Is this legal:
And in Boston and other Massachusetts cities, folks “cannot challenge a $100 parking ticket in court without first paying a $275 court fee,” a fee which is not refunded if they’re ultimately found innocent.
Seriously. The mafia has more shame.
I simply do not understand how they can get away with this.
I dunno, reminds me of a modern day poll tax or other SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation). Still no less wrong.
well, if you don’t want to get a parking fine, you can always choose not to drive in DC or Boston.
Look, I’m one of the first to point out the many flaws of Bush and his cult, but really… blaming this on Bush is a bit ridiculous. (yes, I know they were making a joke… sort of)
Last I checked, DC and Boston were not exactly hotbeds of Republicofascism. This is just garden-variety bureaucracy-solving-a-problem-in-as-lousy-a-way-as-possible.
Seems like it’s something that probably shouldn’t be legal but conceptually probably not a bad idea. I would imagine there are a decent number of asshats who challenge valid parking tickets safe in the knowledge that the writing officer probably won’t show up to the hearing.
The administrative costs just for the judge & courtroom alone would blow past $100 – let alone actually getting the cop to show up.
Still seems like it shouldn’t be legal though.
Huh. I lived in Boston for 13 years, and I had no idea about that. I suspect they get away with it because very, very few people actually bother to challenge parking tickets there–residents know that your best bet is to treat the entire city as a no-parking zone, and to budget for two or three tickets as part of the cost of driving in Boston.
(Which is not to say that it’s right–just that people don’t complain because they don’t know.)
It cost money to litigate a $100.00 parking ticket.
And while I haven’t been in Boston for several years, exactly how long do you have to be parked illegally to rack up a $100.00 parking fine? Weeks? At what point do they tow the car?
On the surface it looks ridiculous, but I suspect there’s more to this than Sully and others suggest.
And trust me, when it comes to traffic tickets I’m a litigious fiend! I’ll pay a lawyer $300.00 to get a $75.00 speeding tickit dismissed for obvious reason (though I haven’t had a ticket in years).
And let’s face it, history shows it’s not all that difficult to dupe Andy.
Christ, why don’t they just tell people that if they contest their tickets someone will break their knee caps?
As for DC:
We are talking about a city, well known for the incompetence and “Fuck you,” attitude of its workers, that had a quota system for parking/traffic infractions until it became painfully obvious that enforcers were making shit up to meet their quotas. But rather than … I don’t know, telling people not to make shit up (which might in turn lead to people successfully contesting their tickets), they’re going to try to add to the bullshit.
Fortunately there are also fifty zillion bored lawyers roaming the streets of DC, but I’d like to kick the brainiac who came up with this latest bit of idiocy.
The Other Steve
I read Powerline so you don’t have to.
Rachel Paulose, our wonderful US Attorney, is now claiming that there is a cabal of pro-human trafficking proponents who are out to get her. That’s where all of the opposition to her is coming from!
excuse me, but everyone has the right to be confronted with the evidence against them. If the cop doesn’t bother to show, then he/she is the asshat, not the citizen.
IT. IS. PART. OF. HIS. JOB.
The power of government – exactly what I was talking about in my earlier post. They can do whatever they want, unchecked
Oh c’mon Jake… BFR sez only asshats contest parking tickets. Everyone knows you’re guilty until proven innocent in this country… that is, except when you can’t even protest your guilt.
Just pay the $100 and STFU, Jake. God bless America, where at least I know I’m free.
Agreed, but I was referring to the people who contest offenses specifically because they see it as an avenue to avoid paying.
I’m with you if you legitimately don’t think you violated an ordinance & that’s why this doesn’t seem like it should be legal to me.
If you haven’t lived in Massachusetts, you couldn’t fathom what they do with the tax money. Schools in the state cancel entire athletics programs if they don’t collect enough player/family “donations”, per player it can be from $250 to $1500. per sport. If they can’t get the funds, they cancel the season. If you want the government eating at your dinner table, it is where you need to be. In my 22 yrs of service, Massachusetts, as full of history and beauty as you may find, is the worst run state of the 9 I was assigned to. They are pitiful, you pay, the waste. Ask John Kerry about the cost “real” of the Big Dig.
By all means, we should sacrifice one of our most basic civil rights – habeas corpus – in the name of bureaucratic efficiency.
Really? And on what do you base that opinion? Gut feeling? That little voice in your head that cries, “that ain’t fair!”
