Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

NYC Tosses $26M in Parking Tickets on a Technicality

When most people hear of a defendant 'getting off on a technicality,' they think of it in a pejorative sense, assuming a criminal is going unpunished because of some fancy lawyering or a quirk in the law. But those technicalities are there for a reason.

"It's really important for us to be fair," Jeffrey Shear, New York City's Deputy Department of Finance Commissioner for Treasury and Payment Service told 1010 WINS. Shear was announcing the dismissal of over 500,000 parking tickets -- costing the city around $26 million -- all on a technicality.

Defective and Dismissed

Thousands of NYC drivers got an early Christmas present in the mail from the Department of Finance that read:

"We are writing to inform you that a change in the New York City Traffic Rules, the summons(es) issued to your vehicle(s) for either failing to display a parking meter receipt or displaying a parking meter receipt while parked in a parking meter zone contained an error and will be administratively dismissed."

The error was minor: a misprint in the statute number pertaining to the violation. The violation code for failing to display a Muni Meter receipt (or having an expired receipt) had changed from traffic rule section 4-08h10 to section 4-08h1. But that one-digit change meant the wrong violation code appeared on the issued tickets, rendering them defective according to department officials.

Ticket Technicalities

To correct the error, the Department of Finance dismissed 106,808 tickets worth around $8 million and issued 400,860 refunds to the tune of about $18 million. "We are crediting your account for the amount paid," the letter to those ticketed with the code number reads. "If you have no outstanding parking ticket judgments, a refund check for the amount you paid will be sent to you."

We're guessing a whole lot of New Yorkers are more fond of legal technicalities now.

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