Read about the winner of our Worst Parking Ticket Story contest -- and my fight for justice

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Update: We asked for your crazy parking ticket stories, Denver, and you delivered! But alas, only one story can win a $25 Smart Card -- and that story was penned by Harvey, whose meter-maid ex-wife liberally exercised her ticket-writing powers, post-divorce.

See below for Harvey's full story -- and read the comments for lots more! As a bonus, check out the latest in my own ticket saga.

First, here's Harvey's tale of love (and parking tickets) lost:

My ex-wife is a parking enforcement officer. Just after our divorce, she kept driving by the house and writing me parking tickets for parking more than 18 inches from the curb. It's a judgment call, so it's hard to fight, but by the third ticket I'd had enough. I brought copies of all three tickets in to fight the last one, and explained the circumstances of our relationship. The magistrate questioned her on how she could tell it was over 18 inches without any frame of reference. She just said, "I know 18 inches when I see it"... and I responded, "well, that explains our divorce." We all looked at each other and started laughing. Ticket dismissed.

As for my ticket, which was waiting on my windshield when I emerged from a LoDo bar in a haze of karaoke glory (see all the glorious details below), it hasn't been dismissed -- yet.

This morning, I visited a parking magistrate in the Wellington Webb Building, 201 West Colfax Avenue. After taking a paper ticket from a red dispenser of the type usually found at deli counters, I had a seat. Though the lobby was crowded, I barely waited five minutes before my number was called.

Standing before the parking magistrate, who was seated behind a high desk, I explained my situation. If it's true that the meter wouldn't accept money past 10 p.m., he said, it may be broken. He promised to investigate and handed me a form to fill out.

The form asked for my license plate number, ticket number and address. In the section labeled "Citizen's Statement," I wrote my side of the story (sans karaoke details). The magistrate explained that I now must wait thirty days for a response in the mail. I'll be sure to update you, dear readers, when I hear back.

After turning in the form, which the clerk stamped in a very official way, I walked across the lobby to the parking ticket cashier's counter to pay another ticket, one I'd gotten a few days later for parking in front of my house on street-sweeping day. That one, I'm guilty of.

Original item, Thursday, June 23: Getting a parking ticket sucks. Especially if you don't know why.

Do you have an annoying, confusing or downright bad-luck parking ticket story? Write it in the comment section below. We'll pick the best one and award the winner a $25 Smart Card, good for any Smart Meter. Park on, Denverites! But first, check out my weird story.

Earlier this month, I was at a LoDo bar near 22nd and Larimer streets, rocking the karaoke. I'd arrived at 8:30 p.m. and found a parking spot right in front of the bar. Hello, VIP! Always a law-abiding citizen, I inserted my credit card into the Smart Meter belonging to my parking spot and enthusiastically pushed the + key.

A sticker on the meter said payment was required until 10 p.m. -- and sure enough, the Smart Meter wouldn't take more than an hour and a half worth of money. Satisfied that I'd done my civic duty, I headed into the bar, where I wowed the crowd with renditions of "Ice Ice Baby" and "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

When I emerged from the bar three hours later, after fighting my way through a throng of adoring fans, I found a little yellow envelope beneath my windshield wiper. What, what? I thought. I paid the meter! But not according to the ticket.

"Flashing Expired," it said by way of explanation. The time on the ticket was 10:17 p.m. My fine? $25.

smart-card-denver.jpg
The person with the worst parking injustice story gets this card. Leave a comment below.
How can that be? The meter wouldn't accept money after 10 p.m.! Confused, I jumped online and wound up on the city's "Know Parking" website. (Get it? It's a joke.) I knew that Denver City Council had recently approved overnight parking downtown, but I wasn't sure of the exact rules. I clicked on "Parking Downtown," which redirected me to the Downtown Denver Partnership's website -- which apparently hasn't been updated in quite some time. That site still notes that parking between 2 and 6 a.m. is prohibited.

Luckily, the "Know Parking" website also lists directions for how to contest a ticket -- directions I intend to follow.

Because misery loves company. And because we want to know about other parking mysteries in Denver, leave a comment with your story below. Please remember to include your e-mail address in the e-mail field (we won't share it with anyone, promise) so we can contact you if you're the winner. Contest ends Monday, June 27, at 5 p.m.

More from our News archives: "Southwest rant: Pilot not wild about the idea that old bags fly free (VIDEO)."

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36 comments
Dollarchaser
Dollarchaser

denver has the worst parking in the country we have Three services which write tickets at all times of the night I got one at 1:30am. It is just rediculous.

I Love Meter Maids
I Love Meter Maids

Her name is Heather.