Sorry, that ain’t good enough in a court of law. You have the right to be presented with the evidence against you, whether it’s a parking ticket or murder. If it inconveniences some cop, some judge, or some bureaucrat, that is just too fucking bad. They are working for OUR government, not THEIR government.
Someone call Mitt “Don’t touch the hair. I worked a long time on the hair. And you’re touching it” Romney! I heard he was in charge of that place recently!
No, I said that I bet there are a decent number of people who behave this way & I suspect that’s part of the reason that’s why these cities are trying this, although to an earlier comment it seems like a stupid & dubiously legal way to approach it.
so because some asshats abuse the system, we should deny everyone’s rights?
By the way, what you are getting at is what conservatives love to scornfully call, ‘getting off on a technicality.” But there are some very important principles based on so-called ‘technicalities.’ There are people who likely committed a crime, who were not found guilty (or even had to stand for trial) because the cops obtained evidence against them through illegal methods – like, beating a confession out of them or breaking into their house without a warrant in order to obtain evidence.
It is the cops’ knowledge that these ‘technicalities’ can and will kill a case, that keeps them from engaging in this shit much more often. Your civil rights depend on a few scumbags ‘getting off on a technicality’ every now and then. They even may well depend on letting a few asshats ‘get off on a technicality’ by contesting a parking ticket to see if the cop bothers to show up.
i dunno, but if i forget to move my car on alternate-side-day in NYC i get like a $65 fine.
shit’s expensive these days, dogg.
Mmmm… I don’t know about Boston, but in Philadelphia 10 or 12 years ago I got a $100 ticket for parking at an expired meter.
No and again I’d point out that I seriously question whether this is even legal. I just don’t doubt that this is in some respect a measure intended to cut down on abuse.
Makes sense. All true freedom loving peoples in democracies know courts are full of judicial activists that can’t be counted on to do the right thing. Musharraf would be among the first to ditto.
Habeas Corpus is not being denied. You have the right to contest the ticket, but you have to pay an amount that exceeds the original fine. Be reasonable for crying out loud.
Actually, Boston has a no-cost hearing system for contesting parking tickets. You can do it in person, by mail or on-line. By no-cost i mean no-fee — there is a cost, since the hearing system has to be funded through the municipal (taxpayer) budget. Nothing is “free.”
If you lose there and then want to go to court, well you pay court costs. If the public really wants to fund the court system to the tune of millions so people can get no-cost hearings before judges to challenge parking tickets, well the legislation can be put forward and debated. The money has to come from somewhere to pay for the courts, the OT for the meter maid, the city attorney, etc. …
Municipal budgeting — it’s a blast.
Unfortunately, parking tickets, which used to be designed for safety violations or to keep people moving (so downtown businesses had room in front for customers) are now a lucrative revenue raiser for cities.
As Republicans poisoned the well for “general” tax increases to cover all the services people voted in favor of (and Democrats failed to articulate the positive case), municipalities have increasingly turned to sources like parking tickets, red light cameras, park fees, etc. to offset the lack of general income tax revenue.
It’s also why property taxes have shot through the roof (even accounting for the “rise” in property values).
Here’s my speculation: Trying a court case costs much more than $100, the cost of the ticket, but raising the ticket cost to cover court costs for those who go to trial (amortized, that is, given that this is a small percentage) would cause public outrage, so they go with this. Similarly, raising taxes is also politically infeasible. A stupid solution demonstrating minor political cowardice.
This is just an expression of the will of the people. If you don’t like it you can run against it in the next election.
If true, this is truly awful. The sourcing (ultimately, one clerk’s claim to one woman, as reported in a column in the rather unreliable Boston Herald) seems a bit weak. So – as a Cambridge, MA resident who very rarely parks on the street in Boston – I will hold out some hope.
Written in jest; but just this afternoon I got a Delinquent Notice of Parking Citation letter from the Fort Worth Violations Bureau.
$35 bucks for the offense of “Parked Facing Traffic”.
Problem is… I’ve never been to Ft Worth. Ever. Someone wrote down a vehicle tag wrong, and from that they got my name and address. Now I’ve got to call them up and try to get the thing straightened out.
JCricket is exactly right.
As a city government employee, i’d like to address the libertarian crowd who are anti-tax but then start getting pissed when “rightful” government services starting charging huge fees, especially to the simpletons up thread who said “IT. IS. THEIR. JOB.” and the other one who said something about “political cowardice” for not raising taxes.
