzheimer’s disease what our city has been reduced to? Revenue at any costs?
GEEK TICKET TIP: If you have a problem like this with your city sticker, you can get a replacement sticker for a nominal fee. You will need to surrender your original sticker (no matter the condition after you peel it off the windshield) and provide a receipt of your original purchase. When you peel off the sticker, try your best to keep the sticker’s number as legible as possible.
For more info, check out the City Clerk’s website on city stickers.
GEEK EDITOR’S NOTE: Our friend Ticketmaster is a Parking Enforcement Aide (PEA) for the city of Chicago Dept. of Revenue.
Recently, because the Geek has been so busy (with my real life alter ego) and distracted with all the news surrounding the parking meter lease deal, Ticketmaster’s usually regular column has been getting preempted.
My sincere apologies to readers and especially to Ticketmaster, who has been a great contributor to our goofy website.
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.
Are parking ticket books carbon copy, with more than one copy one for the car and one for office records
Please let me know as soon as you can.
Thank you and stay safe out there.
The actual ticket book contains the copies per ticket. The Top Sheet “hard sheet” goes to the Department of Revenue, The 2nd sheet “Onion Skin” the PEA holds onto, and the third sheet “hard copy” the citizen gets.
P.S. Why do you need to know right away?
Dear Mr. Ticketmaster,
What happens when a street sign gets covered up with snow like the photo I’m sending? I think it’s for residential parking.
But what happens if someone parks on the street and can’t read the sign or doesn’t see the sign because of all the snow? Do the PEA people ticket or not ticket? Is there any discretion there? What do you think?
We see a lot of signs like that this time of year, and that is when discretion will definitely play a role. There are some aggressive PEA’s who will ticket the vehicles anyways and there are some who won’t. If it was me, that would depend on the area I am in and if there are other signs that are clearly visible on the block.
I am a pizza delivery driver on the north side and wanted to know if you had any advice for me to avoid tickets.
The problem is, we often have to park illegally for a few moments just to run a pizza into a house or apartment. Sometimes we have to double-park with our flasher on, or pull into a hydrant space or park close to a stop sign. I have a hand written sign on pizza cardboard in my back window.
I haven’t received a ticket yet. Do cops or the parking ticket aides know to cut guys like me a break? Is there any pizza delivery laws? I’m just trying to do my job and make a few bucks on tips.
Any help or advice would be appreciated.
I must be the bearer of bad news. There are no special laws on the books for pizza delivery drivers, or any other delivery vehicle as well. FIRST OF ALL: REPEAT AFTER ME. “I WILL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE PARK ON A FIRE HYDRANT!!!”. There are no breaks on that violation (flashers or otherwise).
However, you can lower your risk for being ticketed: The sign in your window does help, especially with the flashers. If by some small chance you do see somebody on the block enforcing, let them know that you are making a delivery. Never assume that we see you unloading or delivering a pizza. Be polite, acknowledge that you see us and ask if it is OK to park there for a couple of minutes and 99.9% of the time, you will be extended a courtesy.
There is one BIG caveat to that. We always do not know whether or not someone else is patrolling the area and if they do come up on the scene, they may not know that you were given a break and may issue you a ticket. So when you say a couple of minutes, better keep track of that time because we do move fast.
As far as our training goes, if the vehicle is parked illegally, we can ticket it and sleep with a clear conscience. Now this is where the 2nd part comes in, our discretion and if there is any Special Attentions.
NOTE: A Special Attention is a request that comes from an alderman’s office. Usually is a result of too many complaints on a particular block. That area is made a priority and we have to report back our results
If a Special Attention was put on an area, most likely, no breaks would be given. Now with our discretion, every PEA is different. Some are easy going, and there are others that will issue tickets like they are giving away candy canes. Out in the neighborhoods, PEAs are usually easy going and won’t bother a legitimate delivery driver (we know that they are usually gone in 5 minutes or less).
Downtown, that’s another story. Parking spaces are at a premium and we need to share, there is no such thing as a couple of minutes delivery, but it is also harder to get a ticket downtown (so many people downtown are writing tickets) so there is almost no flexibility given. I know it’s a bummer, but what can we do?
STORY FROM THE FRONT LINE:
Since we are talking about delivery vehicles, thought you would love this. It was just after 911 and the city’s tow division was on a warpath for towing vehicles. This FedEx truck was double parked on a street making a quick delivery, the PEA was issuing a ticket for the double park (the street was narrow and the double park was messing up traffic) but before the ticket was even finished printing, a city tow truck had hooked up the vehicle, took the ticket from the PEA and rode off into the sunset. From what I understand, that PEA hauled their backside out of the area before the FedEx driver came back out. Guess somebody was not going to get their package delivered next day.
