Parking Ticket Troubles: “This is just profiteering and absolutely unnecessary”

parking tickets
Photo by PoPville flickr user Mike Maguire

One reader reports:

“Today 3 of my friends and I received tickets in Eckington at 2 am. All parking. I got a registration ticket and my friend got caught too close to the alleyway. They seem to be cracking down on the area.”

Another reader writes:

“I was parked around 4:50 on the 4000 block of Marlboro Pl, NW. As I am sure you know this is a one way, one block street with residents parking out front of their homes daily. 75% of the block has no parking signs from 7am-7pm for gas line work. According to multiple neighbors on the block there has been no workmen out to the property in almost a week. That being said an MPD officer from 4D showed up at 5pm to ticket all of those parked on the block. When I questioned why he was ticketing people this late in the day when there were no Washington Gas trucks to be found he responded, “Well the sign is there, right?” This is just profiteering and absolutely unneccesary. There were only about four cars parked on the block and I am guessing neighbors just getting home from work.

This is as bad as ticketing at 11:25am when street cleaning ends at 11:30am and the street cleaner came through an hour earlier which happens weekly near Dupont Circle.

The tickets he was giving out were for EMERGENCY NO PARKING at $50/each. I know because I got one. I plan on fighting the ticket to just have someone hear me out.”

68 Comment

  • To be fair, giving you a ticket for parking in an area where you are prohibited from parking for the next two hours is not the same as giving you a ticket for parking in an area where you are prohibited from parking for the next 5 minutes. Both are justifiable because you are violating parking restrictions. But a ticket with 5 minutes left is a dick move. A ticket with 2 hours left is more understandable.

    • A dick move? I mean, even if it’s 1 minute left, they’re just doing their job. You will probably get away with it, but you can’t be mad that you didn’t.

    • As someone who works in construction, I can say that it is extraordinarily expensive and frustrating when residents do not heed the emergency no parking signs. Your car can cause a delay to work that has a very real impact on budgets. Many construction companies in the District are small – having to deal with neighbors who don’t heed signage drives up the cost of construction and repair work for every single person/project in the District – it’s one of the reasons that construction is so expensive here. Just because you don’t see anyone there in the moment that you are parking your car, that doesn’t mean there won’t be trucks there five minutes later. And, by the way, construction companies do pay DDOT to reserve those parking spots – the fees are often in the thousands of $$ – and they have every right to use them in the proscribed period. The law exists for a reason; thank you for the notification to the community that DC does enforce it.

      • Yup. We just had city-contractor repaving trucks give up and leave because of all the violating cars. We’d been waiting for the repaving for months, and who knows when they’ll be back???

  • I could be missing something, but I think it’s the police officer’s job to enforce the parking, even if there are no trucks to be found on the street. I might take it up with the gas company.

    • Try telling him that on a Sunday morning!

    • I thought cars parked along emergency no parking signs, in general, weren’t ticketed unless the originator of the signs requested it. That most certainly is the practice in our neighborhood, fwiw.

      • This is true. It was like pulling teeth trying to get parking enforcement to ticket the cars that parked in my “Emergency No Parking” signs that last few times I moved in DC.

      • Anonomnom

        Definitely just depends on the neighborhood. I live in Woodly Park, and they ticketed when I had signs up (twice) this year for moving truck and a storage pod with no request on my part.

  • You know how to stop their profiteering? Don’t park illegally.

  • I must be missing some key detail in this story. There is a temporary No Parking sign that is active until 7PM. The sign was visible and you were aware of it. You parked there at 5PM and got a ticket. Why are you mad at the parking cop?

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get started with the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments at finding myself in the position of defending this city’s parking police. ugh

  • Dear Popville,
    Rules were applied fairly and to everyone. I didn’t get a special break that I think I deserve. Please everyone agree that my tantrum is justified.

  • Everybody hates getting parking tickets. Everybody loves it when someone else gets schooled on the parking rules. Everybody wants plenty of free parking in their own neighborhood, preferably right in front of their homes. Everybody wants easy access to parking whatever their destination. Everybody wants residential parking passes to keep non-residents from taking their parking spaces. Everybody is in favor of residential density (in theory) but everybody is against residential density (in fact) when it threatens their parking rights.
    Everything is about parking in America’s car culture, is what I’m saying.

  • Blithe

    The second post, on a good day, could well turn out to be a classic. Textbook entitlement? Narcissistic rage? I hope the OP comes back to report on how the plan to fight the clearly justified ticket turns out. smh

  • Imagine if you were moving and someone parked in your reserved, legally blocked off parking two hours before the time was supposed to end. Wouldn’t you be irritated? Why is this any different?

