Do you know which elements of a parking ticket are not required?
I frequently received telephone calls and comments from wonderful members of the NYC driving community asking questions about required elements. For example, is the “VIN” number a required element? How about “color?” What does “N/S” (“Not Shown”) or “N/A” (“Not Applicable”) mean when these letters are inserted for “expiration date,” or “year?”
The more questions I received, the more it appeared that the driving community knew the elements that are required (like plate #, state, plate type, body type, etc.) but aren’t so sure about which elements are not required.
Let’s see if we can illuminate the positive and eliminate the elements that are not required.
What is a required element?
“In most legal proceedings, one party has a burden of proof, which requires it to present prima facie evidence for all the essential facts in its case. If they cannot, its claim may be dismissed without any need for a response by other parties. A prima facie case might not stand or fall on its own; if an opposing party introduces other evidence or asserts an affirmative defense it can only be reconciled with a full trial. Sometimes the introduction of prima facie evidence is informally called making a case or building a case.
For example, in a trial under criminal law, the prosecution has the burden of presenting prima facie evidence of each element of the crime charged against the defendant. In a murder case, this would include evidence that the victim was, in fact, dead, that the defendant’s act caused the death, and evidence that the defendant acted with malice aforethought. If no party introduces new evidence the case stands or falls just by the prima facie evidence or lack thereof.
Prima facie evidence need not be conclusive or irrefutable: At this stage, evidence rebutting the case is not considered, only whether any party’s case has enough merit to take it to a full trial [Source: Wikipedia].
A parking ticket “trial” is conducted in person, by mail, or online. A parking ticket warrior is not required to personally appear at a trial. The parking ticket is your adversary. Therefore, if any of the required elements are omitted, misdescribed, or illegible, a parking ticket judge is required to dismiss the parking ticket because the piece of paper failed to successfully show a prima facie case against you (yea!). It’s you versus a piece of paper, and you are not permitted to use a shredder!
Here’s a list of the required elements and elements that are not required
|Exp. Date||NY registered vehicle or when displayed on plate or windshield|
|Plate Type||Yes, when displayed on the plates or registration sticker (NY and some out-of-state vehicles)|
|Body Type||Exact match for NY. “Reasonably accurate” for out-of-state vehicles|
|Reference to Sect. 4-08 of NYC Traffic Rules||Yes|
|Place of Occurrence||Yes|
|VC (“Violation Code”)||No|
|Meter #||Yes for VC33, VC34, VC37|
|Operational||Yes for VC33, VC34, VC37|
|Limit||Yes for VC33, VC34, VC37 (“5Mn” should be inserted for VC37)|
|Date/Time of Offense||Yes|
|Date/Time 1st Observed||Yes for VC33, VC34, VC37|
|Complainant’s Comments||Sometimes. For example, registration #, inspection sticker # for those violations|
Are vehicles registered in New York State treated differently than out-of-state vehicles?
Yes! For example:
- The “body type” for vehicles registered in New York State must be an exact match between the bite-size bit of information entered on the parking ticket, and the data entered on the vehicle registration; while the “body type” for an out-of-state vehicle must only be “reasonably accurate.”
- Another example is “expiration date.” The month-date-year must be entered on a parking ticket for a vehicle registered in NY; while the month-year must be entered on a parking ticket for an out-of-state vehicle only if this data is displayed on the plate or the registration sticker attached to the windshield of the vehicle.
- If the month-year is not displayed on an out-of-state vehicle, a parking ticket warrior is required to enter either “N/S” or “N/A” in the tiny space on the parking ticket.
- A third example is “plate type.” If the plate type is not displayed on the plate or the registration sticker attached to the windshield of a vehicle, it does not have to be entered on a parking ticket. However, “N/S” or “N/A” must be entered in the tiny space on the parking ticket to prove a prima facie case.
An omitted, misdescribed, or illegible required element is parking ticket gold! Required elements are wonderful, tiny, bite-size bits of data that will set you free! Please, I beseech you, always, every time, without fail, check the front of your parking ticket for these tiny gold nuggets. Remember, once you find your “get out of jail free” card, you must present the proper proof, properly to win a dismissal of your parking ticket.
I am sorry to report those parking ticket warriors rarely, if ever, enter the name of the operator of a vehicle (when present behind the wheel), despite a legal requirement to do so. What’s worse is that parking ticket judges would rather have their finger nails pulled off then to dismiss a parking ticket for failure to enter the name of the operator.
If a tiny speck of dirt appears in proximity to the spot where the complainant’s signature is supposed to appear, it’s enough to pass the “signature” test.
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