This also didn’t just happen to FedEx. In fact, one company’s vehicles were being towed so often, that they hired “security guards” to sit in the vehicle so it would not be towed. They would gladly accept the $50.00 ticket as long as they weren’t going to be towed.
As usual, more great info from Ticketmaster.
If you have a question for Ticketmaster, please send your questions to either:
A reader sent this tasty morsel to us a few days ago. OUCH is right.
Some poor schmuck walked out of of Adm Hearings just now to find a boot on his car. Right in front of the front door at the 1st meter to the right. He looked shocked. Looked at the ticket, the boot, got in the booted car, got out, and finally walked back in. OUCH! At least he doesn’t have to figure out how to drive to the facility to contest the boot!
Everyone has a bad day once in a while.
Sometimes, we all have some pretty damn horrible days.
A reader named Brian ran into one of those doozy of day recently.
Basically, his car died on Lake Shore Drive. He pulled it off at the Grand Ave. exit and coasted into a No Parking Zone. While he waited by the vehicle for a tow truck, some idiot cop wrote him a ticket.
So, Brian fought the ticket, but lost. He was still found liable.
Here’s his story via the contest letter he mailed:
I am writing to contest this citation. On the morning of Friday, June 27th, 2008, at approximately 8:30 am I was driving northbound on Lakeshore Drive, when my vehicle began to have trouble, and the engine failed. I was able to maneuver the vehicle off to the side at the Chicago River bridge, and coast the vehicle down the Navy Pier exit ramp. I let the vehicle roll to the safest spot I could find near the Navy Pier entrance that was not blocking any traffic and put my hazard lights on. The area that I parked my disabled vehicle was marked as a tow zone. I attempted to restart the vehicle several times, then called a friend who was able to come by in about 30 minutes. We tried to get the vehicle started again. The Navy Pier security vehicle came by, and asked about the condition of the vehicle, and I indicated to them that I was going to need a tow truck at this point. They called in for a tow truck for me.
At around 10:25am, I was standing in the shade near my vehicle, when the Chicago Police car pulled up. I walked over to the patrol car to speak with the officer. The officer (O’Connor Badge #: 10XXX) was sitting in the drivers seat and she rolled down the passenger side window. I leaned in to tell her that I was waiting for the tow truck to arrive, when I noticed she was writing a ticket. I asked her why she was writing a ticket. She said “oh, your car is disabled?”… well… too bad, I already started writing the ticket”. I stood there for a second in shock as she continued to write me a ticket. I asked her again… “why are you writing me a ticket? I am broke down and the tow truck is on the way?” She said, I can’t stop writing the ticket now… so you’ll just have to contest it….it will probably be dismissed. She then reached over and handed me the ticket.
The Navy Pier security men came over again to check on me, and I told them that the officer had given me a ticket for being a stranded motorist parked in a safe area with my hazard lights on. They were disgusted… as am I. The tow truck came, and we towed my vehicle to the car dealer for repairs. I am enclosing a copy of the receipt for the towing, and a card for the car dealer repair person.
I also decided that this type of behavior by the officer (O’Connor Badge #: 10XXX) was highly unprofessional and that I would file a complaint against her (Complaint # 1017XX). I have contacted several persons at the police department, and spoke with several Sgts. The last person I spoke with was a Sgt. Dunn, to whom I explained the entire situation. Sgt Dunn agreed with me that this officer used poor judgment in issuing me this ticket, and that if it were her, she would not have issued me the ticket. Sgt. Dunn assured me that she would take this matter to the officer’s commander and discuss it.
Unfortunately, this type of situation is a classic example of how the City, the Police Dept, and the Dept of Revenue are not functioning properly. If this violation is not dismissed, I will be taking this to higher authorities, and the press. Things need to be fixed if a tax paying citizen who gets in car trouble can only expect help from the Chicago Police (to serve and protect) is a ticket – DIDN’T EVEN ATTEMPT TO HELP ME OR ASSIST IN ANY WAY – then we need to revamp the entire system.
The problem for Brian is that there is nothing in the municipal code (at least that I could find) that protects a driver in a situation like this.
Normally, a cop or PEA would check out the situation, ask a few questions and probably go on their way knowing, this was a disabled vehicle and help was on the way.