America will get the country it pays for. Plain and simple. If you don’t want to pay taxes don’t be surprised when your bridges, local goverments and court systems all either stop working completely or require a user fee for their operation. Capitalists are extremely pragmatic with their own money but when it comes to government seem to think the essential functions of it will continue without funding. I deal with these attitudes every day, and what’s more I see the important things that government does behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly. What I don’t know is how to get the average citizen to see these things.
P.S. I had missed Heywood Jablomey’s comment above, which I found rather enlightening.
P.P.S. Hey, why can’t I embed links using standard html (bracket a href style)?
P.P.P.S I am – obviously – all in favor of punnish names for commenters, but isn’t Jablomey’s handle a bit uncouth?
Christ, tea got dumped into the harbor for less than that.
That was me, I guess. I entirely agree that “America will get the country it pays for.” What I want is a fair accounting. In today’s political landscape, Republicans can get away with promoting tax cuts without ever admitting that this will reduce services. WTF? Maybe “political cowardice” is overstating the matter, but I want politicians who will say, for example, “Running a court system (or school system, or health system, or whatever) requires this amount of money, and if we’re not willing to shoulder the burden collectively, there will be workarounds in which some people end up getting unfairly screwed. And putting it all on credit won’t work.”
The reason politicians don’t say that is because they wouldn’t get elected again. Because the opponent would say “yesofcourse you can have BOTH guns AND butter AND lower taxes!” And Americans, never being able to resist anyone who promises something them FREE, fall like chumps, over and over again.
I never understood why anyone would vote Republican in this day and age. You’ve got a bunch of people who claim that government doesn’t work. And you elect them to run….the government? This is about as silly as a Fortune 100 company hiring as CEO a fire-breathing Trotskyite who claims he doesn’t believe in the validity of corporations or the capitalist system. You expect him to do a good job? Hello? Something does not compute.
I don’t have any facts off the top of my head, but I recall that Romney refused to raise taxes during his time as governor of Massachusetts. To make up the revenue shortfall, he increased fees across the board. Marriage licenses, driver’s licenses, etc…I wouldn’t be surprised if this was somehow related.
You may call me WOODY if you prefer.
(I adopted the handle in response to a troll named Peter Johnson. Alas I feel stuck with it.)
To echo what Heywood said, challenging a parking ticket is free. However, appealing beyond the initial challenge requires filing a complaint in the Superior Court. The fee for filing a Superior Court complaint is $275.
The filing fee is indeed high. In 2003 Mitt Romney, as part of his no tax hikes but hike the shit of out fees program, doubled the Superior Court filing fees.
Oh, for those wondering how a doubled filing fee ends up at $275, the actual filing fee is $240. Then they tack on something called a “security fee” ($20) and the a “surcharge” ($15).
The Authorti in Boston are really giving Florida a run for its money.
With the Aqua Teen Hunger Force terrorist attack to this, you just have to scratch your head and stay away from the place.
As I thought,
Nobody would address the use of Mass tax revenue. You want to make excuses why it seems logical. Let me give you some basic Mass logic. I purchased a home in 1998, in Mass, was reassigned in 02. Taxes were 3x from the time of purchase. What was returned as a tax payer was less. I still have children living in Mass they pay more in taxes than most of you have for a gross income. Yeah, Mass, will eat your lunch and also ask you too leave the tip.
Commenters are being uncouth on Balloon Juice??? No fucking way.
What do you say when you ask them why they don’t live somewhere else? (From a former Amherst resident.)
I described this as Democrats failing to “articulate the positive case for taxes”. And yes, there is one. Sure, it would take a while because we’ve capitulated for so long to the “you can have it all” party (i.e. Republicans), but it’s worth fighting for.
Get people to honestly understand what taxes are, how their desired services are/not funded, and who really shoulders the burden (ever increasing amount of the poor and the middle class, an ever decreasing amount of massively profitable corporations and high-net worth individuals). This only benefits Democrats and the country in the long run. Once you get people to understand Republicans stand for the rich on the backs of the poor and middle class, Democrats can’t help but win.
What are Republicans going to do? Embrace tax increases? Embrace the idea that government is part of the solution?
For example, keeping the estate tax, eliminating the “carried interest” loophole, returning the capital gains rate to where it was, along with the highest tax bracket would massively reduce (if not eliminate) the deficit. And that would effect, maybe, 5% of the population. The same 5% that has seen their income grow at a rate many, many times inflation over the past 10-15 years.
