Found In the Woods

March 7, 2006

I fought the law and the law won… more or less

Filed under: Blogging — bsullivan @ 1:35 pm

MoCo Park Police is teh suck! I got a parking ticket back in January for parking after sunset in the Bethesda Pool overflow lot on Little Falls Pkwy. in Bethesda. The ticket was an exorbitant $50. My gut instinct was to fight the power. I mean, I’d parked there for years and never had a problem – even after dark. So I mailed in my ticket choosing for a trial. I wasn’t going to go without a fight.

Then I realized (shortly after) that not only was I going to have to take a half day of work to go to court, but I would have to spend time preparing my case (if you can call it that). All for a $50 ticket. I convinced myself that it was all about principle and the money was irrelevant. Well, after today’s court appearance, I wish I’d bit the bullet and paid the fine just to get it over with.

I was there for an hour and change before they called my case. The judge was nice and very professional throughout the day. I was terribly nervous (I think because it was my first time before a judge) and did, what I thought, was a pretty good job stating my case. The crux of my argument was:

  1. 1) I was using a MoCo Parks lot.
  2. 2) On the Capitol Crescent Trail website it states that the trail is owned & run by MoCo and that the trail is open to commuters after dark.
  3. 3) The parking lot is listed as approved by the CCT as a parking lot for trail users.

The officer pointed out that the lot was not a “commuter” parking lot. The judge asked if the sign there states this. She said yes. Well, at this point I was screaming inside because I had planned on driving over to the lot to snap pics of the signs but just figured that I wouldn’t need them since I already had the materials I thought I’d need to make my case. Now I’m going to go over there and take pictures just on principle to see if it really does state that. In all my memory, I’ve never seen verbage on the sign that states it is not for commuter use.

Anyway, that’s most of the story. The judge found me “guilty” but was nice enough to lower the fine to $15, but tacked on the court costs of $22.50. Add the $6.50 credit card processing fee (COMPLETE BULLSHIT) and I ended up paying $44. The original ticket was only $6 more. In principle, I did what was right. In actuality I’ve learned my lesson and next time those wankers leave a ticket on my car I’m going to tear it up and… I mean, pay the fine and be on my way.

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