10/12/2016Louisiana: Inspector General Identifies 8900 Bogus Parking Tickets
Inspector general for New Orleans, Louisiana documents 8900 cases of innocent motorists receiving parking tickets every year.
Meter maids in New Orleans, Louisiana issue over 8900 bogus parking tickets to innocent motorists every year. The city's inspector general, Ed Quatrevaux, raised the alarm Tuesday in a brief report to local officials.
"Most of the mistakes occurred when parking enforcement officers (PEOs) entered incorrect license plate numbers or letters onto citations that they placed on violating vehicles," the inspector general's office explained in a statement. "That meant people not involved in parking violations received citations in error and were responsible for all payments, fines, and late fees."
As a common example, Quatrevaux included an incident from April in which a minivan with a license plate beginning with the letters "YHU" was illegally parked. The meter maid typed "YUH" into the license plate field of the ticket, which meant an innocent vehicle owner received late notices for a citation that he never received and for a violation that he did not commit. Such mistakes can result in an innocent owner's car being booted or towed. The report noted that about 4000 tickets are dismissed annually because of license plate mismatches.
Falsely accused motorists can contest citations, but the report also found that 3000 tickets contained bogus information about how to do so. In many instances, drivers were given hearing dates that had already passed, or that were several years in the future.
"In fact, citizens have said that they received citations where the hearing date was scheduled prior to the date of issuance," Quatrevaux explained. "The hearing date errors were traced to PEOs manually entering the wrong hearing dates into their handheld citation devices."
On top of these mistakes, 1900 tickets are improperly issued annually to fleet vehicles owned by UPS, FedEx and various restaurant supply companies.
"These vehicles are allowed to stop briefly without charge at an empty metered spot so that they can make a delivery," Quatrevaux wrote. "Parking enforcement management was unaware of the fact that the administrative hearing center dismissed all parking citations issued to fleet vehicles parked at metered spots."
The inspector general was especially concerned by the $190,000 in revenue lost pursuing bogus citations. Each dismissal cost about $25, accounting for the hourly rate of the meter maids and hearing officers who have to show up to each challenge. The report recommends simple software changes to prevent the mistakes from happening in the future.
"No late notifications should be sent when the make and model do not match," Quatrevaux wrote. "The parking management vendor should automatically void any parking citation where the information entered on the citation does not match the Division of Motor Vehicles information returned for the license plate number shown on the citation."
A copy of the report is available in a 2mb PDF file at the source link below.