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New York Protects Drivers from Electronic Parking Meters
New York legislature gives motorists a five-minute grace period to avoid a parking ticket at electronic meters.

The New York state legislature yesterday gave final passage to legislation intended to reduce the number of citations given by meter maids exploiting a window of opportunity created by electronic parking meters. Called "muni-meters," the new style of parking meter requires motorists to get out of their vehicle, walk to a kiosk that dispenses a timed receipt, and display that slip of paper on the car's dashboard. A citation can be issued in the time it takes to complete these steps.

"There have been numerous reported instances of predatory ticketing practices by traffic agents and unfair convictions by administrative law judges," the legislative summary of S6727B explains. "One example is in some cases motorists need to walk down the block to find the nearest muni-meter, opening a window when a traffic agent can issue a summons before they even purchase their muni-meter receipt. These convictions have been successfully appealed in most instances but the process of appealing the case is daunting and can take months to resolve."

The muni-meters themselves were introduced as a means of boosting revenue by encouraging motorists to pay for parking time that they end up not using. Under the traditional coin-operated parking model, unused time at a meter could be used by the next driver who pulled into the spot. With muni-meters or "pay and display" systems, the clock resets to zero after the motorist drives off. Last year, the devices helped New York City pull in $156,914,157 in meter revenue last year. This amount is dwarfed, however, by the $570,165,484 in parking ticket revenue collected in 2011.

If signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (D), drivers in New York City, Buffalo and other jurisdictions that use muni-meters could automatically beat a parking ticket by challenging the ticket at a hearing and producing a valid receipt for the location with a time stamp "prior to or up to five minutes thereafter from the issuance of the summons." The law would apply to all tickets, including those that are handwritten, but it would in practice be most effective against those written on an electronic device that time stamps each citation. These account for 85 percent of the tickets issued in New York City.

The city council in the Big Apple adopted a similar measure in March over the veto of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The main difference is that the municipal ordinance requires a meter maid to cancel the ticket on the spot when presented with a valid meter receipt, avoiding the court challenge that would take place under the state law.

A copy of the bill is available in a 40k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File S6727b (New York Legislature, 6/20/2012)

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