The City of Annapolis recently installed digital parking meters offering the option of credit card or coin payments. This seems like a great idea, right?  Well, a lot of citizens are less than thrilled with the city’s newest hi-tech upgrade. Why?

First, the ease-of-payment comes with a “convenience fee” in the form of skyrocketing rates, which have jumped from $1.00/hour to a whopping $2.00/hour. That’s a 100 percent jump in price! Parking in most Manhattan neighborhoods doesn’t cost that much!

Second, many downtown business owners worry that higher parking prices will drive shoppers away from the Historic District, prompting them to spend their money at retail centers where parking is free and there’s no threat from meter maids.

Join The Resistance

So, how can you fight back?  You have three options:

  1. Sign a petition
  2. Walk or take public transportation, or
  3. Park and risk catching the fancy of one of Annapolis’ finest.

Frankly, none of these options addresses the real underlying issue – how to avoid getting an Annapolis parking ticket in the first place.

There are two ways police can issue parking tickets – marking tires and reading expired meters.  The future, however, holds a rather disturbing third scenario: Police cars equipped with a tag scanner. To date, Annapolis’ scanner program has primarily been used to identify stolen vehicles, expired registrations and outstanding warrants, but using tag scanners and cameras to issue parking tickets is just around the corner.

Case in point, the City of San Francisco has recently mounted cameras on municipal buses to video cars parked illegally. One journalist got snagged and filed a news report about the program.  He claimed he only pulled over into an illegal spot for about a minute to take a phone call and comply with California’s hands-free law. The camera snapped and the ticket arrived in his mail a few weeks later.  Can you say “Big Brother”?

So what can you do if the worst happens and you find a parking ticket under your windshield wiper? Here are three tips for how to fight an Annapolis parking ticket:

#1: Have Your Day In Court

Once an Annapolis parking ticket is issued, you have the right to request a trial within five days of that date. If you contest the ticket, it’s entirely possible the trial will interfere with the officer’s schedule, resulting in a no-show and your ticket’s dismissal. And just imagine, if everyone contested their tickets, the parking enforcement officers would be in court all day an unable to issue any tickets at all!  Hmmmm….

 #2: Thrown Out on a Technicality

Check your ticket with a fine-toothed comb to make sure it’s filled out without mistakes. Is the car’s make, model, license plate and VIN correct? Is the time of the incident accurate and did the officer note the location’s proper address? Is the ticket legible? If parking is allowed after 6 p.m. and your ticket reads 6:02 p.m., you win! Human error is your best friend.

#3: Be Perry Mason

If you’re claiming your parking meter was broken, you must submit proof in court.  Take a photo (or better yet, a video) attempting to feed the meter and showing it not registering the time. Date stamp the photo or video, because if the meter is repaired the following day, you’re out of luck. All I can say is, thank goodness for smart phones!

Municipalities all over the country are strapped for cash and parking tickets represent a huge revenue stream. Odds are, you’re on a tight budget too, so if you receive an Annapolis parking ticket and think it was issued unfairly, go to court and fight it. You can’t win if you don’t try!