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Why did I get a parking ticket? New photo ticketing technology has the answer.

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Parking enforcement officers will now be taking pictures of parking infractions to answer the common question, “why did I get a ticket?” according to the city’s Department of Transportation spokeswoman Linda Tucker.

“We get a lot of calls every day and inquiries in our office, as well as people coming down to City Hall asking about why they got a ticket and wondering how they can contest the ticket,” Tucker said.

“We wanted to address those questions and concerns and be able to put that information online.”

The handheld ticketing device that the 50 state-employed parking enforcement officers currently use are also capable of taking pictures. With the help of a third party vendor in charge of the database of citations and internal IT support, the Department of Transportation was able to implement this new technology, and it won’t cost the city a penny.

“Putting a new computer service online is going to be a win-win for the city which is financially strapped right now and has fewer people to answer phone calls and inquiries,” Tucker said.

“Basically this allows those citizens and the revenue staff to make better use of everyone’s time by being able to access these options online,” she added.

Tucker said the officers will simply take a picture of the vehicle and license plate. If the ticket is for an expired meter, they will take a picture of the car in violation next to the expired meter. If the violation was for a pay-and-display sticker, the officer will take a picture of the car with the expired sticker and a timestamp will appear on the picture taken by a parking enforcement officer.

Mike Moore, 54, said he hasn’t had a parking ticket in years. His past tickets have been because expired time or not having paid a parking meter.

“I don’t have to park downtown very often, so I don’t have to deal with it that much.” Moore said. “I think it may be a little bit of an infringement on your privacy, but it’s definitely a deterrent for parking tickets though.”

The photos will be uploaded to www.sacpark.org by a staff member within 24 – 36 hours of when the ticket was issued. Those ticketed will be asked to enter their citation number and vehicle identification number. All necessary forms for payment options and ticket contesting can also be found on the website. No one else will be able to access the photo except the driver ticketed.

Twelve percent of the 225,000 tickets that are issued each year are contested, which equates to over 20,000 tickets, according to Tucker. And over 20,000 phone calls.

“We’ve always gone by the rule of thumb that we give the driver the benefit of the doubt, especially if the driver has not had a parking ticket ever in the city of Sacramento,” Tucker said.

“I would expect that if people see the picture that they would choose to go ahead, pay it, and be done with it.”

Xiong Her, 34, said he has never had a parking ticket, and he often relies on his monthly parking pass to insure that he does not get a ticket. He feels that the new ticketing policy is a good idea for the city.

“I think that’s a fine idea because there’s a lot of people that know they’re guilty and try to fight the charges just because.” Her said. “I think there’s going to be a lot more tickets. You can’t really disprove the photos.”

Tucker said she hopes that this will not only lower the amount of phone calls, ticket contesting, and time, but also lower the amount of tickets in general. Sacramento is one of 10 California cities to implement this new ticketing technology.

“I think it’s important for people to know that it’s not going to cost the city anything to implement this,” Tucker said. “It’s practically, with the exception of staff time, a no-cost upgrade to a service that I think will prove to be valuable for drivers to have, and convenient.”

Parking enforcement officers began using the new photo ticketing technology May 17th, according to Tucker. For more information about parking and the new ticketing procedure visit www.sacpark.org.

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