Compared to the opposite (i.e. Republican tax policies), which will require a massive gutting of services (no one will stand for it) or a massive increase on those who have seen their incomes stagnate or fall over the last 30 years (poor and middle class).
If people voted in favor of the party that stood (at least nominally) for their own economic self-interests, Republicans would never win a single election again.
Equal Opportunity Cynic
I lived in MA and successfully challenged a few tickets, including a wrong-way down a confusing, poorly marked street downtown in 1996 (money quote: Magistrate: “He just moved to town, and the streets are confusing.” Prosecutor: “But lots of cities have confusing streets!”) and an expired inspection sticker sometime in the early 2000s. If this is true, it’s probably more of Mitt bringing his deft CEO’s touch to the Commonwealth. I left at the end of 2006 and never heard such a thing.
Equal Opportunity Cynic
Oh, never mind. I read further down, and the contesting / appealing distinction is probably true.
What REALLY pissed me off was getting billed for excise tax for the year after I left the state! Because I took the car off the road, rather than registering it in my new state, they wouldn’t accept non-residence as proof of not owing the tax. I finally wrote out a technically correct bill of sale to my parents and got off for the minimum $5, but I vowed never to spend more time there than I have to in the future.
We used to have higher taxes in Minnesota than we do now. They were very onerous, just like in Massachusetts. The good part about them, though is that we had high services. Despite the worst winters in the lower 48, Minnesota was really a livable place. Unfortunately, enough Minnesotans bought into the no new taxes bullshit (we now get high property taxes instead), and the quality of life in the state has suffered.
Not only is contesting a parking ticket in MA free, but in my limited experience it’s also more likely to have a happy ending than in California, where I have NEVER succeeded at fighting any kind of ticket, even the really outrageously unfair ones (such as one for going 5 MPH over the limit on a highway where the lower-than-usual speed was not marked for traffic going my direction).
It’s funny how pissed we get at tickets when they’re just a form of semi-voluntary taxation. I guess it’s the sting of getting spanked for being naughty (which I guess could be fun in the right context…).
Hey John: After reading Dungheap’s comment above, could you maybe add an update to the post above. If the post is inaccurate and left that way, it has a way of spreading as truth – as you know.
Also, the original article to which you linked cites as its evidence a Boston Herald (think Murdoch) opinion column which also fudges the facts.
I’ve known at least 3 people over the years (Boston, and other MA towns) here that have contested their tickets and if they’d been charged anything -let alone more than the cost of their ticket – to do it, I wouldn’t have heard the end of it.
Nobody with any sense drives in Boston anyway.
In Michigan, a court just ruled that the sex offenders who have their convictions thrown out are still required to be on the sex offender registration list and follow all the various requirements (can’t live near schools, registration, etc.).
Isn’t that unfair? Double jeopardy it seems to me, I mean what about folks who have been proven innocent of wrongdoing for something like this. I bet someone who really is innocent should take this to court and have this overturned.
It’s like the personal version of forfeiture laws. The government doesn’t have to prove you guilty of a crime to seize your property as criminal proceeds, and it’s up to you to sue the government to get it back.
The attorney for the defendant? plaintiff? in the registration case said he may appeal, but it would be “complicated”. Why, I don’t know. I believe it was the Court of Appeals that issued the ruling, so it would have to go to the Michigan Supreme Court, composed of a bunch of feuding hacks.
Think about it for a second, before questioning it: what sort of offense would lead to a parking ticket as high as $100? Really obnoxious shit, like parking in front of a fire hydrant, or maybe in a handicapped space on the street.
You know: the kind of ignorant crap there really is no defense for in the first place.
Then, think about the costs involved in putting on the case: the prosecution, the judge, staff, the court reporter, etc. Not to mention the cop who issued the ticket who is going to be sitting in a court room for an hour or too, getting paid overtime for the whole time they are there, just so he can tell the court why he gave a ticket to some asshole who was too fucking lazy to find a spot where there wasn’t a fire hydrant.
Stow the outrage – if you do something dumb enough to warrant a parking ticket that costs that much, you shouldn’t be able to come in to court and whine about it for free.
Agreed, but I was referring to the people who contest offenses specifically because they see it as an avenue to avoid paying.
One of the worst people I’ve ever personally met was a lawyer who specialized in getting parking tickets dismissed on technicalities. I had the misfortune to bump into this guy at a party, and was stuck listening to him fume that the city had changed its traffic ticket form from “vehicle color, make, model and year” to “vehicle color, make and model,” because arguing that his client’s maroon Ford Taurus was a 1989 model but the ticket said 1990 was one of the better weapons in his arsenal.
