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Ticketbuster: DDOT issues incorrect rush-hour ticket, stands by decision

Thursday - 5/29/2014, 4:39am  ET

CVSPARKING.JPG
The spot where Eric Rosenberg parked Feb. 10 is not under any rush-hour restrictions, but he was issued a ticket as if it were. (WTOP/Ari Ashe)

WASHINGTON -- Figuring out where to legally park during rush hour in D.C. can be confusing even for ticket writers, as WTOP Ticketbuster uncovered.

Eric Rosenberg received a ticket on Feb. 10 at 4:03 p.m. at 2200 Wisconsin Avenue NW, in Glover Park.

The D.C. Department of Transportation ticket cited Rosenberg for violating a "No Stopping or Standing in PM Rush Hour" sign along the northbound lanes. But Rosenberg parked in the southbound lanes.

"I go to physical therapy twice a week at an office here, so I know the rules like the back of my hand at this point. I always park on the southbound (or west) side of Wisconsin Avenue near the CVS, which is not rush-hour restricted. And I know that if you go down a block in the next zone, it does have a rush hour zone where you cannot park southbound," says Rosenberg.

Rosenberg had evidence to prove where he parked. He paid for the spot with Parkmobile, a mobile app that allows drivers to pay for parking with their smartphones. His receipt shows he paid for zone 21834, which corresponds to the southbound lanes.

Parkmobile confirmed to WTOP Ticketbuster that the receipt was authentic.

A WTOP Ticketbuster visit to the site revealed that the northbound lanes, where DDOT alleged he parked, are in a different zone, as our video shows.

In an email, Parkmobile said two things might have happened: Either Rosenberg parked on the wrong side of the street but paid for the correct side, or the ticket officer made a mistake.

Parkmobile went on to say there was no concrete way proving either scenario and concluded: "... final answer is that this one is officer error."

Rosenberg argues that any DDOT suggestion that the ticket is valid would be foolish.

"Why would I park in a place where there were rush-hour rules, then pay for the zone across the street? That would be crazy," says Rosenberg.

He fought the ticket with the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles and included a copy of the detailed Parkmobile receipt.

Frustrated by form letters

"You were found liable for the infraction described above. According to DMV records, you were cited for violation of rush hour regulations. As the registered owner of the vehicle listed, you are being informed of the Hearing Examiner's decision," DMV examiner Marvin Ruffin wrote to Rosenberg.

Rosenberg says he was upset because the DMV issued its decision by a form letter. Under D.C. law, the DMV will soon be required to provide a detailed explanation in each ruling on how the evidence was deficient.

"This ruling doesn't tell me anything. What is the process? How did they look at it? What did they do? I want to know how they came to the conclusion that the evidence I presented was not valid," says Rosenberg.

Rosenberg Evidence

WTOP Ticketbuster asked DMV officials those questions and was told "DMV relied on evidence submitted by Mr. Rosenberg and on the ticket."

Spokeswoman Vanessa Newton also tells WTOP that Rosenberg has appealed the hearing examiner's decision to the Traffic Adjudication Appeals Board. The appeals board can take two years or more to render a final decision.

DDOT could speed up the process by agreeing that the ticket was issued in error and voiding it. WTOP Ticketbuster presented the evidence to DDOT in mid-April, including the Parkmobile statement. The agency did not issue any response until late in the evening Tuesday, May 27.

"We can ask for a review of the citation. If it is found that the violation is not valid then enforcement will consider dismissal. However, we cannot override the ruling from adjudication," writes DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders.

His answer is not completely accurate. The Department of Public Works has voided several erroneous tickets, even after the hearing examiner ruled against the driver.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sanders asked WTOP Ticketbuster to re-send him the documents and the video to review the case.

Rosenberg just hopes the situation gets resolved before 2016.

"It is in the city's best interest, because parking is at such a premium, to be fair and get it right. I shouldn't have to wait two years for a ticket that was clearly issued incorrectly," he says.

If you think you're the victim of a bogus speed camera, red light camera or parking ticket in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, WTOP may be able to help you cut the red tape. Send us your case along with any documentation to ticketbuster@wtop.com.

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