Where did you park your car nine years ago today? It’s a question most people would likely not be able to answer—but that isn’t stopping the City of Fort Lauderdale from sending almost-decade old parking tickets. And some people are paying because this parking ticket fiasco is hard to beat.
Howard Shoelson was in disbelief when he got a parking ticket from the City of Fort Lauderdale.
“The issue date was April 22, 2006. I go, ‘it’s almost 9 years ago.’” Shoelson said. Nine years is a long time. President George W. Bush was in office in 2006. The Miami Heat appeared in their first NBA Finals. MySpace was immensely popular and Facebook had just started. Shoelson remembers all that… but a parking ticket? “I don’t know who does. Especially in parking,” he said.
So Shoelson decided to call the city to find out what was going on. The clerk on the other end surprised Shoelson.
“And he goes, ‘and?’ And I say, ‘what do you mean and?’ And he says, ‘well we just sent out a whole bunch of those,’” Shoelson said. He didn’t think it was right. “It’s right and wrong. And I thought I was right and I’m going to fight this,” he said. Right and wrong matters a lot to Shoelson, he said. “Oh big time. I was a police officer 31 years in Miami-Dade. Retired almost two years ago and I think, yeah, it’s a big deal. And I think everyone has their day in court,” explained Shoelson.
But he would be disappointed, again. The hearing officer asked for proof he didn’t park his car illegally. “She said you are considered guilty until you can prove that you did not commit this violation.” So guilty, until proven innocent, Sutta asked him. “Pretty much,” Shoelson said. He didn’t even know where the violation had happened until he appeared in the hearing. In fact, he had just seconds to see the actual ticket he had been issued before being found guilty. He went to appeal his case, but stopped when he saw the fee. “$400 to fight a $50 ticket. And if I win, I save $50 but I’m out $400?” And with that he paid the ticket. Shoelson still shakes his head in disbelief, “I don’t understand.”
CBS4 inquired about the ticket. It took weeks to get a response from the city manager and then a spokesperson. They explained they are using new technology and “this advanced technology allows license plates to be more accurately matched with valid drivers’ registrations. In some cases, this means that notifications are being sent out for older tickets that have been in our system, but previously, were unable to be matched to a registration.” The spokesman went on to say there is “no statute of limitations on parking tickets.”
“I’ve been here for 25 years. Same house. Same address.” Shoelson said they may have a new car, but still have the same license plate. Shoelson thinks it’s a scam and he wonders how many others are paying.
“I think most of the people who are getting a notice are just going to pay it. Who’s going to take the time… especially in Florida… it’s a tourist town.” he said.
We wanted to know how many people are getting these older parking tickets and how much Fort Lauderdale is collecting but the city took months to get back to us despite numerous inquiries.