Unjustly fined for parking downtown

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hello parking meter! by Nahh, on FlickrMy friend Tony Baker was featured on a KOTV News on 6 story tonight about his recent downtown Tulsa parking misadventure. In a nutshell, a $15 parking ticket was written on his vehicle when there was still an hour left on the meter. The time stamp on the credit card transaction in the meter and the amount paid prove that no ticket should have been written.

He could have fought the ticket, but it would have cost money -- a $30 court bond -- and the time to appear in municipal court. Tony was understandably annoyed at the thought that the city could simply slap tickets on any car at random, knowing that most people would find it easier to pay the fine than to fight it. That, ultimately, is what he decided to do.

The story uncovered a hidden alternative: The City Prosecutor, Bob Garner, can exercise his prosecutorial discretion and drop charges on any municipal citation, including parking tickets or city-issued traffic fines. If you believe a citation was issued in error, present it to him, and if you've got a reasonable case and proof to back it up, he's willing to drop the citation. (My paraphrase.)

(Similarly, you can sometimes attend a defensive driving course to prevent a municipal moving violation for counting as points on your state driving record. This, too, involves going to the prosecutor, and I imagine his willingness to accommodate you will depend on the flagrancy of the violation and how clean your record is.)

There's a part of the story that KOTV left out, no doubt for the sake of time and simplicity. Tony works in downtown Tulsa, and his wife and their two young children had driven downtown that day to meet him for lunch at a free "Brown Bag It" concert at the Performing Arts Center. It was the family car that was ticketed.

Many of us who love downtown developed our taste for it as kids, from family visits to Dad's office in the skyscraper or lunch with Dad at a downtown eatery. Coming back from a fun midday meetup with Dad to find a ticket on the car is only going to dampen enthusiasm for a return visit. In fact, many of the proposed parking changes downtown -- extending hours for parking meter monitoring into evenings and weekends, metering streets that currently lack them -- are only likely to annoy and deter potential visitors, shoppers, and diners. We need to make it easier, less confusing, and less annoying for visitors to come downtown to spend a couple of hours and some money.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 3, 2013 10:25 PM.

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