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Feel That Parking Ticket Is Unfair? D.C. Bill Would Ease Appeals Process

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Appealing a parking ticket in D.C. can be a time-consuming process, but a new bill would speed it up.
Kipp Baker: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrpixure/3135421163/
Appealing a parking ticket in D.C. can be a time-consuming process, but a new bill would speed it up.

On a busy street in downtown D.C., Olu Oladugba scores a valuable parking spot. She breaks out her credit card as she gets ready to feed the meter. There's plenty of things that annoy her about parking — among them the search for an open spot — but there's one thing that really make her blood boil.

"You have pay-by-phone parking... and they can't tell on the machines, so they automatically give you a ticket even though you paid on the phone," she says. "I just pay [the tickets]. To challenge them is another problem in its own."

Oladugba isn't alone. Critics say the process for appealing tickets is unfair and needlessly long. If you challenge your ticket and lose, you can appeal the decision — but there is a two-year backlog. And to the dismay of many drivers, the city doesn't have to explain why your challenge was denied, making a potential appeal for a re-hearing nearly impossible.

But tomorrow the D.C. Council will vote on a bill that could change this. The measure up for consideration would ensure that if you request a rehearing for a parking ticket challenge, you will get it in 30 days or less. Currently, it can take close to six months.

And when the city denies the ticket, it would have to explain why, making it easier to appeal.

"This is to enable people who want to challenge it and they lose — sometimes they don't even know why they lost — now they are going to have to be told why and they will have a hearing in 30 days," explains Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), who introduced the bill.

Cheh says while it may only be a small number of tickets that are in question, it's important for the city to get them right all of the time.

"I have heard some horror stories, it's like a nightmare, they get in this bureaucratic loop and they can't get out: It's not my car, I wasn't there, and I have this," she says. "Our aim should be to get it right all the time, and if we don't get it right we should dismiss the ticket."

According to the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, of the 1,772,756 parking tickets issued in 2013, there were 156,178 requests for adjudication. It took 157 days for examiners to issue final rulings on the tickets, and another 22 months if the ticket was appealed further.

Cheh says there are other amendments to the bill that will — overall — make it easier to dismiss bad tickets.

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