Parking-Court Confessions

Haskell Nussbaum is a former New York City parking-violations judge, and he just wrote a book called Beat That Parking Ticket, on how to, well, beat a parking ticket. Problem is, Nussbaum’s treatise doesn’t come out till the end of November — and you forgot to move your car this morning. Daily Intel to the rescue! We spoke to the judge yesterday, and he gave some time-honored tips for finagling your way out of a summons.

We just happen to have a ticket right here for an expired meter. Any advice?
Have you looked at it to make sure everything is filled in correctly, like the license plate, location, stuff like that? Those are technicalities that often work.

Looking now, and it’s fine. Next?
Well, if you almost made the meter, the best defense is to question whether it was operational — because it could have been fast. Meters break down so often, and almost every meter in the city has an administrative repair history that’s several screens long.

That’s funny, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a meter being repaired.
[A pause, then a giggle.] Now that you mention it, me neither. But they say they do it, a lot. Anyway, if you ask for your meter’s record to be checked and it turns out to be pretty spotty, the judge may just throw the ticket out.

Can I check it myself, like against my watch?
Not unless you videotaped it and then asked some poor judge to watch it, which he wouldn’t.

It sounds like you didn’t like your job much — how long did you stay there, six months? Was it like Groundhog Day, hearing the same excuses over and over?
Kind of, yeah. I mean, it was interesting at first, but it gets to the point where you’re just like, “C’mon, can’t you think of a better excuse than that?”

So what’s a really weak excuse?
People are always coming in and saying things like, “This ticket says I was eight feet from a hydrant, but I measured it and I was a good ten feet away!” Right, but the law says you have to be fifteen feet away. Then there’s the “I had to go to the bathroom really bad!” Basically, that’s not our problem.

So what do you do when you have to pee and can’t find a space?
I guess I’d tell people to go for the least expensive ticket you can find, like a meter or a no-parking rather than a no-standing zone.

Obviously your career in parking violations is tanked. Do you have any idea how your former colleagues feel about you, now that you’ve gone over to the dark side?
I don’t know what they’re saying, but I’d be thanking me. Now at least they won’t have to listen to the same lame excuses day in and day out.

Hope Reeves

Parking-Court Confessions