Posted by: Captain Easychord | June 1, 2009

DC Parking Peril

It was just a matter of time, but inevitably a need to express the healthy amount of loathing that I have for DC parking enforcement would be what brings me back to writing in this space. Sure enough, under DC’s draconian parking enforcement regime, it was just last week when the powers that be gave me the fodder for a shiny new blog post.

It was Wednesday morning and my car was parked on a street with a Wednesday street cleaning.  I was running late and saw that the street sweeper had *just* gone past my car.  Since DC recently equipped its street sweepers with cameras to identify parking violations, I knew I already had a ticket in the mail.   At this point, I kicked myself, but I also figured the damage was already done, right? Right…

Thursday afternoon – about 30 hours later – I went back to take my car for its annual DC inspection… and that’s where the fun begins. You see, when I went back to retrieve my car… it wasn’t there.

Now, it should be noted that DC also occasionally tows cars that have been ticketed.  Cars aren’t towed as a punitive measure… they’re simply towed so that the street can be clear for whatever purpose originally prompted the parking restriction.  Cars aren’t even towed to an impound lot – they’re towed to available nearby street parking.  However, I had never seen a car towed in my neighborhood for a street cleaning violation and since the street sweeper had already come by, what would be the point?

I ran back up to my apartment and checked the DC DMV’s website, and it told me that my car had not been towed.  Ugh…  Now I’m wondering which is more likely:  that my car was stolen or that the DMV is wrong.  Despite the prevalence of car theft problems in my area, DMV screwups are much more frequent.  I called the phone number on the website… and that’s when I found out that my car was, in fact, towed to a spot about five blocks from my apartment… ugh.

So I hurry over to my car, still hoping to make my inspection appointment.  When I get there, I find two tickets.  One was the expected parking ticket for the Wednesday street cleaning violation.  The other was a second street cleaning violation… issued on Thursday… at a location three blocks away.  Which is to say that my car wasn’t just towed once, but that it was actually moved to a place where I would get a second parking ticket (less than 24 hours after the first) and then moved again!  (and neither was in the DMV’s computer system yet)

But wait… there’s more!  The tickets that were on my windshield were written by a parking enforcement officer.   A week or so later, I receive two additional parking tickets, courtesy of the street sweepers!  They’re basically identical to the two tickets that were on my car, only issued a few minutes earlier or later.  So because I was running late one morning, a simple street cleaning violation (unpleasant, but acceptable) managed to balloon into a series of tickets costing me quadruple the “bargained” price… and all because DC wants to fill a budget hole.

And for the cherry on top, I had to get my car inspected the next morning, when I found out that having an appointment did little to actually save me time over the folks with no appointment… and confirmed my memory that when DC inspects your car, they don’t actually bother to look under the hood of your car!  How exactly is that an inspection?!?  But that’s a whole ‘nother matter…

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