San Jose

San Jose Parking Meters Issue Faulty Fines to Drivers

San Jose officials are confessing that a handful of the city’s parking meters have been doling out tickets to drivers who don’t deserve them.

As the San Jose Mercury News first reported, when trucks and construction shake the ground to set off the street sensors for the parking meters, the meters reset and drivers wind up with tickets even when they paid the correct meter amount.

The meters are only supposed to reset when the driver leaves the parking space. A total of 1,200 of these new “smart” parking meters were installed last year to make parking payments easier for drivers with no cash on hand.

But for drivers like Todd Rothbard, the new meters have just created more of a hassle.

Rothbard, who regularly parks in San Jose explained, “I, as always, dutifully put my 16 quarters in the meter and that was it." He said a few minutes before 9 a.m., he had a ticket, and then he got another one 40 minutes later at 9:40 a.m.

Rothbard received total of three $40 parking tickets due to meter resetting. He called to contest these parking tickets, and all three were cleared.

In February, San Jose admitted that some meters on St. James Street and Market Street have been resetting before the money runs out of the meter. It has been difficult for officials to tell when meter problems will occur.

“It’s not every single time that the vehicle is there that it (the meter) resets. It’s very sporadic,” said Laura Wells, deputy director for San Jose's Department of Transportation. Since February, at least 90 tickets issued by the department have been contested and cleared due to the resetting problem.

The transportation department says there is no way to search the entire database of parking tickets for glitches, but when individuals address complaints, it is easier to pinpoint whether they were charged unfairly. The city is depends on watchful parkers like Rothard to report unfair ticketing themselves.

Rothard says, San Jose shouldn’t be issuing drivers faulty fines at all. “The city, when they know they have a problem like this, they should have the meter person who is writing the ticket check on the spot before writing the ticket or they should simply stop writing tickets until they have the problem fixed.”

San Jose says it is working to solve the meter problem and that for now, two dozen of the most unreliable meters have been turned off.

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