Wrongfully-Issued Tickets Tough to Fight - NBC Southern California
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Wrongfully-Issued Tickets Tough to Fight

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    Getting traffic tickets when you are not in town -- how can this be? What can you do? Randy Mac reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. (Published Friday, Feb. 26, 2016)

    LA’s parking citation officers hand out millions of tickets each year, but it turns out thousands are the result of officer error.

    Fighting those mistakes can be a time-consuming ordeal.

    Jewelry store staffer Cheryl Davis couldn’t believe it when she got a $300 ticket in the mail from the LA Department of Transportation, citing her for parking in a bus zone in Koreatown.

    “I just figured it was a mistake,” she recalled.

    That’s because she lives in Northern California, drives a different car, and was crossing a Bay Area-bridge just 90 minutes before the ticket was issued. She was even able to get a photo from FasTrak to prove it.

    “They said I was guilty,” Davis said of LADOT, despite her insistence she did not commit any violations in Los Angeles. “They were going to not give me the new registration on my car and they were going to keep adding fees to the $300.”

    The city of LA issues 2.7 million citations each year, and parking rights advocate Jay Beeber tells the I-Team mistakes made by parking enforcement officers all too often put drivers on the defensive.

    “The ticket is what they call prima facie evidence, which means that if the ticket says you did it, we’re going to assume that’s correct,” he said. “When you get into the system and the system has made a mistake and you try to show that, you’re also treated unfairly.”

    City records show nearly 14,000 parking citations were issued as the result of officer error between July 2014 and June 2015.

    “I think the public is justifiably fed up,” said California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale.

    Gatto just proposed a Parking Bill of Rights to eliminate cities’ financial motives to issue parking citations.

    “There’s other ways for the government to get money,” he said.

    His bill would limit the number of parking enforcement officers a city can hire, and control congestion pricing, where fines are increased for parking at certain times of day.

    Cities have made it hard to park, hard to understand the parking laws and then impossible to fight a citation if you get one.

    After the I-Team got involved, the Department of Transportation dismissed Cheryl Davis’ ticket, blaming the error on “a typo of the license plate tag.”

    But Davis said she has a message for the city.

    “You need to do more investigating and not require a payment before they’ve been found guilty,” she said.

    The city tells the I-Team that the best chance of fighting a ticket successfully is to contest it right away.

    If you miss the payment deadline, the State of California will require you to pay your fine before you can schedule a hearing.

    You can find out more about the Parking Bill of Rights proposal here.

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