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Ticketbuster: When parking signs are wrong, pictures are your best friend

Thursday - 7/10/2014, 4:41am  ET

Parking (WTOP/Ari Ashe)
The signs on one of the poles at 5th and E Streets in Northwest on June 15 (left); the same pole on June 23, with the contradictory signs corrected (right). (WTOP/Ari Ashe)

WASHINGTON -- One month after a woman received a ticket on a block with multiple incorrect parking signs, a judge has thrown out the ticket and waived all fines against her.

Lisa Foreman received the ticket on June 13 on the 400 block of 5th Street, in Northwest, for parking illegally during the afternoon rush hour.

However, four different green parking signs told drivers it was legal to park for up to two hours between 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

In fact, on one pole, two signs that were next to each other were contradictory. One said drivers can park from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; the other said drivers could not park 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The D.C. Department of Transportation, which maintains all parking signs across the city, issued the $100 ticket. While DDOT eventually fixed the four incorrect signs, spokesman Reggie Sanders told WTOP that Foreman would have to fight her ticket in court.

On Wednesday, Foreman won her case.

"It was quicker than I thought. I expected to be here about two hours. But I was there less than three minutes before he made the decision to dismiss my ticket," says Foreman.

She argued that she was not guilty under DC Code 50-2303.05(a)(2) subsection e: "The facts alleged on the parking violation notice are inconsistent or do not support a finding that the specified regulation was violated."

Foreman argued that since the parking signs were contradictory, the rules were inconsistent. Therefore, the facts on the ticket were also inconsistent and the ticket was invalid.

"I presented before-and-after pictures of the signs, including WTOP's photos and WTOP's article. His comment to me was that contradictory parking signs are grounds for dismissal," says Foreman.

DMV Hearing Examiner Marvin Ruffin cited this in his written ruling.

A AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman applauded the ruling.

"This case was literally resolved at warp speed because of her overwhelming evidence. The judge used common sense," says John Townsend, AAA-Mid Atlantic's manager of public and government affairs.

Foreman says she hopes other people are careful when parking on streets in the District.

"You have to look at all the signs, even if they may be contradictory. Walk the entire block. Also, producing evidence such as videos and pictures will work in your favor. It's hard to ignore that -- it's right in their face," says Foreman.

Townsend says the Foreman case should teach others to fight any ticket they believe is incorrect.

"Fight it at DMV traffic adjudication. Don't do it by mail, despite all the cries to do it. Do it in person. You stand a far, far better chance by looking the hearing examiner in the eye and presenting your photographic evidence," says Townsend.

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If you think you're the victim of a bogus speed camera, red light camera or parking ticket in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, WTOP may be able to help you cut the red tape. Send us your case along with any documentation to ticketbuster@wtop.com.

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