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By Jordan W. Charness

I can’t tell you how many telephone calls and e-mails I’ve received on the subject of parking tickets, perhaps it’s because almost every driver is destined to eventually get at least one over the course of his or her driving career. Still, it always seems to come as a big surprise to people when they receive one.

It’s amazing how many people don’t know how to tell time, remember at what time they actually parked, or remember the amount of time that is left on the parking meter; they don’t remember to take a look at the signs to see if they are allowed to park at that place; they don’t look for fire hydrants; they don’t look for driveways. Most people are just so happy to have found somewhere to park that they just park and run.

Nonetheless, almost everyone has received at least one parking ticket that he or she is absolutely certain was not deserved. That, of course, brings with it the horrible realization that actually fighting the ticketing in court will likely cost you more time and money and lost productivity than paying the darn thing. And then there’s the prospect of losing the challenge, which will likely result in additional court costs, extra fines, and possibly even interest charges. By the time you’re done, paying the ticket starts to look like a bargain.

(Actually, parking tickets in Canada are generally a real bargain compared to the cost of parking legally in some parts of the United States. I just came back from New York City where it cost me $50 a day to park my car at my hotel! The city tax alone on the parking was almost $14 a day!)

In any case, the vast majority of times where people truly feel that they do not deserve their parking tickets arise from the fact that they had no idea that certain laws were in effect. Remember that ignorance of the law is no excuse, so even if what you’re doing may be legal back home, this will not be considered a valid defence.

Here are a few examples.

Lines Along the Road: In some cities, instead of having ‘no parking’ signs posted nearby, there is a yellow or blue line painted on the curb indicating that you are not allowed to park there. In fact in many European cities, the colour coded dots and dashes painted on the sidewalk are all you get as a reminder of where you are allowed, or not allowed to park.

Too Close to the Edge: In most places, it is illegal to park less than five metres from the corner. Since this is more than the average car length, many people feel that they can squeeze in right up to the corner and leave their car while going to a restaurant for coffee. Unfortunately, it’s not the case. Parking too close to the corner creates an obstruction that makes it difficult to see if there’s a car coming.

Point Your Nose: Generally speaking, you are only allowed to park your car in the same direction as the flow of traffic. If you parked pointed the wrong way in what is a legal parking place, you may still find yourself ticketed.

Parking in a Snowbank: This is my all-time favourite. It’s quite interesting to see how people try to park their cars just after heavy snowfall. They seem to take a running start and jam it in any old which way. Who cares if your tail is sticking two metres out into the road, as long as you are as close as possible to your home? Answer? The parking police; they’re the ones who care.

If you do ever get a parking ticket that you don’t deserve, sit back and remember all the times where you know you parked illegally but got away with it. Then divide the number of times you didn’t get a ticket when you should have and the cost of the occasional undeserved ticket. It’s a small price to pay.

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