It was a late and snowy night -  the evening before Thanksgiving, actually. 

I was down on my luck. 

My boss had just fired me from my $8.00 an hour kitchen job because of 'my inability to pay attention' (I was drunk a lot back then).  To make matters worse, on my way home from being fired to my shitty one-room apartment where I was three months overdue on rent, my car ran out of gas in the middle of down-fucking-town. 

I coasted to the closest open spot on 14th and Arapahoe and left the car there as I began my trek for a gas station.  I had $20 in my pocket. I found an open station on Colfax near Auraria and bought a $5 gas jug and $6 in gas, which gave me enough for a couple beers and a dollar tip at the bar on my walk back.

I found a friendly bartender who spotted me a few shots and I was feeling pretty good when I turned the corner to retrieve my car.

Then I spotted her.

That bitch was on her third yellow ticket when I got to my car.

"What the bloody fuck?" I asked (yelled).

"You have expired plates, you are parked too far away from the curb and your meter has expired,"  she scoffed, unmoved by my anger.

I stepped closer.

"I just got fired from my job, I ran out of gas, its the night before Thanksgiving and I'm drunk," I pleaded.  "Give me a break!"

"Can't do that sir," she grinned.  "You broke three laws!"

I went for it.  I was so pissed off I ran towards her.

As she grabbed for her mace, I reached her arm and held it back.  She cross-checked me with a sucker punch to my face.  I punched her in the gut and the fight was on.

We rolled around in the snow.  Not a soul in sight.  I was so God damned drunk, I was laughing at this absurd situation I was finding myself in. 

Yet as we shoved, screamed, rolled and tried to dominate each other, the only thing I could think was that she was the most beautiful women I'd ever seen in my life.

What the hell. 

I relaxed, gave in and let her roll on top of me to give her the impression SHE was in control.  As she did, I overpowered her and grabbed her by the back of her head and pulled her close and locked my lips on her.

To my surprise, she kissed me back!  It was the most incredible moment of my life!

I let her loose and she rolled over on her back and we both looked at the stars twinkling in the Denver night, laughing our heads off.

We got up and kept laughing.  She was just getting off her shift and we walked and talked until dawn. 

I didn't have any plans for the next day (Thanksgiving) as my family was in Nebraska.  She was also alone.  We watched the Macy's Day Parade at my house, took a long nap and made our way to Queen Soopers and ate Turkey pot pies, Bordeaux, Coors Light and pumpkin pie while watching Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang.

On May 15, 2001, we celebrated our 20th Wedding Anniversary.  She's the light of my life.  She helped me gain sobriety and is the mother of our three children.

Who's to say meter maids don't offer anything to society?

Guest
Guest

I actually have a nice story. I was at an hour meter and my meeting ran long and I ran back to my car after about an hour and 3 mins. Meter maid was there, just pulling out her pen and writing down my license number (this was before the computerized tickets). I started to protest, looked at the meter, it was clearly expired. I said "Ah, you're right. I blew it. Go ahead and write me up." She looked at me and said "That's the first nice thing anyone has said to me all day." She tore up the ticket on the spot and drove on. I felt really bad for her if that's the nicest thing she heard all day.

Janemcgillem
Janemcgillem

I got a ticket for $75 one evening at 5:30 pm because my license plate was expired and it was just past the date of the grace period. Yes, this is admittedly my fault and even though the city did not send the reminder letter that it is supposed to, I figured it was one of those bummer situations that I could do nothing but kick myself over and take care of it first thing in the morning when the DMV opens (because after 5 pm, there was nothing I could do to make it right). But here is the real kicker--- 1 hour later, I move my car and park somewhere near my house and then walk to get dinner in the neighborhood. I come back out to my car to find ANOTHER ticket--$75, same reason, SAME officer. Seriously? Do they not have a system in place to track that they have already given me a ticket for this issue? It's one thing if they ticket me and then one week later find me driving with an expired plate... but come on--really? The first $75 ticket was a great reminder that I needed to renew my license plate, but when you issue said reminder at 5:30 pm and then don't allow 24 hours before issuing another ticket? Makes no sense. So after the anger presided, I went the the DMV the next morning and had everything taken care of by 9:00 am. I then sent in a letter to the Denver Parking Violations Bureau explaining the situation and I included photo copies of my records to show that I had taken swift action to get renew my license plate along with a respectful, and reasonable I might add, request that they drop the second ticket. After taking their sweet time to "review my case" I get a letter in the mail saying my request was DENIED! This just seems so inefficient and wrong!

