A CBS investigation has revealed that parking tickets stemming from 85% of the parking meters in Philadelphia are invalid. Pennsylvania law requires inspectors to certify each parking meter for accuracy once every three years, but the single inspector working for Philly’s Licenses and Inspections Department, the city agency in change of certification, has visited less than 15% of all parking meters—but he has found the time to certify some meters 8 times while others go completely unchecked. As a result, thousands of parking tickets are invalid under state law.
“Has your department tested every parking meter in the city within the past three years?” I asked Deputy Commissioner Dominic Verdi. “No,” he replied. So how many have they inspected? The Deputy Commissioner wasn’t clear, saying “The exact number I don’t have in front of me.”
But we know, after 3 On Your Side reviewed the inspection reports ourselves. Out of 14,500 meters, only around 2,000 have been tested and certified for timing from 2005 through 2007, that is less than 15 percent!
Verdi blames lack of man power, L&I only has one inspector assigned to that job.
“There is no way possible for us to handle all of those meters,” said Verdi.
But when we checked, we found some meters were being checked time and time again! A meter on South 9th Street was tested at 11 a.m. one morning and approved, then hours later it was tested again, and approved again!
When I asked Verdi if the inspector was clueless, he just shrugged.
Then there is the situation we found on Ridge Avenue, a meter was tested and approved eight times last year, and it happened in other places too!
Parking tickets can be defective for a number of reasons. In New York, every ticket must have five items: the license plate number, plate type, the exact registration expiration date, vehicle make or model, and the vehicle body type.
Our town—which is full of parking ticket sticklers and has this suburban cowboy ticket inspector guy who revels in ticketing parents who dash into stores while their kids wait in the car—was caught issuing tickets that listed only the month and year of a registration’s expiration, not the exact day. As a result, the town’s tickets were invalid. The townspeople celebrated and the suburban cowboy cried. True story.
Anyway, if you live in Philadelphia and have an outstanding parking ticket, click on this link (PDF) to see if the meter was properly certified. If it wasn’t, the ticket is not legally enforceable and will be tossed out by any law-abiding judge.
If only this applied to New York City’s $150 parking tickets…