The following excerpt is from Time Out Chicago (week of 8/20/09). I've given tips (or rather, venting sessions) about rules of the highway and proper driving procedure. As a change of pace, this article provides some insider tips about parking tickets. This should be especially useful since the city's much aligned (and, let's face it, horribly run) privatized parking deal with LAZ. Also of note, parking by the lake won't be free anymore by the end of the summer, which makes the article even more helpful.
Former City Parking-Enforcement Officer
About 2.6 million parking tickets are written annually in Chicago, and only 10 percent are contested. That’s a shame, says Sheldon Zeiger, the former city hearing officer who wrote and published Stick it to your ticket (12.95), a guide to demystifying the battle against tyrannical parking fines. “All the citizen needs to do in his defense is reduce the case to 50/50, and the hearing officer should dismiss it, “Zeiger says.
As soon as you spot the orange slip on your car, don’t toss it into your glove compartment. Zeiger suggests a little crime-scene investigating. “Was the ticket written properly? Did the officer write down the right location? The right plate number? The right make? Did he put the right time? Let’s say there’s a real problem with the location – the officer wrote down the 200 block of Halsted but you were parked on the 300 block of Halsted. Right there you can contest the ticket and say, ‘Look, the ticket wasn’t written correctly on its face.’ A lot of tickets are dismissed for that reason.”
If all the basic ID information is correct, look at the explanation for the ticket. You might realize you’re being ticketed for a sign violation but there aren’t any signs there or they’re obscured, “ Zeiger says. Now, you can begin forming your defense—gathering evidence and witnesses. “Take photos with your cell phone and ask members of your party to sign a notarized statement.”
Your defense should not be based on excuses. In deciding more than 100,000 parking-ticket cases over 15 years, Zeiger says he’s heard of everying from variations on the Good Samaritan (“I was reading to the blind. How could you ticket me?”) to claims of sexual blackmail (“The officer tried to pick me up and when I said no, he gave me a ticket”). “Excuses never work,” Zeiger says, “but proof does.”
Bad Luck Trends Help Us All
Just looking over the 8/20 edition of the Sun-Times, we have:
-a 20 year old suspect randomly attacking Tom Barrett, who just happens to be mayor of Milwaukee
-two men attacking firefighter Matt Jones in a spot right on a CPD patrol route
-a man scarfing down a sandwich and sloppily licking his fingers after each bite, perhaps unknowingly conversing with nationally-syndicated columnist and critic Richard Roeper
Three stories and three chance encounters. In each instance, the anonymous perpetrator had no idea that he was basically committing these acts while around public (actual or eventual) figures. While it's true that one should pretty much be on good behavior everytime they're out and about, it's doubly more important when you realize that you never know who you'll meet some day. Beating up a mayor and a firefighter could bring about extra charges that wouldn't normally come from attacking a regular joe, but then again, you don't really know who's a regular joe and who's not. The solution to this problem is simple: treat everyone as if they're not.
As for the finger-licking man by Roeper? That's just gross, man. It may not be a crime, but it's annoying and sick, and getting publicized like that is punishment that fits the crime. *blech!*