I definitely disagree with the DC policy, and am inclined to disagree with Boston’s as well, but that doesn’t mean I can work up much sympathy for the asshats that are being targeted.
My solution is simply to avoidse visiting the cities. and thus not spending any of my money in these big city traffic traps or in any of their stores or hotels or resturants.
Every U.S. city I’ve ever lived in for the 35 years I’ve had a drivers license has some version of this Catch-22. Where I live now, a speeding ticket for
OK, let me try again; my unescaped less-than sign broke the message.
Every U.S. city I’ve ever lived in for the 35 years I’ve had a drivers license has some version of this Catch-22. Where I live now, a speeding ticket for less than 10 mph over is a $35 fine if you mail it in. If you show up in court to contest it the odds are about 90% it’ll be dismissed, but then you pay the absolutely-non-waivable $66 court costs. Absolutely-non-waivable, that is, unless you show up with a lawyer who will have a quick word with the court clerk and make the whole thing go away. Of course unless you’re buddies with one, the lawyer is going to be charging you a heck of a lot more than $66.
It’s just one of the weird, annoying things about municipal law in These Great United States. Personally, I pine for the days when that kind of thing was the most egregious violation of the spirit of the Constitution.
As Joey states, we have a similar issue here in Chicago. I don’t remember the exact court fee but I know it is quite a bit more than the standard $50 parking ticket. Many of us just think of them as “neighborhood taxes” and move on. And I think the tax rate is going up to $80 under King Daley’s new budget for 2008.
Alright, who let grandpa simpson out of his home again?
Once again, its worth noting that a fancy new War On Terra Fighter Jet From Raytheon(tm) will cost you $2 billion in hard cash or $2 billion + 50% interest on the installment plan.
Meanwhile, its just too expensive to run the court system in this country because Judges and DAs want to get paid more than $7/hr.
Where’s that big-ass discretionary spending graph of the Federal Budget? Something like 50-60% of our budget goes into the military, with the remaining loose change divied up among EVERYTHING ELSE! If you think 35% income tax is high, know that you could get a 5% reduction in costs if you just decided to ditch the Navy, but eliminating the Justice Department, the Education Department, and the EPA wouldn’t give you nearly the same savings.
If y’all would follow the link chain back to the muckraking garbage that originally reported this, thenewspaper.com, you’d see what a festering piece of crap it is.
I am sorry John, I am just going to make you angry with not hotlinking the url above. I refuse to play any part in driving people to that trash.
You can see the garbage editorializing where Jake quotes it above, with “The move is intended to allow automated street sweeper parking ticket machines” – that’s not sourced from anyone in DC. Personally I am COMPLETELY in favor of the expedited ticketing of people parked in no-park zones, whether they be for street sweeping or trafic flow. DC is a traffic nightmare, and encouraging people to quit screwing up traffic by ignoring the very clearly marked riles is just fine with me.
Bingo! We have a winner. This is exactly the situation. Parking Tickets Fines are for the most part no longer about an appropriate penalty for the transgression, but an essential part of municipal funding, at least in most major U.S. cities.
Yes, they are expensive in L.A.
This is a nice representative of some budget figures.
Not exactly what you mentioned, but I like it.
As I pointed out, though, it’s the American public who (in a sense) forced us to this position. They claim they hate getting “nickled and dimed” (through user fess, gas taxes, tolls, sin taxes, property taxes, sales tax, etc.) but show no appetite for the obvious solution – minor increases in income taxes, with increased progressivity to the income tax code.
As soon as someone (outside of Ron Paul) starts running on the “cut services and taxes” platform, we can assume that at least the “tax and spend” Democrats have some hope of being fiscally responsible, where the “spend and borrow” Republicans are just leading us ever deeper into debt.
I dunno what the hell you people are talking about. The costs of private parking garages are so high in Boston that it’s cheaper to park in the wrong place on the street and get a 25 dollar parking ticket. For example, I parked for 4 hour over the meter limit on Newbury Street. Parking ticket was 25 bucks. Parking garage cost for the entire time would have come to over 40 bucks.
So yeah, I dunno how long you need to leave your car parked in a stupid place to get a 100 dollar fine, but at the parking ticket rates vs. private garage rates, I’ll take the parking ticket, tyvm.