    • That’s what upsets me. I’ve had to move a few times while living in DC and nobody respects the “Emergency No Parking” signs. I always have to call 311 to ticket someone that’s parked in my moving truck spot. The excuse “there wasn’t a moving truck” doesn’t fly with me. I paid for the permit from 7am to 7pm. Maybe I’m running a bit late from picking up my U-Haul or maybe I’m making two trips. Moving is already stressful, especially if you have a two hour hold on an elevator in an apartment building. Dealing with stuff like this is pretty annoying.

    • This raises a good point. The OP assumes he knows who paid for and posted the signs. He’s probably right that it is the gas company. BUT, he can’t be certain. It might be someone moving who isn’t there yet to park their moving truck. And now you’ve taken their spot because you assumed incorrectly that at 5pm, the person was no longer entitled to the spot they paid for. Probably not the case here, but that isn’t really for your to conclude and decide on your own. If we all did, parking rules would end up being more suggestions and we’d all hate dealing with it more than we do. Welcome to living in a civilized society where we obey rules or are punished for failure to obey them.

      • Exactly. Not only can the OP not tell who/why the signs are there, but the officer can’t tell – and it’s not the officer’s job to know. That’s why there’s a time span on the signs – a time span the OP ignored, and then for some reason got upset about.
        WT serious F.

      • I agree with your points, but the sign always has the name of the requester (usually with a phone number), just FYI

  • I don’t understand this at all. It’s not profiteering, the people who issue tickets shouldn’t be asked to make judgement calls about who *really deserves* the parking ticket and who can be excused for xyz excuse even though they are in conflict with the posted signs. Asking the ticketing officers to exercise “discretion” when applying very clear parking regulations opens up a big opportunity for corruption.

    I don’t know the date of the Marlboro Pl complaint, but I live very close to there and I know that there were two Washington Gas trucks present when I returned home last night (I don’t remember the exact time, probably 6:30 or so), one of which had a trailer behind it with a piece of construction equipment. They didn’t leave until 8 pm or later.

    The one with the trailer was not however parked on Marlboro, perhaps because illegally parked cars were preventing it from using the space. Instead it parked in front the only fire hydrant in the immediate area on Shepherd, which I doubt is a preferable alternative.

  • Accountering

    I don’t think you understand what profiteering means:

    gerund or present participle: profiteering
    make or seek to make an excessive or unfair profit, especially illegally or in a black market.

  • This must be a test, like the SAT, only pretty easy if you can do simple math/tell time.

  • I think the bigger issue is the city’s use of reserved parking, which blocks off parking for 12 hours instead of the perhaps 1-2 hours that the person actually may be using it. This is especially frustrating in neighborhoods where the street parking at night is already at its capacity, there’s no pay parking, and having the restriction going into effect at that 7am mark means sprinting to move your car in the AM before work. It seems like a better solution is restricting parking during non-peak neighborhood parking times (when people are less likely to be home), but also reducing the number of hours in which parking is allowed to be blocked off. I myself narrowly missed a ticket yesterday, and while I 100% deserved it because I was parked illegally in a reserved spot, I think there’s a better way for the city to handle the moving trucks and road work.

    • justinbc

      “sprinting to move your car in the AM before work”
      Or just don’t park in that spot the night before if it’s going to cause some undue duress to you in the morning.

      • Admo_Anon: “I consider these parking restrictions are frustrating.”


        • If the parking restrictions cause you to move, maybe it’s a sign that you’re the problem. The parking restrictions only restrict you if you’re parking out of your neighborhood. Register your car at your residence and it won’t be a problem.

          • I think this person is speaking about the reserved no parking signs people pay for for moving and such. They apply to everyone except the person who paid for the signs for the relevant time period.

          • “parking restrictions only restrict you if you’re parking out of your neighborhood”

            yeah, that’s just not accurate whatsoever.

        • justinbc

          Lots of laws are frustrating. They aren’t all put in place to make our lives easier.

    • I don’t think it’s possible for Pepco/Washington Gas/WASA/other city service to narrow things down that accurately. They don’t know exactly how long each job will take, etc. If they had to schedule a narrow window they had to make, they would get way less projects done each day, at higher expense.

  • No parking is no parking for a reason. Don’t park there. It’s not up to parking enforcement to decide which parking violations are important and which are deserving of special breaks. Make it easy for everyone and just park legally.
    By complaining about justly issued parking tickets you’re also making it harder for MPD/DPW to enforce regulations and giving credence to commuters and bar goers from MD and VA who would take our parking for themselves, as well as people who park on bike lanes, double park, etc.. You’re making things worse for everyone.

