FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ) — Seeing a parking ticket on your windshield can ruin your day.
But as Suzanne Collins reports, in the city of Frederick, they may be able to turn that frown upside down.
The city of Frederick has a different breed of parking enforcement officer: reasonable and, more importantly, granted the authority to forgive tickets.
“They’re going to tell their friends, `Hey, I was in downtown Frederick, I messed up, I should have gotten a ticket and they let me off.’ That person’s going to tell the next person and say, `Hey, that sounds like a good place to go,’ so we get a lot of repeat business, we get a lot of new business,” said Mayor Randy McClement.
The mayor is thinking it’s good PR. Some Frederick taxpayers agree.
“If they are out-of-towners and they come here to shop and eat, I guess you could look at it as an investment, you know,” said resident Sean Pratt.
In 2010, the city of Frederick voided 1,023 tickets. That’s almost 20 a week. The mayor figures that cost about $35,000. But police, who also give tickets, say real abusers won’t get away with anything.
“If you come here with a willful intent to illegally park, you’re going to get a citation and you’re going to have to pay it,” said Lt. Clark Pennington.
There’s also another way to get out of a ticket in Frederick. If you get a parking ticket in Frederick and you take it to the parking office in 30 minutes, you don’t have to pay. You can do that three times in a year. That longstanding program cost the city another $39,000 last year.
Business people wish there were signs telling customers about the policies and also a way to pay without quarters.
“At Christmas time, people get upset because of the parking policies. They get frustrated because there’s no parking or have to have quarters and it makes them not want to come into the shops,” said Liz Omenhiser, Classic Cigars.
Forgiveness has been granted for confusion over parking rules, forgetting to hang handicapped placards and, if you have an out-of-state plate, you are very likely to get a break.
The biggest reason for tickets being forgiven in Frederick is because the driver returned before the ticket was placed in the wiper.