That would be the correct and ethical thing to do. And in most cases, this is the way things are done.
For whatever reason, in this situation, the cop wrote the ticket. Very uncool.
But again, I don’t see how you defend against this. There is no law that says “you can temporarily park in a tow zone if your transmission just took a crap and left you stranded there” or “you can park in a tow zone until the tow truck comes.”
I have found some language in the muni code dealing with the towing of disabled or abandoned vehicles, but in both case the disabled vehicle was not unattended.
While the hearing officer can use the law to make his decision, common sense should have overruled the muni code in this case and the ticket should have been dismissed.
Brian, you’re the victim of both stupid cop and a stupid hearing officer.
I don’t think Brian will be donning his I Love Chicago T-shirt anytime soon.
Check out this great story from Sunday’s Chicago Sun-Times.
The Sun-Times exists just to make the city look bad, and this article is a doozy. I think every time the higher ups at city hall pickup the Sun-Times, their sphincters tighten in unison.
It seems the Thomas family’s car was towed and eventually crushed, when no one in the family came to retrieve it from the impound lot. At least that’s what the city of Chicago claimed.
But somehow, the same car with the same license plates, started racking up hundreds of tickets and thousands of dollars in fines.
What?!? Are you telling me there’s some sort of underhanded behavior going on at the city auto pounds?
I am shocked! SHOCKED!! S-H-O-C-K-E-D!!!
I think this story is just the tip of the iceberg. Expect this story to blossom into something bigger.
Woman told vehicle had been crushed–then she started getting tickets for it
BY MAURICE POSSLEY
Call it the case of the ghost car.
A 1992 Chevrolet Lumina was towed to a Chicago Police auto pound in May 2007, and when the owner didn’t retrieve it, the vehicle was reported as crushed for scrap.
Except, it wasn’t.
Instead, over the next 12 months, someone was behind the wheel, blowing through Illinois tollbooths and open-road tolling lanes without dropping a dime. Nearly 200 times, tollway cameras photographed the vehicle as it passed through without paying, mostly on Interstate 294 at the 95th Street and 163rd Street toll plazas, according to tollway records obtained by the Sun-Times.
And in February, a Chicago Heights woman who lives near the 163rd Street toll plaza was pulled over as she drove the car and given four citations: driving the vehicle without proof of insurance, failure to have proof of registration, failure to wear a seatbelt and failure to restrain a child properly.
“Something is really something funky about this,” said Cheryl Thomas, whose son, Gene Thomas, owned the car.
She learned of the toll violations when notices seeking payment for nearly $4,000 were mailed to her home in Alsip.
“The police told me the car was destroyed, but it’s still moving around,” she said. “Something is not right.”
Prompted by inquiries from the Sun-Times, Chicago Police have begun investigating how the car got out of the pound at 650 W. 83rd St.
Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said at first that the car had been crushed, then that the car had been sold by the city’s Procurement Department, which handles such sales.
After Procurement Department spokeswoman Karen Bates said that the car was “taken out of the sale,” Bond inquired further, and officials at the pound reported that the car is currently in the West 83rd Street lot — smashed up and undriveable.
Bond then viewed the photographs taken by Illinois State Toll Highway Authority cameras. “That is the same car,” she said. “I do not see how it could not be the same car. How it got out of the pound is another question.”
Bond denied a Sun-Times request to inspect the vehicle. “We do not allow individuals other than the owners of vehicles or those with court orders on the premises, due to investigative reasons,” she said.
“This raises the question of whether this is an isolated incident or if there are other cars that are being taken illegally out of the pound,” said Dennis Sherman, attorney for the Thomas family.
In Chicago, more than 140,000 cars a year are towed to police auto pounds. In 2004, the Sun-Times revealed that the city of Chicago had paid more than $100,000 over four years to a dozen people whose cars were towed and wrongly sold for scrap metal before the owners could redeem the vehicles.
The Lumina was towed after police charged its owner, Gene Thomas, with murder. Thomas has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. The vehicle was towed to the pound for examination by crime-scene investigators but was later determined to have no evidentiary value, Bond said.
Shortly after, Cheryl Thomas got a notice that the car could be retrieved after paying about $500 in storage and towing fees.
“It wasn’t worth it,” she said. “We are concentrating on getting my son’s case to court and him being found innocent. We decided just to let the car go.”
That was the last she heard about the car until she began receiving notices earlier this year of unpaid tolls and mounting fines. The toll violations began Sept. 15, 2007, and ended June 5.
