Hero Or Fool: Man Pays $200 To Appeal $26 Parking Ticket

Here in Philadelphia, parking tickets tend to appear out of nowhere, the Parking Authority’s army of ninja ticket-writers leaving their citations in silence. Many people just fork over the cash, even when the violation is bogus. But not one man, who was willing to spend money to prove his point.

This case goes back to the summer of 2011, when the driver had parked his car in the city’s Manayunk section while attending a local arts festival with his wife. The spot they found was listed as one-hour parking, so they returned in about 55 minutes to move their vehicle.

After circling the block a few times, they found a spot on that same street where they had just been parked. In fact, the parking space they took had just been vacated by a Parking Authority vehicle.

And yet, only 15 minutes later, there was a $26 ticket waiting for him.

But rather than simply pay the ticket in order to avoid having to navigate the Parking Authority bureaucracy, this driver decided to fight for his cause.

He tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that he first tried to speak to the officer who issued the ticket, to no avail.

Subsequent in-person appeals only resulted in admonitions straight out of Mad Libs, with Authority examiners telling him he should have produced receipts for gas or restaurant visits that day, none of which has any bearing on where he was parked.

And so the only option remaining for the driver was to take his case to the Court of Common Pleas, where he’d have to pay around $200 in non-refundable fees to get his case heard.

He would have paid even more if he hadn’t been hooked up with a former state and federal prosecutor who took the case pro bono.

And so earlier this month, the driver and his attorney appeared in court and the judge quickly vacated the violation.

The Parking Authority had tried to argue that “one-hour parking” means the driver can park on that particular street for only one hour, so driving around for 15-20 minutes and finding a different spot on the same street does not count.

“[O]ur point was, ‘Well, does that mean one hour per day, one hour per week, one hour per lifetime?'” explains the driver’s lawyer.

Looking through the city’s Traffic Code, we could find nothing that backs up the Parking Authority’s position. If we missed it (which is possible), feel free to let us know.

Regardless, the driver says that since the Parking Authority failed to give his case a proper review during the appeals process, he now intends to get the $200 he had to spend on getting a judge to listen to reason.

I think my appeal filing fee should be returned, but the more important goal is to have the PPA reform its practices,” he explains. “The PPA should make all parking regulations clearly known to the public, and due process should be not punitive.”