granola@ss
granola@ss

I am a Denver resident but I frequently travel to Kansas City, MO for my job.  There is a lovely shopping center near the airport called Zona Rosa  (copy this link for their parking policy: http://www.zonarosa.com/inform...

if you want to park next to the stores, as opposed to the parking garages you park & pay at the meter.  The proceeds from the meter go to charitable organizations.  Sounds fine to me and I would hate for my rant to change their policy but if your meter runs out you must pay the $5 fine.  Charity should go both ways right?  I just have a HUGE problem with this  AND i wouldn't want my charitable donation to go something like a. a kill shelter b. groups who's beliefs preach hate (this Zona Rosa is in the Bible Belt).  I think the intentions and heart are good here but I would rather park my hybrid car in the garage and walk my granola @ss to the store than park next to a deer killing, squirrel squashing, fuel guzzling,  Chevy Suburban and subject my "charity" to a fine.  Stick it to passing the buck in this situation!  UGH!

Eric
Eric

Walked out of a restaurant and had 6 minutes left on my meter. Walked up the block to grab something and got back about 7 minutes later. Ticket on my car, ticket writer already there and long gone.

Marin
Marin

I also had my car towed from in front of my house while I was out of town once - I thought it had been stolen. When I called the police to report it, they told me the car had actually been towed because you aren't allowed to park for more than 72 hours on any Denver street. I had to pay towing fee, about $80 a day storage fee at the city lot PLUS a ticket for parking for more than 72 hours in one spot.

Marin
Marin

For five years, I lived on the 2300 block of Hooker, which is in the Invesco Field permit parking zone. The last NFL season I lived there, I parked in my usual spot during pre-season on a Monday night when the Broncos were playing. Not only did I have a brand new, visible permit, the parking sign clearly said, "Permit parking only Sundays from 10am-6pm, September through December." It was August. On a Monday. And I had a permit.

I disputed the ticket and sent a photo of the sign (per their request), but they said they had to send someone out to confirm. By the time they confirmed I was right and dropped the issue, they had sent my ticket to collections.

TMSF
TMSF

I parked at 4th and Lincoln on a Saturday evening infront of my friends house..it was Memorial Day weekend so my car was okay to stay there until Tuesday morning. However, I ended up loosing my only pair of car keys over the weekend so my car ended up getting towed. The city towed my car to a "safer spot" that happened to be on the street sweeping side of the street the very next day. So when I finally figured out where my car was, I had a ticket for parking 2+ hours on Lincoln, a towing fine, and a street sweeping ticket :(

Brian Melton
Brian Melton

I work at a restaurant downtown. I'm there four to six days a week. Let's just say I've had my fair share of parking tickets...but here's a couple of good ones.

Story A) I was downtown with a friend of mine who had just broken up with his girlfriend of two years. They were living together and she decided that she had had enough of his shit and moved out. I had been working that evening, so I met him at a bar on Wynkoop, the new one in the Ice House...I can't remember it right now for the life of me. We both knew the bartender, turned out, from past work, so we pushed the 2 p.m. mark, me watching as my bud took shot after shot to drown his sorrows.

At around 1:55 we decided to leave. He was in sway mode and desperately needed to pee/puke/whatever. We headed out to my car that was right across the street and I noticed that a meter maid was curbed beside my truck. I told my bud to stay there and I ran over to him as fast as I could. "Hey!" I yelled, "What are you doing? It's not even two yet!"

"It's 2:02." He looked at me coolly.

When I tried to explain to him that I was waiting on a drunk friend and that I was taking him home, the man's reply. "Sorry. I just hit print."

Story B) This one could be the story to end all stories, although it did happen two years ago, so it's a little dated.

I was just getting out of class at CU Denver and was rushing back to my meter. Yeah, I knew that parking in a 2 hr spot was pushing it by about 15 minutes, but what are the odds that a meter maid would be going by exactly during that time??

Well the odds were good. I had a ticket on my dash. But after closer examination, I noticed I had TWO tickets on my dash. One for the meter, and one for not having my plates renewed. I was waiting for the stickers to come in the mail. I was a little frazzled and more than a little pissed. So I headed home to get out my check book and to make a call to the renewal office.

On the way home my head was in the clouds, pissed about those plate stickers. I'd need to call or go by the DMV, and no one likes to do that. The crying babies, the smell. Sitting there trying to read a book and take your mind off the hell that is those 4 walls while hearing the incessant *ding* of the NOW SERVING sign and someone hacking up a lung. I'd gotten my emissions test right? Properly filled out the check and sent it in with my proof of insurance/ Why hadn't those stickers arrived? What was I going to have for dinner?