“I knew nobody I knew was driving that car,” Thomas said. “I called the auto pound, and they gave me a piece of paper showing the car had been disposed of. They said it was crushed.”
Tollway spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis said that after Cheryl Thomas and her husband, Andre Council, presented proof that they did not have possession of the car, the fines and tolls were not assessed against them.
“I thought that would be the end of it,” Council said.
But the license plate on the car was suspended by the Illinois secretary of state’s office May 27 because a woman identified as Kelly Miller had been found guilty in Cook County Circuit Court in Markham of driving the vehicle without proof of insurance.
Miller, 30, of Chicago Heights, gave various accounts of her contact with the car, though she denies she ever drove it without paying tolls.
At first, she said she was in the car only on one day — Feb. 14 — when a Glenwood police officer issued those four tickets. “I was test-driving the car,” she said. “I decided not to buy it.”
In a second interview, Miller said the father of her child — a man she would only identify as “Marcus,” had bought the car for her but that she had not been driving the car because she had not purchased a license plate.
But in a third interview, she said that a man she would only identify as “Mohammad” had met her at an oasis on I-294 and offered to sell her the car. She said she drove it home but, after making a few payments, demanded her money back because Mohammad could not provide a title to the vehicle.
Miller said she had no records of any of her interactions with either Marcus or Mohammad.
When the Sun-Times gave a description of the car to Miller’s mother, Clanatcha Miller, of Robbins, she said, “That’s my daughter’s car.”
Maurice Possley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who recently left the Chicago Tribune. He worked for the Sun-Times from 1978 to 1984.
GEEK EDITOR’S NOTE: My new friend MZ brought this situation to our attention. We appreciate ANY contributions of citizen journalism to The Expired Meter. Thanks MZ! GREAT job!
I thought I’d share this outrage captured on my camera phone (sorry about the quality). It seems that many people who ride a motorcycle or scooter & park downtown on the street have been parking on Franklin between Monroe and Adams (northernmost 1/2 block), on the west side of the street.
It’s become the communal place to park such vehicles. Apparently, the sidewalk was replaced a while back and nobody put up meters or signs.
Unfortunately, on 9/10, some holeass decided to ticket almost EVERY motorcycle & scooter (Photo #1) for no parking all day (Photo #2).
Talk about some serious $$$ for the city–you can easily fit 8 bikes in the space 1 car occupies!
The problem that I have is with Photo #2–a sign that was posted 1/2 block away, behind 2 driveways, a fire hydrant, and an alley… Apparently it means something different in the Loop than in most other parts of the city.
On first glance, most people would assume “no parking, no stopping, no standing 7-9am and 4-6pm Mondays-Fridays”. However, PEAs who write tickets in the Loop (and only in the Loop) take it to mean “no parking ANY TIME ANY DAY; no stopping & no standing 7-9am and 4-6pm Mondays-Fridays”–unless there’s a meter–then the sign means “no parking, no stopping, no standing 7-9am and 4-6pm Mondays-Fridays”.
Now, find the same sign in another part of the city and it means how it reads–no restrictions unless it’s 7-9am or 4-6pm Mondays-Fridays. Similar signs are posted on LaSalle St. between Chicago & North with no meters–yet nobody gets ticketed outside the restricted time.
It would be cool if the affected parties banded together and filed a class-action lawsuit against the city over the intentionally confusing signage. But alas, nobody fights for their rights in Illinois.
On a final note, the one (smart) guy who took his plate off his scooter didn’t have a ticket! Hmmmmmmmmmm…
MZ previously contributed a guest commentary entitled “A Constitutional Amendment On Red Light Cameras?”
Most people spend their Sunday morning reading the newspaper over a cup of coffee, or attending church, having brunch or spending some quality time with their family.
This past Sunday, a group of people in the Pilsen neighborhood, spent their morning fighting a pack of tow trucks that had been dispatched to tow their cars and ruin their weekend.
According to Antar, a resident on that block, No Parking signs were posted Saturday, on one side of the 2200 W. block of 18th Place to insure the block was clear for an event at St. Ann’s Church the next day.
Antar explained he had moved his vehicle to the opposite side of the street, where there weren’t any signs, so he would not have to worry about moving his car in the morning, when the temporary parking ban went into effect at 8 AM Sunday.
But instead of waking to the smell of coffee and the sounds of chirping of birds, Antar woke to the screaming and yelling of his neighbors and the beautiful sound of the winching of cars onto flatbed tow trucks.
