Monday, April 20, 2009
Help Me Howard: Painted Blue Lines
You have heard the lines before: "The truth is stranger than fiction," or "You can't make this stuff up." Well, that's what one South Florida woman is saying after blue lines were painted around her assigned parking space, and she was ticketed for parking in a handicapped space. Funny, maybe, but a legal headache, which is why she called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Ariel wakes up in her North Bay Village condo, her view makes her smile.
Ariel Lane: "My apartment is gorgeous. I love it. I have views of the water. It is beautiful. I love it."
That's a good thing because her home doubles as her office and working home.
Ariel Lane: "I know that the economy is rough right now, and if I don't get out of bed and get my job done, I'll be another unemployed person."
Everything inside her place is nice. Outside, well, I have never seen anything like this before.
Patrick Fraser: "I'm still, I'm dumbfounded."
Ariel Lane: "So am I."
Here is why Ariel has a parking space assigned to her by the condo association. The other day, she came down to find it was a different color.
Ariel Lane: "So, when I got here, someone had painted around my parking space while my car was parked there and turned it into a handicap parking space."
That's right, turned her personal parking space into a handicapped parking space.
Patrick Fraser: "Painted blue lines?"
Ariel Lane: "Painted blue lines around my parking space and changed the plate in the front, the cement plate, to a blue one, while my car was parked there."
Put a sign up here, moved her assigned curb across the lot, and then, to add insult to injury, immediately called the cops to report her for having her car in the new handicapped space.
Ariel Lane: "So the paint was still wet when the police officer showed up to give me a ticket."
And Ariel was actually lucky. When she came out and saw the ticket, a tow truck was on the way to get her for being in a spot that was hers at 5 o'clock and a handicapped space at 6 o'clock.
Ariel Lane: "It is absolutely ridiculous what happened. It would have taken five minutes to notify me, to have me remove my car so that they could paint the handicap spot and install the signs properly."
Ariel now wants this straightened out.
Ariel Lane: "Well, I would like an apology from the association, especially the property manager, for the way he handled the situation, and I would like to see the ticket expunged or removed."
Well, Howard, I can't image how the law is against Ariel, but I have been wrong before by assuming the law is fair, so does she have to pay the ticket?
Howard Finkelstein: "Ariel is not guilty. If she goes to court to fight the ticket, she will win. If she does not want to go to court, the association should pay the fine, but if Ariel doesn't want this on her record and fights it, she has to return the money to the association when she wins in court because you can't profit from something like this."
When I spoke to the property manager, I was surprised again. He took the full blame. He told me it was an honest mistake, that the prior property management group had destroyed all the parking records, that they didn't know it was Ariel's space, didn't recognize her car and didn't know how to reach her. He did the right thing and wrote Ariel a check to cover the ticket.
Good for Ariel, who can now laugh about one of the silliest things that could happen to any car owner.
Patrick Fraser: "What's it like to walk down and see it?"
Ariel Lane: "It was hilarious, actually. I felt like I was on an episode of the show 'Punk'd.'"
Some people might fight the ticket because if you get a ticket for parking in a disabled space a second time, the fine can increase to $250, but Ariel never has and says she never will park in one, so she doesn't have to worry about a second ticket ... unless someone decides to paint blue lines around her car again.
Painted yourself into a tough spot? Left feeling blue? Park your problem with us cause we have the ticket to terminate your troubles.
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