I got a parking ticket last June for an expired parking meter at the library closest to my house. I’m fighting it–on a technicality. It takes a long time to fight a ticket here and it’s a colossal waste of time. I suppose it’s a colossal waste of money too, but except for the share of my tax bill that goes to supporting the court, it’s not my money. If I have to pay the fine, of course, it will be my money. They could, if they wanted to, make it take less time and cost less money, but I suspect a lot of people pay unjust and/or invalid tickets rather than going through the process because it takes too long and costs them missed time from work to boot.
It just occurred to me that if they posted a list of what various infractions cost, they might get even more people to choose saving time over saving money.
I was able to plead not guilty by mail, but one indication of how long it takes is the calendar call was this morning. June, July, August, September. See what I mean? By the time this landmark case is adjudicated, I’ll certainly have to decide what I want for my birthday and for Christmas and, who knows, I might even die by then! If I win and if I could do a cost-benefit analysis, it might be a Pyrrhic victory, but I don’t have anything better to do and I do feel like being pedantic. I almost always feel like being pedantic though, so that’s nothing new.
This ticket was issued literally behind my back. I went to the library to talk to someone who works there. When I arrived, he was standing in the parking lot. I parked the truck in a stall, got out and talked him for about three minutes, maybe four. I was going to say I leapt out of the truck, but I don’t want to exaggerate here. While I was standing maybe three parking spaces away from the truck, the parking agent came by and left me a ticket.
I know it’s hard to judge intent, but for all she knew, I might have been asking my friend for change. Even if I went inside to get change, I would have gotten a ticket by the time I came back out to feed the meter.
One thing I hate about parking meters where I live is that they still require coins. There are places where the parking meters take paper money and even credit cards. Every night when I empty my pockets, I put my change in a jar on my dresser. I’m sure a lot of people do that. Right now, I have over $100 in that jar. I don’t like the weight of the coins in my pocket and it takes longer to dig change out of my pocket than it does to get change from a cash register. I suppose I could dig the change out when I was waiting to pay, but I live in New York, where the sales-tax rate was apparently chosen to make the tax due impossible for a taxpayer to calculate in his or her head.
The court already knew I plead not guilty, so I thought I could take care of this today. Wrong! The attorney representing the municipality called my name and asked me what I wanted to do. I said I wanted the ticket dismissed because it was defective on its face (I have lawyers in the family). The ticket was issued to a Suburban; I have a truck. Everywhere in the country, a Suburban is a hulking, enormous passenger vehicle from Chevrolet. In New York, it is also a class of vehicles characterized by seats or removable seats (fold-down seats count too) in the rear. All station wagons used to be registered as Suburban in New York, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a vehicle with Suburban plates on it. No seats, no place to install seats, so I have a truck. I also have a DMV title and a picture that show it’s a truck. I showed them to the municipal lawyer.
All that the attorney said was he would schedule me for a trial. I’ll get a letter. Based on the time between the ticket and the calendar call, notice of my trial date may come in the form of a Christmas card. Will my ploy work? Who knows, but it’s like I said: I don’t have anything better to do and I do feel like being pedantic.