People in the street were shouting to their neighbors that tow trucks were towing ALL vehicles off the street despite the lack of proper signage.
“I raced to my keys trying to save my vehicle and looked at the time and it was only 7:59am–no joke,” explained Antar. “There was five to six E&R tow trucks racing in our block that is a cul-de-sac, blocking the entrance and hauling two cars at a time in flat beds. Six cars were taken and as the residents came out, one young man jumped on the flat bed demanding his car.”
Antar says that six cars were spirited away to the autopound initially, and then another batch of cars were being loaded up as angry neighbors started confronting the tow truck drivers and city employees. One young man jumped into his car after it had been loaded onto the flatbed tow truck.
District 012 police were called to the scene to calm the situation as tempers were flaring between the vehicle owners and city employees.
Antar explains the police actually sided with the residents and instructed the Streets and Sanitation employees and Traffic Management Authority tow truck drivers to release the cars on the tow trucks that were already loaded or still in the process of being loaded. St. Ann’s Church personnel also stepped in and asked that the neighbors car not be towed.
Antar says he has it on good authority that word has come down that Streets and Sanitation employees needed to start producing revenue or face possible layoffs when Daley finally starts axing jobs to cut costs for his $450 million budget deficit.
This can be the only logical explanation, as what else would explain this overly aggressive towing? This is a church block party. It’s not rush hour parking. Better judgment would be to relocate the cars around the corner, NOT ticket the vehicle then tow it to the autopound which costs the driver another $115 or so. This type of over the tow truck revenue generation leaves a very bad taste in the mouths of citizens.
Antar wanted me to make sure to thank the District 012 officers who showed up for making sure Streets & San didn’t did a total screw job on the neigborhood.
Antar even passed on a tip from one of the police officers on the scene Sunday.
“If you come out while they are towing your car, just sit in it and they cannot, by law
tow it away,” he said.
I have to agree with Antar–kudos to the District 012 police.
Dear Parking Ticket Geek,
I recently found a parking space that was on a curb underneath the el near my home. The curb was not yellow…and other cars were parked on both sides of me without tickets. I live in Cubs territory so I know how strict the cops can be and the only no parking sign was one of those one day paper signs that was outdated by a week.
I assumed that if there there was a no parking sign for June 14th that it was probably a spot the rest of the time and went ahead and parked my car. Also note that I have been parked in this very same spot for numerous days without a problem in the past.
Anyway, the car was parked there for a total of 3 days. I walk outside on Tuesday night and see my car being towed away. The tow truck guys told me it was because the alarm was going off because of the el and the neighbors called the police because of the noise.
I feel bad about the noise but not $460 bad. After getting to the impound at 11:00 pm waiting 2 hours and being charged an extra $10 since they were in a shift change and unable to clear this up before midnight…I had a total of 2 tickets and one nasty letter from a neighbor. The tickets claimed that I was blocking an alley (nothing about noise)…there is nothing to block and I was definitely still on the street (it is at the end of a court next to a park).
I am wondering if I should fight this with a letter (with a proof-read from my lawyer sister) or would I have better luck contesting in person? The tickets were given last Monday and Tuesday and I was towed by Tuesday night. Don’t they usually give you the boot or something before you are towed? Could the neighbors seeing the 2 tickets have called and requested my car to be towed…? Is there anyway, I would ever get reimbursed for the towing costs?
Anyway, I was curious as to what your thoughts would be regarding my incident. Any help would be appreciated.
YIKES! What a crappy story.
The good news is, in my opinion, you should be able to beat the two tickets AND the tow.
Your case is a bit complex and there are actually two steps to bring about a successful resolution.
First you need to have a hearing for the tow and hearings on the two tickets later.
GEEK NOTE: In most cases, you cannot have both the tow and the tickets heard at once. If somehow, your hearing request for the parking tickets were in the city’s system by the time you have your tow hearing, the administrative hearing officer can and will allow the tickets related to the tow, to be heard after the tow hearing. This is certainly convenient, especially if you beat the tow. But this scheduling serendipity rarely occurs because the tow hearings usually happen sooner than later.
As I was saying, first, you need to get back down to go back to the hell hole auto-pound ASAP to schedule a hearing. You only have 14 days from the date of the tow to request a hearing. Past the 14 days, you waive your right to contest the tow. The only upside with auto pounds is they’re open 24 hours a day, so you don’t have to miss any work to do this.
