Personal Lives

Chicago Parking Ticket a Tough Case

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Chicago has a reputation for being overly aggressive about ticketing unwary motorists for dubious parking infractions, especially downtown.

Plus, for the relative few who contest parking tickets, either by mail or in person, there is “a widespread perception that the system is tilted to maximize the haul,” writes the Chicago Tribune. And it isn’t just the legally unsophisticated who have trouble spotting signs that allegedly notify motorists of no-parking zones, or winning a courtroom case over a seemingly unfair ticket–municipal parking enforcement strikes fear into the hearts of seasoned practitioners, too.

“Even when you are parking legally, you just can’t park downtown,” says David Gorodess, an attorney. “I am going to have to rent a space at a garage, because I’m afraid to park anywhere.” According to Gorodess, he was ticketed recently for parking in a space where the closest sign prohibited doing so between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. He didn’t park there then, but was ticketed–and towed–anyway, he says.

City officials insist that the system is fair, and point out that more than half of the 275,000 annual appeals of non-moving violations are won by motorists. The Trib article suggests, however, that many motorists don’t even attempt to fight city hall, which raked in more than $200 million in traffic-related fines and fees in 2006.

One who didn’t: Heather Thome, 35, a temp worker. Arriving at her car to find a police officer ticketing her for parking illegally between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., she asked him where the sign was. “He said there used to be a sign on ‘that’ pole, and it hadn’t been there for two years,” she recounts.

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