Friday, March 4, 2011

A DC Parking Ticket You Don't Have to Pay

What kind of parking ticket do you not have to pay? If that sounds like a riddle, well, it is, but it's also the truth: There are some kinds of parking tickets that you can just rip up with abandon. What tickets are those? The parking tickets issued by area universities. Here's what happened to one American University Park area resident, as reported on the Tenleytown listserv:
Today I received a $75 ticket from American University Law School for "Parking in Residential St. While Coming to WCL." I received the ticket on my car which was parked directly in front of my house, five blocks from the law school. I have no connection to Washington College of Law and have never been inside. I have parked my car in front of my house every day for over two years and never received a ticket. I walked around the area and found the ticket issuer and asked him why he had ticketed my car. He said "Well, I can't tell who's a resident and who's a student, so I ticket everyone." Sure enough, every single car in the vicinity of my house had a ticket on it. I could count at least 6 cars of my neighbors, all of whom have no connection to the law school, who had been ticketed.
A list member explained how these tickets come about:
This simply refers back to the neighborhood upset about the law school being built. AU is simply trying to follow up on some rules they apply to their students. One of these rules is that they cannot park in this neighborhood. These tickets only apply to the students and everyone else can discard them. I have received a number over the years and if you look closely the ticket will read that you can ignore it if you are not a student at AU."
American University has a web page explaining their neighborhood parking rules. If you prefer not to have that moment of anxiety when you're walking to your car and see a ticket on the window, even if it's a non-enforceable ticket, you can call American University and have your car put on the do-not-ticket list.

An interesting byproduct of the self-enforcement by American University is that it may be that DC parking officials don't ticket illegally parked cars with the same vigor as they do in other parts of the city. Reports another Tenleytown listserv member: "An MPD officer stopped to ticket a car that was parked facing the wrong way. I asked her whether she also intended to ticket the cars parked in excess of the 2-hour parking signs and she responded that 'AU handles that, they've got their own people' and that DC no longer monitored or issued tickets in that area."

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