NJ drivers like to fight parking tickets — does it ever work?
Whether they feel they've been unjustly penalized, or they're just confident they can exploit some loophole in the system, drivers in New Jersey are among the most likely in the nation to fight a parking ticket, according to a new survey.
Unfortunately, the chances of actually succeeding are likely worse here than in other states.
In a Car Bibles survey of 3,500 drivers, 18 percent of New Jersey motorists said they've appealed a parking ticket. That's higher than the rates posted in more than half of the 50 states.
David Polsky, an attorney in Totowa, said he's seen judges "throw tickets out," but that's a rare occasion.
"They're difficult to beat," Polsky said.
Unlike most matters in court, parking violations do not need to be proven, Polsky said. As long as you're the owner of the vehicle with the alleged violation, you're guilty — unless you somehow have proof that you weren't in the wrong.
"If you know that you're right ... and your ticket was issued improperly, then you should go to court and the judge would be quite understanding," he said. "But if that's not the case and you're trying to get out on a loophole or a technicality, it's not going to work."
Contrary to what many drivers may believe, your ticket is still valid if the officer who wrote it is not in the courtroom on the day you appear.
And, unlike in other states, New Jersey judges have the power to amend a summons if it turns out the officer recorded the wrong details of your vehicle, such as the make and model. Even if the wrong license plate number is recorded, Polsky said, the courts can still make the violation stick.
The "I never saw the ticket" or "the breeze must have taken it" excuses aren't valid either, he added.
At 5 percent, South Carolina posted the lowest rate of drivers who contest fines. Maryland led the country with a rate of 49 percent.
In the survey, 34 percent of Americans said they would struggle financially to pay a parking ticket. That may be a reason why so many people attempt to wiggle their way out of the violation.
If traveling to an unfamiliar city or venue, Polsky advises you take photos of your car and the surrounding area before walking away. The language of no-parking signs or the color of a curb can end up saving you some much-needed dough.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.