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9/17/2006
California: Innocent Man Stuck With 100 Parking Tickets
After two years, innocent man is still fighting parking tickets incorrectly issued because of a personalized license plate.

Tickets
In the two years since San Carlos resident Nick Vautier moved to California's San Francisco Bay Area, he has received over a hundred parking tickets worth $3000. He is not responsible for a single one of them, but several jurisdictions continue to prosecute him without ever having established any guilt.

The problem began when Vautier thought it would be fun to put a personalized plate with his initials, NV, on his white Mazda Miata convertible.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Vautier wrote on a website he set up to express his frustration, 100parkingtickets.com.

It turned out, however, that NV was meter maid code for "not visible" and jurisdictions throughout the state began sending Vautier tickets whenever any vehicle -- of every imaginable make, model and color -- to Vautier, the owner of a lone white Mazda. After spending countless hours on the telephone attempting to resolve the issue with court clerks, the besieged motorist finally gave up his plate. Still, Los Angeles and Oakland refuse to acknowledge his innocence.

"First, the DMV refused to issue me my registration, until I got a piece of paper saying I was not guilty," Vautier wrote. "Then I received a notice that the Franchise Tax Board wanted to garnish my wages. Not with cilantro either. Then I get a notice stating that any tax refund I get will be going to the City of Oakland. That is when I started feeling a little irate."

Los Angeles, for example, accused him of illegally parking a blue Ford, a silver Hyundai, a blue Chrysler and a blue Chevy truck, all with the same license plate. The city responded to an appeal letter by claiming, "After a careful review of the citation listed below, it has been determined that the information on the citation substantially coincides with that provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles.... Payment is now due."

Oakland demanded a $35 payment before an in-person appeal hearing could be scheduled. Vautier paid the amount, and never received a date for the court hearing. Instead, the hearing was held in his absence and one ticket was dismissed. They kept the $35 and retained their demand for another $1000.



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