Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Tale of Two Tickets, Part I

A co-worker of mine at my current F/T day job got a $165 parking ticket for blocking a pedestrian ramp in Dec., last year, 2006. Then, in Jan., this year 2007, he got a $115 ticket for double parking.

Lets call him DA, his initials. He originally hails from Haiti. He speaks fluent French and English. But is not familiar with the American legal system. He's a regular working man. Not rich, but not poor either.

But what regular working stiff has $290 to blow on two parking tickets? The $165 fine + a $10 (late response) penalty + the $115 = $290 total.

He wanted to pay them. But didn't have the cash. Therefore, the $10 penalty for the first ticket, the $165 one.

The $165 ticket was for blocking a pedestrian ramp.

On Dec. 18, 2006, at night, he parked his Honda sedan in front of 525 Empire Blvd., Brooklyn. At mid-block, without any crosswalk or a traffic light. Then, in the morning, Dec. 19, 2006, he found a computerized parking ticket under his wiper. For blocking a pedestrian ramp.

But why would the NYC Dept. of Transportation build a pedestrian ramp in the middle of the block without a crosswalk or a stop light? What mom with a baby stroller or a person in a wheelchair would attempt to cross a street at the middle without either a crosswalk or a stop light?

After a search on the Web, the answer was disturbing. (Source: the newspaper of the politics of driving, In 2005, Arnold Diaz exposed the creation of hidden ramp ticket traps. The NYC Dept. of Transportation was installing pedestrian ramps in the middle of the block without any paint to mark the ramp. And without painting a crosswalk or installing a stop light.

Innocent drivers couldn't see them. But the traffic agents knew where the hidden ramps were. If you were lucky, you only got a $165 ticket. If you were unlucky, you got a $165 ticket. Plus, your auto was towed away. For which, a $185 tow fee was added to your $165 ticket.

I was angry to realize that DA was a victim of a ticket trap set by the government of NYC. The people we expect to enforce the law. Not abuse the law for its own profit. What the $%#&! is going on here?

So, I e-mailed Arnold Diaz, now at Fox 5 News, about DA's hidden ramp ticket. He responded the same day. After a few days of trying to contact DA. I was able to connect DA with AD.

DA wanted to pay the hidden ramp ticket. But I told him that doing so would mean that he would be admitting guilt. When, in fact, he was obviously not guilty. Only a victim.

Currently, DA is working with AD to tell his story of entrapment. Stay tuned.

To be continuted in "A Tale of Two Tickets, Part II"

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