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City launches website to fight bogus parking tickets

Steve Chamraz

City launches website to fight bogus parking tickets

CREATED Aug. 23, 2012 - UPDATED: Aug. 23, 2012

MILWAUKEE - The city's multi-space parking meters rely on a lot of technology, but it's a little sticker that could help fix the meters' nagging flaw.
 
More than 3,000 undeserved parking tickets were issued in 2011 to drivers who paid for a spot at one of the electronic meters, according to city records.
 
Earlier this month, the Department of Public Works began affixing stickers reading "Meter paid? TIX AID" to those meters - directing the wrongly ticketed to a website  where they can prove their spot was paid for.
 
Attorney Michael Whitcomb calls the website a step towards simplifying a confusing process.
 
"It was very difficult for me to navigate the web pages and the phone numbers to speak to a live person to see how to get this taken care of," Whitcomb said.
 
Earlier this summer, Whitcomb fought a ticket on behalf of a client who was ticketed in error.
 
On June 13, Whitcomb's client paid for a spot on the 400 block of East Wells St. though 12:33 p.m.
 
Upon returning to her car, she found a parking ticket for an unpaid meter written at 12:20.
 
"She was very frustrated," Whitcomb said. "Upset, didn't know what to do. She thought she did something wrong."
 
According to the Department of Public Works, the meter was not recorded as paid because of an "abnormally high amount of cellular network traffic at that time."
 
DPW blames a number of problems on the 3,000 multi-space meter tickets issued in error last year.
 
In some cases, according a letter from department spokesperson Shirley Krug, the meters do not communicate a paid spot back with the rest of the system.
 
In others, aggressive parking checkers write tickets faster than a person can walk to a meter and go through the steps of providing payment.
 
No matter what the reason, this works out to an average of 11.5 drivers inconvenienced by bogus tickets every day the meters are enforced.

While he is glad to see the city making it easier for drivers to correct parking checkers' errors, Whitcomb said he will rely on a low-tech solution to being wrongly ticketed.
 
"I hope everyone grabs a receipt now," he said. "That's your proof that you paid."

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