Then I heard the siren.

I'd been caught doing 50 in a 35. Another ticket. And I tried explaining that expired piece of paper to the man in blue. "You'll just have to get this revoked when they arrive." Another ticket.

Four in an hour. That could be a Guiness Record.

addcrafter
addcrafter

I pulled up at a meter in LoDo, on my way to meet friends for lunch. The parking enforcement officer was right there, I assumed ticketing the car in back of me at a dual meter.  I got out of the car, and joked with the guy, "I hope you are not giving me a ticket - I just pulled up here," as he was so intent on his litle hand-held ticket maker that maybe he didn't notice. The guy yelled at me, "DON'T TOUCH ME! If you touch me that's assault and I'll call the cops."  At this point I was still like 6 feet away from the dude. OK....I advised him I only wanted to pay for my parking, when he reiterated not to touch him, and that he was going to call the cops on me, I didn't even verbally assault the dude (oh the fine semantics of law). I again told him that I'd like to pay for parking, and that he was in front of the meter, and I'd have to get closer to him in order to obey the law.  He once more told me not to touch him, and that a lot of people touch him.  Really, not in my lunch plans, sorry dude. I did finally get to pay, and I had a wonderful lunch with friends, and had a nice story.I'm a really non-confrontational person - ok - I'm a total wuss, so I just can't imagine if he had said this stuff to someone like my husband who can be a total ass to that type of attitude. I have a feeling I'd be spending my lunch money on attorney's fees.

Harvey
Harvey

My ex-wife is a parking enforcement officer.  Just after our divorce she kept driving by the house and writing me parking tickets for parking more than 18 inches from the curb.  It's a judgment call, so it's hard to fight, but by the third ticket I'd had enough.  I brought copies of all three tickets in to fight the last one, and explained the circumstances of our relationship.  The magistrate questioned her on how she could tell it was over 18 inches without any frame of reference.  She just said, "I know 18 inches when I see it"...and I responded, "well, that explains our divorce."  We all looked at each other and started laughing.  Ticket dismissed.

Stinky
Stinky

I was in Boulder the other day doing some jogging around the Yoga festival. When all of a sudden I had bowel movement 'urge'. Seeing a line of porta-potties I quickly dashed into one. It being a Yoga festival I decide to try the Fire Log Pose for the releasing of my built-up 'energy'. UNFORTUNATELY, while doing this pose, I slipped into the sewage tank below. Being at one-with-the-universe I realized my situation and then tried to meditate on a solution to this shitty situation.... While contemplating my crappy fate I was awakened by a bright light and a female voice that sounded agast. Within a minute it took me to unwind from the Fire log pose I was in another person came into the porta-potty - they saw my pediment and immediately fled. I then summed up enough strength to lift myself outta the tank. Being covered in feces and urine I then fled back home w/o talking to anyone along the way...  This is my shittiest parking story....

Amy Hibbeln
Amy Hibbeln

I got a $75 parking ticket on my birthday when I was camping in Rocky Mountain National Park for parking overnight in a lot that didn't allow overnight parking. It wasn't posted, so I took pictures of all the signs in the parking lot and decided to fight it in court. Since it was a national park I had to go to Federal Court. My appointed lawyer looked at my pictures and spoke to the present park ranger and told me that one of the signs I took a picture of(I had apparently only gotten the back of it and not the front) could have been the sign that posted the "No overnight parking" it was clearly a handicap parking spot sign. I was told I had a case, but because It wasn't something I could go to jail for I would have to pay for my own lawyer to persue the case which would far exceed the cost of the ticket, I could pay the $75 or do a plea bargain and pay $35. While she was telling me this I realized that my current meter was about to run out, so I quickly did the plea bargain and ran to move my car. No ticket that time, but what a rip off RMNP

Sarah R
Sarah R

I was taking my parents to Cherry Creek. We found a great parking spot right by the store we wanted to go to. I asked my mom to read the parking sign, and all we could read from where we were (giant tree was blocking the rest of the sign) was "no parking Tuesday nights...Street Sweeping". Okay, so we park. We get out to make sure that the lower sign would still allow us to park, and as we are reading the sign, the lady comes up and gives us a ticket! We were 25ft away from the car! I run over to make her stop, and it was straight out of Parking Wars, sorry ma'am, but the ticket was already written, after asking her if she saw us standing next to the sign, reading it.....remind me why I went to Cherry Creek in the first place?!

clevername
clevername

Once upon a time, my car was parked in front of my house (in Five Points). At some point, somebody parked in front of my car, only a few feet ahead of it. Fine. Later on, however, I began to get in my car and saw that I had a ticket, strange to me because it wasn't a sweeping day. After a closer look, I was appalled to find that my ticket was a $75 one for no front plate. 