  • ah

    BTW, the first PoP sender has a point – 2am ticketing is a bit of a dick move, although if you’re truly blocking an alley you should be towed too.

    • They do nighttime registration sweeps in the dense areas about once a month, which seems totally fair. Otherwise out of towners might never register their cars.
      “Too close to the alley” probably does not mean blocking the alley, but too close to the edge. This is legitimately dangerous because when you are driving out of the alley you can’t see if cars are coming down the street.

      • ah

        I have a garage on alley, and rule is 5′. It’s not a visibility issue (because 5′ or 3′ you still have issues), it’s an ability to turn issue). And, yeah, it annoys me if someone parks a bit too close for just that reason. But given when I’ve called in the middle of a weekend and been told “we don’t enforce on weekend”, it seems like a dick move to be trolling around a neighborhood at 2am looking for such offenses and smacks of trying to hit a quote.

        Not sure if regisration ticket means ROSA or expired. If it’s expired, then 2am? Can’t this person be caught during the day?

        • Sorry, I should have been more precise. The do specific nighttime ROSA duty. They ticket other stuff while they’re out, but I’m pretty sure those shifts are specifically looking for ROSA violations.
          This has to happen at night. A lot of people who don’t register their cars use them to commute. Plus if the car is not registered in DC zone restrictions would obviously prevent it from being parked on the street during the day.

    • Why is it a dick move? Just because you *think* the parking patrol won’t be out in the wee hours of the morning doesn’t give you the right to bitch when they actually are. It’s not as if there was a time you can legally park too close to an alley entrance or can legally be parked with an expired registration, those are in force 24/7. Time of day of the violation is irrelevant. This person was using their expectations of the hours of operation for MPD ticketing crews and it bit them in the ass.

    • It’s a dick move until someone gets t-boned pulling out in front of a car they couldn’t see coming down the street, even at 2:30am.

    • It’s not a dick move. A lot of people never switch their tags over to DC after moving. A lot of commercial vehicles park on residential streets (which there are restrictions against). A lot of people drive on expired registration and inspection stickers. This is the best time of day to flag those violations. The real “dick move” are the people with out of state tags, expired stickers, etc who get away with doing the wrong thing and then want to complain when they get caught.

  • I got a ticket downtown issued at 4pm on the money for a no parking 4pm and after sign. I arrived at 4:01. What kills me is that there is no way the meter maid could have written the ticket at 4pm. She had it all ready to go well before 4pm and was just sitting there waiting for the clock to turn over.

    It was mean-spirited and profiteering.

    • Accountering

      It was a meter-maid, doing her job. You broke the rule and got caught. I have sympathy for parking tickets that are incorrectly written, but it sounds like you just don’t like that the city operates on hard-line basis. What would you have proposed, that she just leave you be? Should she wait another 5 minutes?

    • No it wasn’t. If there’s a 4pm deadline to clear the street, the remaining cars stick out like a sore thumb. I wasn’t aware that the parking enforcement officer was supposed to give you some kind of grace period, nor was their supervisor. 4pm deadline means you move your car at 3:50 or 3:55, not 4:01.

    • I once got a ticket at 4:01 on Wisconsin Ave in the same circumstance. Did he care that I showed up at 4:02 and literally watched him put the ticket on my window from across the street with a baby on my hip? Nope. Did it piss me off? Yup. But you know what, he was doing his job. If my car needed to be towed (which there is now doubt it would have been due to rush hour restrictions), it would need to be ticketed first. You know what would have also pissed me off as a motorist? Being stuck in traffic because someone was parked in what was supposed to be a driving lane.

      • Accountering

        Bingo. Its a risk you take, and the thing with taking a risk, is sometimes it bites you in the butt. I hate sitting on 16th st because some guy didn’t move his car. Invariable, he did get ticketed though.

      • As someone who sees people pull up and park at 9:20am when they cannot until 9:30am, causing my bus to sit in even heavier traffic to get around that parked car at 9:21am, I have no sympathy for anyone illegally parking in rush hour zones. It happens nearly every day and of course never a cop nearby to ticket the person idling in their car for 10 minutes until they can get out and walk away.

    • Late is late. It’s not her job to know or care if you were planning on being back at 4:01 or 5:01. Doesn’t matter. I once got a ticket on my car parked in DC at 10:30 PM for having expired VA tags and then another one at 7 AM the next morning by a different person who saw the initial ticket still on my car. THAT is mean spirited and profiteering, because since the DMV was closed at 7 there was no expectation that I could have gotten the problem fixed. But again, my pity party didnt have many people because I was in violation and when you do bad things, bad things are likely to happen.

