Recent Steering You Right articles
By Jordan W. Charness
There is nothing that irritated Harry more than getting parking tickets. In his mind, parking was a right that came with ownership of a vehicle. After all, he reasoned, if you drove a car you would eventually have to park it. As far as he was concerned, if the government allowed cars to be sold they should allow unlimited parking anywhere, anytime and any place.
He considered that parking regulations were an unreasonable infringement of his civil rights. At the very least parking in a “No Parking” zone was a victimless crime. Although upon reflection Harry would say that it was no “crime” at all. It was just another way for the government to take money out of his pocket.
Fortunately Harry is intelligent enough to know that parking regulations do indeed serve a purpose in that they ensure free movement of vehicles on public roadways and access for emergency and cleaning vehicles. He also knows that simply complaining to his friends does not mean that he has the courage of his convictions.
Harry knows that parking regulations are here to stay so his favourite form of defense is to avoid getting parking tickets altogether. He is very careful to read all the signs before he parks and make sure to follow each and every rule no matter how much he might disagree with it.
Two recent situations however, caused Harry to get tickets he really felt he did not deserve. Near the place where Harry works is a street that allows parking for a maximum of two hours at a time. Since Harry is a teacher he does not always work a full eight-hour day at school and his class schedule allows him to move the car as necessary.
Harry also knows that the parking patrol often places a chalk mark on the tire and keeps a record of when they saw a car parked at a certain spot. If the patrol returns two hours later and the car is still there the officer will place a ticket under the windshield wiper.
Harry makes sure to move his car at least every hour and 55 minutes. A few weeks ago the only other available spot was the one immediately ahead of the place that he had parked. Harry started his car and moved it up a couple of meters. When the school day was done he found a ticket on his car. He was charged with breaking the two hour parking limit.
Although he was infuriated, upon discussion with me he did concede that it was very likely that the parking patrol officer had not remembered exactly where he had parked and just assumed that he was still in the same place. Harry would have to go to court and testify as to what happened. Chances are he would be acquitted since he was telling the truth. Most judges are pretty adept at figuring out which witnesses are lying to them to try and save 45 bucks and which witnesses have taken a day off work because they truly feel that they are right.
Remember the ice storm in Montreal recently? Harry does. He was late for a meeting downtown and couldn’t find parking anywhere. He drove around for several blocks until he finally found a parking spot a mere six blocks from his destination. The spot was a tight fit and it took him awhile to manoeuvre his minivan into the space.
Already 30 minutes late for the meeting, he rushed over to the meter and tried to put his money in. To his dismay, he found that the meter was frozen over and jammed with ice and snow. No matter what he tried he could not get it to accept his money. He went to his meeting.
Upon his return to his car he found another parking ticket waiting for him. He immediately called the emergency number listed on the parking meter and reported that the meter would not accept his money. Someone promised to send out an inspector.
Harry pleaded not guilty and on the explanation portion of the ticket he explained what happened. He then received a letter from the city saying that an inspector had visited the meter a few days later and found that it was in perfect working order. Harry figured that the ice must have melted by the time the inspector showed up.
Poor Harry will have to once again explain himself in court – a trip that could have been avoided if he had placed a note under his windshield wiper advising the parking patrol that the meter was frozen over. The parking patroller would probably have checked, thereby saving Harry the ticket.