I HAVE A FRONT PLATE. My plate frame is over to one side, but it's pretty damn obvious. Goddamn genius probably didn't even bother to get out of his car before writing me a hefty ticket, which I ended up shelling out the cash for because, well, I had a job, and wasn't about to lose money and make my manager mad so that I could go to court to fight a completely illegitimate ticket. I wish I had saved that ticket so that I could tell everyone the name of the moron who set me back $75 because he didn't have the energy to so much as glance at the front of my car.

Cindy Hill
Cindy Hill

I got a parking ticket in April - while I was out of state! My car wasn't parked anywhere near where they said I got the ticket, the only reason I knew I'd gotten ticketed at all was because I got the late notice (with an extra $50 late fee tacked on for a grand total of $100) in the mail. The only way I got out of it was by printing out my travel itinerary and a map of where I live and where my car supposedly got the ticket (like, 6 blocks from my house!) and then begging the parking magistrate to see reason. It's tough to prove a negative, but I got lucky and prevailed.

Leahbeth40
Leahbeth40

I have to say that I live downtown & my friend who lives in the mtns. just came to see me after 3 months and we realized on our walk home from drinking that we were out of meter time & I swore to her she would have a ticket even though it had only been about 20 min. and she did NOT have one. I was/am in a state of shock. So I'm thankful this time b/c I always get one w/in 10 min.That was indeed a rant. It should have been broken down into multiple sentences, but like I said I just got home from drinking. At the Rio.

kgparker
kgparker

I parked in Cherry Creek, in what I thought was a loading zone. I was in the post office for less than 2 minutes when I saw the meter maid at my car. I ran out to tell her I was right there, signing my receipt but she didn't care. $25 ticket

Aimelessonee
Aimelessonee

So after a nice long Sunday at the bar with my boyfriend's mom I didn't feel anywhere close to sober enough to make the 15 minute drive home. Rather than risk killing someone or having to pay thousands of dollars for a DUI, we did the right thing and called a friend who came and picked us up. I've left my car parked there a few times before, so I didn't think it was a big deal. The next day I walked about a mile to the bus station, which took about an hour and a half to get me remotely close to my car. I walk for another 20 minutes and finally get back to the bar. I get to my car and I see the yellow ticket under my wiper. It says that I was there for more than three hours. Confused, since it is a common parking lot for several places and I've parked there several times, I look for a sign. It was only at the entrance to the parking lot and it had been blocked from view by an RV. It said 3 hour parking Monday through Friday from 8 am until 7 pm. So basically, even though I did the right thing by not drinking and driving, I still had to pay a $25 ticket.

Aurora Arlet
Aurora Arlet

A very expensive Bike to Work Day

I decided to do my part and reduce my carbon footprint by participating in "Bike to Work Day" and how am I rewarded? I came home to find a parking ticket on my car. With all the excitement of not touching my car all day, II had forgotten it was Street Sweeping Day on our side of the street.  Price of reducing carbon emissions = $50!

Steve Montiel
Steve Montiel

I was also in LoDo going to a concert. The meter I parked at also had the sticker indicating metered parking ended at 10pm. It was 952. The meter did not have a credit card slot and I didn't have any change. I had seen the parking truck pass me when I turned down the street so I assumed they were done for the night so I took my chances and left the meter unpaid. When I got back to my truck after the show, there was a ticket under my wiper. Time of the ticket was 958. He circled around the block and wrote me a ticket with two minutes left until the parking was free.

Teamodog
Teamodog

My daughter parked downtown in a legitimate parking spot, and paid for 2 hours as shown on the meter.  When she returned an hour and a half later, her car had a ticket on it, and all the meters in the block were bagged as a no parking zone.  She had to go to court to fight that one.

Guest
Guest

if some one is lucky enough. once in their life a moment will come along that can change everything. this guy had the sense (being drunk probably helped) to do what he felt in his heart and then hang on for dear life. congrats 

What
What

Don't forget the State's (or is it county--Denver) charge of $25/month for renewing late

What
What

Don't forget the State's (or is it county--Denver) charge of $25/month for renewing late

Stinky's mom
Stinky's mom

Gee....that would have been really clever if it had anything to do with parking tickets.

JM
JM

I got a ticket for having no front plate too. The annoying thing though was that I never had a ticket on my car and didn't know I got a ticket until I received the late notice.

Guest
Guest

Like the ticket people were supposed to know you were trying to do the right thing by not drinking and driving? Right.

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