Monday, June 15, 2009
Help Me Howard: Parking Ticket
This one sounds simple. You get a ticket, you have proof you are not guilty and the judge still makes you pay a fine. Is that legal? One man says no, and that's why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Christian is being homeschooled, and his father makes sure he doesn't just learn from his books.
Kevin Morris: "And we use anything like that, we try to learn and a chance to see what is going on in the world."
One lesson about life came after Kevin and his son left a Miami Heat game a few weeks ago and found a parking ticket on their SUV.
Kevin Morris: "And a little surprised, I even said to my son, they must have made a mistake. We have got more than a half hour remaining."
Thirty-eight minutes to be exact. The parking receipt was properly displayed on Kevin's dash and showed he had paid till 9 p.m. The ticket was issued at 8:22 p.m. for being parked over time designated.
Kevin Morris: "So, I figured, well, it was a mistake, contact them. Things will be taken care of."
Kevin sent this letter to the Miami-Dade Court, along with a copy of the $18 ticket and the receipt for parking.
Kevin Morris: "It was heard by the judge, and the judge said they reduced the fee to $10."
Kevin was not guilty, but he was still slapped with a fine, so he contacted the county again.
Kevin Morris: "My question was, I was parked legally, why would I have to pay $10? They said, 'Well, that's just the ruling.'"
That was a lesson in government Kevin could not understand.
Kevin Morris: "Why would anyone who is parked legally get a ticket, number one, and if it is not my mistake, it should be removed and no charge. That's basically it."
The fine is only $10, but Kevin says, if each person who is not guilty is paying $10, it's making a lot of money for the county.
Kevin Morris: "If this is a practice, how many people park legally and are basically told you have to pay $10 to the city to get out of a ticket that you never should have gotten?"
Kevin could have paid the $10 and moved on, but he wanted to teach Christian a lesson, to fight when you are right.
Kevin Morris: "They gave us a ticket when they shouldn't have and everything we did was right."
But, Howard, even if you are right, can you still be wronged by the county?
Howard Finkelstein: "If the receipt is not displayed properly, even if it has not expired, the court will dismiss the ticket but can legally charge you a fee for processing it. However, in a case like Kevin's, when the receipt was displayed properly and had not expired, the courts cannot fine you one dime. Kevin is not guilty and should not pay anything."
When I spoke to the judge in charge of traffic matters, he said, "We are not certain how this happened, that we guess the officer didn't see the receipt." He said to tell Kevin he did the right thing by disputing the charge. Judge Steven Leifman then waived the $10 fine.
Howard Finkelstein: "If you got a ticket, you don't always have to pay."
Kevin taught Christian a lesson, you can fight city hall and win.
Kevin Morris: "Being a home schooler, we try to use the whole enviroment to teach them little things and what happens in the world, and that's one thing I am glad Christian really got a chance to see that whole process through."
We hear from people who say, "I got a ticket that I should not have gotten, but it's not worth it to go to court to fight it." Sometimes you can dispute the ticket in a letter, like Kevin did. Check to see if you can before you give up and pay up.
Meter made you wanna honk for help? Park your problems with us. That's fine, as long as we don't have to pay.