Ticketbuster: Two years and counting in wait for bad-ticket refund

WASHINGTON — A Northern Virginia man who fought his ticket and won his case in June 2012 waited nearly two years to get the refund check he was promised in eight to 10 weeks, WTOP Ticketbuster has learned.

Joseph Budzynski received a parking ticket Apr. 12, 2011, at 900 F Street in Northwest. District Department of Transportation Traffic Control Officer Yusuf A. Mumin alleged that he failed to display a multi-space meter receipt at 7:25 p.m. Budzynski challenged the ticket and took a picture of the sign, which says that there is two-hour parking from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. After that, the sign says there is no time limit until 10 p.m.

“I thought I understood the sign correctly, that after 6:30 p.m. I did not need to pay to park,” Budzynski says.

On Oct. 10, 2011, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Hearing Examiner Remigia C. Davis ruled against Budzynski. DMV adjudicates all parking tickets in the District.

“The respondent reported that the multi-space meter was not operating properly because it would not accept payment or would not issue a parking meter receipt,” Davis wrote.

“DMV Adjudication Services initiated a service request for a meter check with the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT). DDOT certified to Adjudication Services that no outages were found on the date the violation occurred,” her decision reads.

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Budzynski appealed to the DMV Traffic Adjudication Appeals Board (TAAB), saying he never argued that the meter was broken. He paid $35, including a $10 appeal fee.

“It was very frustrating and surprising that they weren’t listening to what I was talking about. It seems like the hearing examiner didn’t even read what I wrote,” Budzynski says.

On June 1, 2012, the TAAB overturned the decision from Davis. The three appeals board members agreed that Davis did not adjudicate the case properly.

Appeals Board Decision

The decision concludes, “Appellant should allow eight to ten weeks for processing of the refund.”

But as of early this month, Budzynski has not received his refund check. He contacted WTOP Ticketbuster after he heard that DMV has failed to pay out $10,000 in refunds it owed to drivers since 2008. ABC7 On Your Side uncovered the glitch that affected 400 drivers.

“When I heard that story, it totally resonated with me,” Budzynski says. “I was jumping up and down in my car because I felt that was the story I was living since June 2012 and finally there was some breakthrough.”

DMV spokeswoman Vanessa Newton tells WTOP that Budzynski was correct that he was owed a check. She says it was a simple mistake, but he should get his $35 back soon.

“TAAB’s decision of ‘overturned’ was incorrectly entered in the system as ‘affirmed'; therefore, Mr. Budzynski’s refund check was not processed,” says Newton.

Newton did not apologize for the error, but she says it’s unrelated to the other unpaid refunds. However, it remains unclear whether any other drivers have gone without refunds under similar circumstances.

“It makes me a little distrustful of the D.C. government. They want businesses and people to come into the city. I live on the Virginia side and do a lot of business in D.C. But it makes you stop and think, do I really want to cross the river and go in there, if this is how they do business?” says Budzynski.

He also hopes other drivers can learn from his story:

“If you’re owed a refund, don’t give up hope. I didn’t give up hope and the money is coming back. But definitely work with WTOP and submit your information and concerns to them.”

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. Email us your case – along with documentation – to ticketbuster@wtop.com.

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