County Ticketing Cars For Lapsed Inspections While They Are At Garage To Be Inspected



Talk about low-hanging fruit… If you’re on the hunt for cars that have lapsed inspection stickers, where are you most likely to find them? Probably outside of garages that perform inspections. Garage operators in one Virginia county say they are being unfairly hassled by a zealous parking enforcement officer — to the point where one mechanic was arrested for allegedly assaulting the ticket-giver.

The Washington Post has the story of garage operators who work in a business park in Fairfax County, VA, not far from D.C., and who say that the county has been coming onto private property for years to issue citations for vehicles with lapsed inspections when those vehicles were there to be inspected.

On operator says his customers have been hit with around $60,000 in fines since 2009. Some of the garages choose to pay for the tickets themselves because they don’t want to lose the long-term business of the customers.

“I don’t want to give them a bill for repairs and add on $50 for a ticket,” explains one local businessman, who says he’s paid $2,200 in tickets in a single month. “You think they’ll come back?”

He explains that he now tries to do all inspection work first thing in the morning to lessen the chances of a car being ticketed, but since not every car passes the inspection or emissions test, it has to be put off to the side while it’s waiting for repair; thus putting it at risk for a ticket.

Things have gotten so bad, say the mechanics, that when they hear of a parking enforcement agent on the campus’s grounds there’s a scramble to hide all the past-inspection vehicles indoors. While that’s happening, no work is getting done on other cars.

When one operator snatched a ticket from the hand of an enforcement officer in 2014, he was eventually charged with felony assault of a police officer — even though the woman in this case is not a cop. A judge sentenced him to four days in jail, but on appeal a jury acquitted him of the charges.

So why are enforcement officers patrolling the lots and streets of a private business campus? The county says back in 2009, the park’s management firm granted county police permission to enforce local traffic, parking and towing ordinances.

“Why aren’t they barking up their property manager’s tree?” a county police rep asks the Post. “That is their business. Without that letter, we have no authority — none — to be in that parking lot.”

But the attorney for the mechanic charged with assault argues that just because the county can issue parking tickets in the business park doesn’t mean they have to ticket cars that aren’t illegally parked and are awaiting inspection.

“There’s no law against using common sense,” he contends.

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