By Steve Chamraz. CREATED Feb 26, 2014 - UPDATED: Feb 26, 2014
MILWAUKEE - If finding one parking ticket on your car is enough to ruin your day, discovering two tickets for the same infraction written within one hour is enough to make a month miserable.
At least that's how it worked for Bay View resident Hallie Knippel.
"I was pretty shocked, I was upset and it felt a little unfair," Knipple said.
Knippel arrived at her car one morning last month to find a ticket for parking too close to a crosswalk. When she went to pay that ticket on the city's parking website, it showed she was issued two citations for the same offense within 42 minutes.
The first written just before midnight -- at 11:19. The second written just after midnight -- at 12:01.
Only one of the tickets was on her car.
"I broke the rule and I wanted to pay my ticket right away so it felt a little unfair that I would be dinged twice in a forty minute period," she said.
Knippel called the Department of Public Works to challenge the second citation but was told both tickets were valid and the second fine would stand.
As parking enforcement explained to her, the calendar flipped to a new day. That meant the parking checker was completely within his rights to issue a second ticket.
Alderman Tony Zielinski and his staff got wind of Knippel's problem through a Bay View Facebook page and went to work on a solution.
While she could only schedule a hearing date to challenge the ticker, Zielinski's office drove it up the DPW chain of command.
The complaint eventually reached parking enforcement manager Tom Sanders, who agreed to rescind the second violation.
"This citation was issued in error and was voided," Sanders wrote in an e-mail to Zielinski's aide.
Now, the DPW is being instructed how to never do this again.
"Right now the department is undergoing a training session with those telecommunicators to make sure those kind of misunderstandings don't occur," said Ald. Zielinski.
Knippel is not sure if this was a misunderstanding or the parking police trying to get away with one.
"We've been back and forth," she said. "Someone said it was an error but the customer service rep on the phone was adamant that it was not an error and that they were well within their rights."
A DPW spokesperson admitted to two mistakes here. First, Knippel should not have been written two tickets. Also, the customer service agent should have voided the second one without question.
The moral here?
Unless you are willing to fight back, you might pay the city twice. Adding more money to the account funded by the city's parking police.
"I think they are really taking advantage of ordinary citizens in Milwaukee," she said.