Fighting a parking ticket is much harder than fighting bedbugs
[Larry’s note: We invited a talented friend of ours to talk about the trials and tribulations fighting a parking ticket for his commercial enterprise. Josh Alpert, President of Green Earth Pest Control, has 2 exterminator vehicles operating full-time in Manhattan, 6 days a week. Lately, Green Earth Pest Control has been receiving about 5-8 parking tickets a week]. Without further adieu, here’s Josh…
Running an exterminating service business in New York City, also known as Manhattan, definitely has its ups and downs. Almost any service business can rely on the fact that there is a constant flow of commerce and a high demand for quality service. So being out there, providing excellent service and actively pursuing customers are definitely going to definitely grow your business and the size of your vehicle fleet.
Besides commerce, great food, extraordinary people, the New York Yankees winning world series, being stuck in traffic, gas prices going up, Bed Bugs, Rats & Cockroaches, one thing that anyone running a service business in New York City can always count on running into is a New York City parking ticket.
A parking ticket is supposed to be issued when a motorist violates an NYC parking rule. I emphasize on the supposed to, because there are many unwarranted parking tickets issued, all day, every single day, by the New York Police Department (NYPD). You must be wondering how this is possible and frankly unless you become a victim of this parking ticket nonsense, you truly may never realize how much is involved to fight a parking ticket, that you should have never been issued in the first place.
Most common parking violations
Our most common parking violations that we receive are for parking in no parking anytime zones, no parking during street cleaning, double parking (illegal in midtown) parking in no standing loading and unloading zones and expired muni-meter (replaced standard coin-operated meters) tickets. It is our understanding that NYC parking law allows commercial vehicles to park in these situations, for a specified amount of time, making our parking completely legal, providing we do not go over the time limit, which is usually 30 minutes.
The question here is that if we are legally parking then why are we receiving parking violations? I will tell you why. Between the police and the traffic agents that are issuing these violations, the majority of them do not care to take the time to ensure that the tickets that they are issuing are righteous or not.
Their attitude is that the commercial vehicle can beat the ticket, so I will write the ticket, to fill my daily quota, required by my NYPD bosses. This obviously would make anyone angry, but there is nothing we can do, but prove our point to a New York City Department of Finance (NYC DOF) judge.
Until recently, one’s options for fighting a parking ticket was to either go down to court and prove your case to the judge or to mail in evidence directly to the NYC DOF. My company is busy servicing our customers, so we do not have time to go down in person, so we place our case in the mail and trust that it will be delivered safe, sound and securely, by the United States Post Office (USPS) and pray that upon its successful delivery, that the NYC DOF does not lose our paperwork.
Before we mail in our plea, we must prepare our case. We have to prove that we were providing an expeditious service call at the time we received the parking violation. We do this by providing a copy of the service order and sending a letter explaining why we should be found not guilty. We fought so many parking tickets, that we actually have templates for these letters and all we have to change is the date and violation number on it.
Pathetic, huh? Sometimes the situation is more complex and we have to prove that we have a marked commercial vehicle. We prove this by sending in pictures of the license plates and markings on both sides of the vehicle, along with a copy of the vehicle registration. What if the officer who writes the parking ticket documents the time incorrectly?
This could be complicated! Not only do we have to provide documentation of when we were providing the service, but the driver also needs to send in a notarized letter attesting to the vehicle’s location at the time of the violation. Sometimes it is even necessary to pull EZ-Pass tolls records or some other type of receipt to prove our case.
WHEWWWWW! Here is the best one of all.
What do you do if the officer wrote you a ticket for parking in an intersection (yeah right, as if anyone is dumb enough to park in an intersection), when he was supposed to write a ticket for an expired meter? Good luck on proving your case with that one! We had that happen once and were lucky enough to beat it because the officer timed the violation for 12:34 AM, when it was really 12:34 PM. It’s a good thing we had toll records that our vehicle was in another state at the time.
Otherwise, we would surely have been paying that ticket. No matter what your defense is, preparing the violation takes away valuable time from your business and is just completely unnecessary. The worst part is that the average judge takes less than a minute to review your evidence and doesn’t always rule in your favor, even though you did not break the law in the first place.
So you are probably wondering why the NYC DOF doesn’t just let you fight your ticket online.
Until Recently, NYC DOF did allow you to fight your parking ticket online, but they did not allow you to upload any evidence with your plea. That obviously served no purpose, since the majority of parking tickets cannot be judged fairly, without the submission of evidence. Finally and recently, the NYC DOF has decided to join the 21st century and have finally allowed motorists to not only fight their parking ticket online but to upload their evidence so that one can avoid having to go down to see the judge in person or having to go through the hassle of mailing it in. Is this process for everyone? Definitely not, but for those who are computer savvy, have a scanner and understand the Internet, this may be for you.
With a pile of parking tickets on my desk, I tried out the NYC DOF online parking ticket evidence submittal yesterday.
New Process to fight your parking tickets online
You request a hearing, give up your rights to a reduction (if you plead guilty, the NYC DOF discounts the parking ticket, giving you an incentive to pay it, instead of fighting it), give your reason why you should be found not guilty and then your request for a hearing is sent. From there you receive a confirmation email that your request for a hearing has been submitted, with a link at the bottom that says, if you have not already submitted evidence then please click here.
This is confirmation that your hearing request has been submitted to the NYC Department of Finance. Please save this information in case you have questions about the hearing request you submitted.
Request Submission Date: 04/19/2011 01:16 PM
Name: Josh Alpert Green Earth Pest Control
Address: 116 W 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your hearing request was for the following item(s):
Your statement as to why you believe the violation should be dismissed:
We are a commercial business, with a commercial vehicle. We were providing an expeditious service at the time we received the parking violation. Around 25 minutes into the job, we came out to see if there was any other parking, but there wasn’t, so we continued to park at the same spot for about another 20-30 minutes.
Thank you for using New York City’s website to submit your hearing request. Please do not reply to this email. You may contact us by visiting http://nycserv.nyc.gov/NYCServWeb/ContactUs.html if you have questions or need further assistance.
If you have not already uploaded your evidence online for this violation and you would like to submit evidence at this time please click on the link below. You may also copy and paste the link into your web browser.
After you send the request for a hearing, you are redirected to a different portion of the website to submit evidence. You can submit evidence through image and pdf files. When you submit the evidence, you get a confirmation on the actual web page, but not an email confirming that you submitted the evidence. You do not get to see first hand that your hearing request and the evidence uploaded have been linked together. The only thing that appears to link the request for a hearing to your evidence submittal, is the parking violation number. So basically, you can only hope and pray that they are linked together.
This is definitely something that the NYC DOF needs to fix on their end. Or maybe it is just another way to confuse people into losing their cases. I will let you know what happens when the results come in. In the meantime, I sit here in suspense, wondering if what I did worked or not and praying that the number of parking tickets we get subsides.
Have you tried to fight your parking tickets online? What’s your experience? Please share.