    • To echo everyone else, you’re nuts. First, late is late, it’s neither mean-spirited or a dick move. Second, a ticket has to be given before a car is towed. The ticket officer has no way of knowing when or if you were coming back, and so she waited to give the ticket at the earliest possible moment so the car could be towed ASAP, thus letting rush hour proceed smoothly (or as smoothly as possible). It’s unfortunate there isn’t a mechanism whereby your fine could be doubled for whining.

    • She gave you a ticket at 4 so your car could be towed ASAP, because it was blocking a rush hour lane. It’s neither mean-spirited nor profiteering, just good traffic management.

  • 1030 is 1030, not 1025.
    Too close to the alley is too close.

    Stops signs are still in effect at 3AM no matter whether there is traffic on the street.
    Red lights are never ‘just a little bit’ red.
    Speed limits are in effect 24 hours a day.
    One way streets are one way all the time.

    This is how things are (unless otherwise noted.) If you choose to ignore reality, you take your chances. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t.

    But, good luck contesting – maybe you’ll get a sympathetic judge and if you do, congratulations.

  • I’m not sure anything makes people as whiny and entitled as street parking. We should just slowly phase out street parking in denser neighborhoods altogether, since it’s clearly too much hassle to manage effectively and nobody appreciates the efforts to do so.

  • For those of you saying that enforcement officers are being dicks or are profiteering by issuing tickets at 4:01pm or in the middle of the night, may I suggest that you write the city council asking them to amend DCMR with language that specifically prohibits dick moves. That way parking enforcement would have grey areas and then everyone could weasel their way out of tickets.

    • “I suggest that you write the city council asking them to amend DCMR with language that specifically prohibits dick moves”
      Amazing. This is the response about 70% of popville complaints about parking and traffic enforcement deserve.

  • jim_ed

    I do wonder if there’s an increase in enforcement for parking recently after reading this. Last Friday I woke up to find a ticket for $50 for an expired inspection written at 2:45 am on my car parked on my unremarkable residential street. I wasn’t all that mad since my inspection was up, but it just seemed odd that a cop would be looking over that kinda stuff at that time.

  • Can’t stand this attitude of “well, I didn’t see a good reason for the clearly posted sign so I ignored it.” I had this happen when I moved last time, people just parked in the spot — despite the clearly labeled sign — and then when I pulled up in my moving truck one person said “oh, well, I didn’t see any reason for the sign.” The reason for the sign is 1) I paid for it so that 2) the spot would be available when I arrived with my moving truck. People that assume these signs are irrelevant are the worst and absolutely deserve the tickets. If they tell parking enforcement that they saw the sign but felt like they should have the right to overrule it they should get an extra $100 ticket.

  • jburka

    District Pro Tip: if the sign says don’t park, DON’T PARK. It’s not a 100% guarantee you won’t get ticketed, but it comes pretty damned close. And in those slims odds that you do get an improper ticket, you’ve got a good shot at fighting it.

    I’ve gotten two parking tickets in the district in the past 30 years. Both times I was illegally parked. I got a third parking ticket for being in the wrong zone on a zones 1/2 side of the block and successfully contested it with a simple photo of the sign and my RPP.

    Which is to say I have no sympathy.

  • I’m going to run counter to some of the prevailing sentiment here after first stipulating a few things.

    Yes, the sign said don’t park until 7 pm and the OP parked there earlier. What he/she did is against the rules and the ticket is merited.

    It’s still pretty frustrating when signs go up for restricted parking for X kind of work (gas lines, water mains, road repairs) and the work isn’t done during that time. I think that the signs have a fairly wide range of dates because work schedules have to be flexible – DC water might get hung up on a job in the queue and they need the flexibility to show up as soon as possible. From the resident/parker perspective, though, it’s annoying to be prevented from parking somewhere when the reason given for the restriction isn’t honored.

    The OP could be more tolerant and patient with the work schedules and understand that it’s not a game designed to catch them. Everyone else could be more tolerant of their frustration and annoyance, and we can do that while still pointing out that, hey man, you breaks the rules, you pays the price.

    • As I pointed out in my post above, assuming the complaint is from yesterday (Monday), Washington Gas WAS there with multiple vehicles in the evening and before 7 pm. I don’t know what time they arrived but it’s possible it was after 4:50 pm. I didn’t arrive home until later, but before 7 and I saw them. And one of them was blocking a fire hydrant, possibly (though I didn’t investigate) because their reserved parking was taken.

  • From someone who recently put up “emergency no parking” signs and had to get cars towed, just respect the signs and the parking regulations! It’s not that difficult! Be respectful of others! If you flaunt the regulations or decide to “chance” it, you should be fined!

  • phl2dc

    I love when people write in with stories that reek of entitlement.

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