DCD: Parking wars beyond the bumper


February 22, 2001
65 K Street N.E.
10:45 a.m.

I seem to accumulate tickets quicker than the cockroaches reproduce in my friends’ Schenley residence hall room. Parking, speeding or having no registration – you name it, I’ve gotten a ticket for it. When I’m at fault, I usually pay the tickets and get on with my life, but this week I fought back.

I was parked on the corner of 21st and H streets right in front of the Hippo statue at about 9 p.m. You would think the trusty hippo would watch over my car, but I guess he doesn’t like me anymore – go figure.

The sign on the street where my car was parked read:

Tow Away Zone
No Standing
7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Monday – Friday

The parking spot was completely legitimate for parking at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night. But, when I returned to my car at around 11:45 p.m. that night I found a parking ticket. I was livid. Not only was it the second ticket I received that week, but I was completely in the right.

Since it was raining the night I got the ticket and my friend and I were in such a hurry to get into the car and drive home, we did not realize the ticket on the windshield. The windshield wipers dragged the pink and white ticket across my window three times in the downpour. By the time I pealed the ticket off my windshield it was all distorted in color and form.

The difference with this ticket and the others I’ve gotten is I decided to fight this one.

Thursday morning I got on the phone and called the number on the back to of the parking ticket to see how I go about fighting it. The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles held walk-in hours to argue tickets from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. I got in my car and drove on over.

Through the metal detector at the door and down one flight of stairs, I started thinking back to my basic law course I took in high school and questioned my ability to make a legitimate argument for my case. I walked up to the counter.

About ten minutes later the numbers 735-740 were called to enter hearing room number three. The judge explained how the trials would work. Each person would be called individually up to the table and would say their name and address into the microphone. The judge would then read the ticket and ask the defendant whether they admit or deny. Obviously we were all there to deny our tickets. Next the defendant would give testimony and provide any supporting evidence, the judge would ask questions and then she would render her decision. It seemed like a simple process.

Since I had the highest number of the group I was the last person who would have to defend herself. The verdicts the judge delivered were even by the time my number was called. Three tickets upheld and three tickets dismissed. Now it was my turn.

I walked over to the chair in the middle of the room without hesitation. I was ready. I had evidence in my pocket. There was no way I could lose.

My testimony was simple. I was parked under a no-standing sign with specific time ramifications. I was parked within the boundaries of the sign in exception to the time ramifications of illegal parking, making the spot a legal parking location at the time when the car was parked and ticketed.

Maybe I hadn’t forgotten what I learned in that law class almost four years ago. The judge then asked me if I had any evidence and I whipped out two photos. One picture was of the sign and another one documenting the block where the incident occurred.

The judge looked at the pictures, made a few notes for her records and dismissed my ticket. I got off!

I’m sure I’ll be back in that hearing room some time soon, but my next court stop is in New Jersey. I got a speeding ticket last month and have a court date of March 15th. Wish me luck.

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