You will need to speak to a manager about scheduling a hearing for your tow. Do not wait in the normal line as the main line can take hours for you to get to the front. You’re not there to retrieve your vehicle, but schedule a hearing.
So go around to the side and politely explain you want to contest a tow. Make sure you bring all your documentation: paid tow receipt, drivers license, registration, etc. You’ll fill out some forms and then they will let you pick a date in the near future (a few days to a few weeks). Pick a date that gives you time to prepare a defense.
Please note that tow hearings are similar to parking ticket hearings but are scheduled very rigidly. They are scheduled by specific date AND time. Don’t miss your hearing or the tow will stand, as you have in essence given up your chance to be heard.
Your hearing will take place at The Central Hearing Facility located at 400 W. Superior.
On the date of your hearing, you’ll talk to an attorney from the city. He or she will speak to you before the hearing and show you all the “evidence” and documentation he has which should include the tickets, the tow receipts and possibly some written notes or testimony from the tow truck driver.
He or she, will talk to you off the record and may ask you if you still want to proceed after seeing the city’s evidence and documentation.
Sometimes, if they look over their evidence and talk to you a little bit, they may realize right then and there that it was a bad tow and tell you they will ask the hearing officer to have the tow dismissed and your money refunded.
But, in most cases, the attorney for the city will go forward with the hearing.
You will stand in front of the hearing officer at a podium on the left, the city attorney will stand at the podium to the right.
You will be sworn in and then the city (the attorney) will make their case.
After the city attorney is done, the hearing officer will ask for your testimony and to see your evidence.
Bring in your photographs of the spot. Also bring in photos of the area surrounding the spot from where you were towed. Try to demonstrate with your photos that you weren’t even near the alley (or the alley did not exist according to you) and that other vehicles surrounded you–so why were you towed and not them? Bring in photos of any street addresses you can find and/or a street sign, to establish that the photos you’ve brought in are where you were towed from.
In your testimony be resolute and forceful that you were not parked illegally and definitely not parked in the alley or blocking the alley or that no alley even existed.
If you have a friend who saw your car being towed, bring them along with their testimony. Witness testimony is very compelling to hearing officers and will greatly strengthen your case.
If I were you I wouldn’t even mention the car alarm. The tickets are for blocking an alley, NOT for the alarm and therefore are irrelevant to this case. Mentioning this fact will only confuse things and weaken your case.
I can’t see how you could lose this case if you bring in enough photographic evidence and testify strongly in your defense.
I have had vehicles towed three times and have beat the tow all every time, in similar situations like yours. It can be done.
After you kick the city’s ass and the hearing officer rules in your favor. The attorney from the city will have you sign paperwork to have a refund check sent to you. It will take 6-8 weeks for this to happen.
Isn’t that just precious? The city needs their $160 immediately even when you were wrongly towed, but takes 6-8 weeks to return the money they stole from you. Nice!
You will have to request hearings for the tickets.
And even though you beat the tow, you are still going to have these tickets heard at whatever later date the city gives you for the two tickets.
This hearing should be even easier. That’s because after beating the tow, you have documentation from the city stating that you beat the tow for these two tickets and that hearing officer didn’t think you were blocking the alley.
So make sure you bring all your victorious tow hearing documentation along with all your photographic evidence used in the tow hearing.
Go ahead and present the same testimony and photographic evidence, AND your tow hearing documentation proving you beat the tow and again, you should beat these two tickets as well.
If somehow, someway, you don’t win your tow hearing, go ahead and fight the tickets using the same testimony and evidence. If you lose the tow hearing due to a lack of evidence or proper testimony, do what you need to do to prove your case.
PLEASE get back to us after your tow hearing to tell us what happened. Good luck Emily. Now go down to your hearing and kick some ass!
Very truly yours,
The Parking Ticket Geek
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is a re-posting from several months ago, when my server took a major dump and crapped out about 15 posts.
The wonderful and lovely Pam Zekman, and queen of the investigative journalism in Chicago, did a very interesting piece on what’s wrong with the parking ticket system in Chicago. And as we all know, there is much wrong with the system.
Zekman’s piece claims there are many, many bogus parking ticket issued in Chicago. While I enjoyed the reporting, it’s kind of a huge DUH!
To me, the most revealing part of her report is when she interviews a former Administrative Hearing Officer. The former hearing officer basically says what I have been saying for years–that hearing officers are not trained well and many do not know what they are doing.
Check out the full video report here courtesy of CBS-2 Chicago.