Double dip parking tickets

September 30th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

More than 4000 Wellington motorists a year have been receiving two tickets for what is effectively a single offence under double-dipping fines that have already been thrown out by a court.

has been forced to investigate the legality of its fines after a District Court ruling found it was punishing people for two offences, despite the transgressions amounting to the same thing.

But the council maintains it is acting legally, and it is continuing to issue the double dose of fines.

When motorists’ pay-and-display tickets run out, they are fined for displaying an expired ticket. Then, if they are also beyond the maximum time limit for the car park, they are hit with a second fine. In the past financial year, 4100 tickets were issued in this way. The practice started many years ago.

As you can only get a ticket for up to two hours, ipso facto if you end up pared for longer you will have an expired ticket and be over the maximum time.

You should get a ticket, but only one ticket. The fines for an expired ticket already vary depending on time. So if you are 30 minutes over it is $12 and two to four hours over is $30.

In May, justices of the peace Ian Symonds and S J Roughton ruled against the practice, saying the first fine should be “subsumed into the second” because it was basically the same offence.

They’re right.

But council spokesman Richard MacLean defended the practice, and said the council was still issuing the extra tickets while it carried out a review. It accepted that two tickets could make motorists “become annoyed”, but it maintained two offences were being committed.

“We reject the revenue-gathering angle, because we are responding to a problem where people are parking free and taking away the ability for other people to park.”

Yeah, not revenue generating – right.

No one disputes there should be a fine – just not two fines.

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17 Responses to “Double dip parking tickets”

  1. WineOh (608 comments) says:

    Wellington parking enforcement has always been extremely officious, and has walked the very fine line between enforcement and revenue gathering. Virtually every candidate in the local body elections has talked about the importance of making the city a vibrant place, and you don’t do that by charging an $4 per hour and heavy-handed enforcement.

    With two major carpark buildings closed post-quake, parking is at an extreme shortage in town at the moment. I have heard it directly from one of the park-wise staff that they have been instructed to ‘take it easy’ at the moment… though not sure whether that is about pressure on parking spaces or the imminent election.

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  2. RRM (9,667 comments) says:

    I once worked for a bloke in Rotorua who said his personal policy was never to put money in parking meters – if you just pay the tickets you’ll come out ahead overall.

    I wonder if that would work as well in Wellington??

    And Park Wise should invest some of that mega “revenue” they supposedly gather back into some more authoritative-looking uniforms for their meter wardens… I have seen trolley boys who are better turned-out and a more impressive presence than the Wellington meter maids, it’s no wonder so many people feel bold enough to have a go at them…

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  3. iMP (2,345 comments) says:

    Nazis!

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  4. duggledog (1,439 comments) says:

    Yeah RRM that wouldn’t work in Wellington, spiritual home of the civil servant and bureaucrat.

    In Auckland if you are a TV / radio personality, you can never pay for parking, run up 20,000 odd dollars in parking tickets, go to court and get community service DJing to the students at Auckland Uni for a bit. True story

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  5. Graeme Edgeler (3,277 comments) says:

    It is two offences:

    Park in a maximum two hour park, pay for an hour, leave after 75 minutes. One offence (staying over paid parking by 15 minutes)

    Park in a maximum two hour park, pay for two hours, return after 1:50, pay for another hour, stay for another 45 minutes. One offence (staying beyond the maximum allowed 2 hours, even though you paid).

    Park in a maximum two hour park. Pay for two hours, but stay for 2:15. You have clearly committed the two offences above. Now, to recognise this, the council could create a separate third offence, but that would be more confusing.

    That said, it is stupid. If prison terms can be ordered to be served concurrently, why can’t fines? :-)

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  6. Graeme Edgeler (3,277 comments) says:

    I once worked for a bloke in Rotorua who said his personal policy was never to put money in parking meters – if you just pay the tickets you’ll come out ahead overall.

    I wonder if that would work as well in Wellington??

    It would not. Not even close.

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  7. woodburner (28 comments) says:

    Councils need to get better legal advice over all their policies… My experience in local govts is that the in-house legal capability is generally restricted to standing orders and electoral act. and there is little willingness to engage external advice unless instructed. Generally means that the councils tend to get screwed on commercial contracts, resulting in huge costs down the line. This is an observation from a couple of provincial authorities.

    No doubt this will end up in court at great cost, and either a refund system settled upon or the practice changed. Either way, ratepayers end up paying far more than the salary of a decent in-house lawyer.

