No ticket while getting your ticket

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New legislation is aiming to please drivers by “parking” many of their muni-meter tickets.

The City Council recently passed a bill that will spare commuters the stress of receiving a parking ticket while retrieving their muni-meter receipt. Prior to the bill, if a driver presented a valid receipt to a traffic enforcement agent, there was no way for the agent to revoke the ticket.

The legislation, which was introduced by Councilmember James Gennaro, requires a ticket to be cancelled if a valid receipt is shown no later than five minutes after the issuance of the violation. The canceled ticket would read, “Valid muni-meter receipt shown, ticket canceled,” and would include the number printed on the muni-meter receipt — sparing drivers the inconvenience of appealing the ticket by appearing in court.

“New York City drivers feel enough anxiety every day already without having to worry about getting a ticket while they’re walking to the muni-meter,” Gennaro said. “By ensuring that premature violations are canceled if a receipt is shown within five minutes of the ticket being written, my bill will bring a little peace of mind to residents who are trying to do the right thing and pay for their parking.”

The bill was co-sponsored by Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who also supported approved legislation declaring the presentation of a valid muni-meter receipt as a viable defense for the failure to display the voucher on a dashboard.

“It’s absurd to think that they could place a muni-meter a half block from where you’ve parked, force you to walk to obtain a receipt, and then ticket you as you’re returning to your car — but it happens,” Vallone said. “Once again, we had to write legislation to combat something that should never have been occurring in the first place.”

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, praised the bill for the positive effects it will have on small businesses.

“Allowing a ticket to be canceled upon the showing of a valid receipt no later than five minutes after the issuance of the ticket is both fair and reasonable,” Friedman said in a letter to Gennaro. “Before the introduction of this law, even people attempting to comply with the law were penalized. Small business owners have enough to contend with in today’s economy. Scaring consumers from metered spots certainly didn’t help.”

Drivers shared feelings of frustration that the legislation was not in place from the start, while also expressing relief for no longer being at risk of receiving an unjustified ticket.

“It has been a horror because I have received a couple tickets while I was walking to the meter,” said Antonietta Mandione, a Bayside resident. “I tried to fight them in court and I never won. I always had to pay the ticket, and it wasn’t fair. If it is raining or snowing someone could slip, and I have to drag my kids with me and run back to my car. The parking agents are fast in giving out tickets. This new law will save us a lot of time in running to the meter. It is going to be a big improvement because we won’t have to kill ourselves to get back to the car. The city [didn’t have this law from the beginning] because it wants to collect more money from us.”