10/30/2008US House Report Slams Parking Ticket Hypocrisy
Local, state and federal officials routinely ignore parking tickets issued in Washington, DC and New York City, New York.
A copy of the report is available in a 1mb PDF file at the source link below.
Municipal, state and federal government agencies are among the biggest offenders when it comes to illegal parking and non-payment of parking citations. A report released last week by the US House Committee on Transportation documented 4000 cases last year where employees in federal vehicles skipped out on paying parking tickets worth $700,000 in Washington, DC and New York City. The total does not include unpaid tickets in foreign countries and other cities throughout the fifty states where 642,000 automobiles registered to the US government are in use.
"Over one-half of all workers in the southernmost section of Manhattan are government employees," the report explained. "Essentially, all of lower Manhattan is a free parking lot for government vehicles."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was responsible for the majority of delinquent New York City parking tickets issued to federal automobiles. FBI officials told the committee that after a thorough investigation they were unable to come up any suspects who may have been responsible for illegally parking FBI vehicles on 218 occasions. The report also noted that most meter maids ignore federal vehicles because they know there is no point in issuing a citation.
"Federal law requires employees to pay parking tickets received on U.S. government vehicles, but because there are no consequences for ignoring parking tickets, federal employees have no incentives to pay up or to comply with local parking laws," the report stated. "The DC Department of Public Works does not boot or tow government-tagged vehicles, 'as a matter of long-standing policy.'"
In Washington, US military recruiters were the top federal recipients of tickets. The recruiters complained that this was a result of the city's notorious lack of parking. A total of 158 parking tickets went to the Army, Navy and Air Force worth $27,840 last year. Although most of the military recruiters believed the tickets were issued in error, none found it necessary to challenge the DC citations under the same process that ordinary motorists must face.
"Tickets have not been challenged due to the demanding work schedule Navy Recruiters have had," the Navy told the committee.
There is reason to listen to the complaint about bogus citations. A December 9, 2007 fleet management report provided by the New York City Department of Finance claimed that the 1st Marine Corps District owed $496,818 for 2539 parking tickets. It turns out that the city misidentified the vehicles involved and the Marines only owed $19,551 for 151 tickets. Often ordinary motorists who are falsely accused of such violations are forced to pay large fines simply to protect their credit rating or driver's license.
Federal workers were not alone in ignoring parking laws. City workers in Washington and New York also disregarded citations issued by fellow employees. DC government vehicles generated 329 unpaid tickets worth $33,360 while New York city and state vehicles skipped out on paying 2562 tickets worth $490,939.
"As public servants, federal employees should have a heightened sense of responsibility for preserving, protecting, and promoting public safety. Federal employees who use government property, including government vehicles, to break the law are not only abusing their positions but are abusing the public trust," the committee report concluded.