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  8. peterwn (3,215 comments) says:

    RPM and Graeme – putting a dollar in the ‘pay and display’ means the difference between $12 and $40. So there is room for some calculated risk by inserting what would cover the minimum likely period you would be away. If the risk becomes too much in favour of the motorist, then it is time to increase infringement fees. Improved management of enforcement has probably taken much of the pressure off any need to increase fees. Options are heavy enforcement with low fees / fines or light enforcement with heavy fines / fees to achieve the objective to ensure parking properly turns over.

    In this instance where facts were agreed and the issue was with legal interpretation, the case would have been better handled by a judge, not JP’s. This is one thing Judith Collins could look at for criminal cases – encourage the prosecution and defence to boil down the case to the basics. For example in this case, both parties could present the facts scenario to the judge and define the issue as to the extent ‘totality’ would apply.

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  9. Nigel Kearney (919 comments) says:

    The council should charge as much as the market will bear and use the earthquake-related shortage as a reason to increase prices and have tougher enforcement, even including towing if necessary.

    But the collection process should be a civil matter where the driver incurs a debt that the council needs to recover through normal civil procedure. Just like any private parking provider. Why is the council allowed to use the criminal law and its fine collection mechanism against people who simply owe money for a service?

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  10. freedom101 (481 comments) says:

    Parking charges are supposed to be about rationing the space so that parks turn over so that the people visiting the city to shop or whatever can find a park for an hour or two. Enforcement via fines has morphed into a money grab, to such an extent that the council is now dependent on fines income to subsidise its operations. The original purpose of rationing has been forgotten. To unravel this mess now would ultimately require rates rises or the canning of pet projects, hence I predict that the money grab will continue and maybe intensify.

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  11. labrator (1,849 comments) says:

    The original purpose of rationing has been forgotten.

    Absolutely. I’ve said before that you shouldn’t be able to receive a ticket if there are comparable empty car parks nearby. If you aren’t wasting the resource then the system is not functioning by punishing you.

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  12. Ashley Schaeffer (443 comments) says:

    labrator (1,477) Says:
    September 30th, 2013 at 11:03 am
    Absolutely. I’ve said before that you shouldn’t be able to receive a ticket if there are comparable empty car parks nearby. If you aren’t wasting the resource then the system is not functioning by punishing you.

    On occasion I have been required to do a little overtime on a Sunday morning. I park on the street outside of the highrise where I work and there are always dozens of parks available. In fact, parking is free on Sundays but the two-hour limit is still in effect, so to avoid getting ticketed I have to run downstairs and shift my car every two hours. What is the fucking point of this little game? I’ve had my car tyres chalked at 8am on a Sunday morning in a park that is free FFS!

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  13. Redbaiter (8,032 comments) says:

    Wellington Council is democratically elected.

    If Wellington citizens vote themselves into tyranny then who is to blame?l

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  14. RRM (9,667 comments) says:

    If Wellington citizens vote themselves into tyranny then who is to blame?

    You accept your responsibility for our progressive National government’s taxation, spending and social engineering programme then? Great! You can stop moaning about it now. It’s your own fault as you just said.

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  15. Redbaiter (8,032 comments) says:

    Every election stupid NZers are led by an evil media into voting for bigger and more powerful government. Local and central.

    Bigger and more powerful governments bestow power and money upon dirty little soviet style bureaucrats like Richard MacLean.

    Hence voters get the treatment they voted for.

    They need to vote for candidates who will reduce the size and power of government, and then Mr. MacLean and his double dipping will be out of their lives.

    Apparently there is only a calamity of some sort that will make this collection of weak wet fools realise their folly, so roll on that calamity.

    They’re unlikely to come to their senses any other way, and until then will just continue whining like pathetic little lemmings as they are doing here.

    Nauseating.

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  16. peterwn (3,215 comments) says:

    Nigel
    Some councils did ask for it to be made a civil matter, since they considered they gould get better collections results via Veda and debt collectors. However as Justice Collections has sharpened its act, the pressure for this has diminished.

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  17. graffix (1 comment) says:

    Problem is that the use of the courts to collect revenue may be criminal in itself. In the words of Lord Cooke of Thorndon, “when a government descends into the marketplace, it cannot avail itself of its statutory powers.” So the parking in excess of the prescribed time limit is an offense which may be pursued in the courts. The use of the courts to pursue a fine relating to the non-payment or underpayment of a parking charge may well be illegal.
    And systematic.
    And involving threats issued though the post.
    And involving enough people to qualify as organized crime.
    When you overpark beyond the time you have paid for, you may owe payment for the excess time. No fine.
    When you overpark beyond the maximum time allowed by bylaw, you have committed an offense. Pay up

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