Speed demon: Fastest parking ticket on record?

Posted: August 05, 2014

FORGET THE World Cup. Forget the Phillies. (Really.) Forget the Sixers. (Please.)

Philadelphia owns a world record.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority ticketed a motorist for "meter expired" even before he got out of his car.

Here's what happened, according to ticketee Brian Yan:

It was about 11 a.m. July 10, and he had dropped his girlfriend off on Arch Street near 22nd. He turned onto 22nd and pulled his white 2010 Ford Taurus into a parking space to get a cup of coffee.

Yan recounts from memory:

"I pull up, take off my sunglasses, turn off the ignition and reach for a roll of quarters" he keeps in the car for dumb meters that don't take credit cards.

He steps out of the car, "I hit my clicker," the automatic door lock, "it makes a 'hoo-hoo' noise" and Yan heads for the curb to feed the meter. He sees a parking-enforcement officer writing a ticket.

"Where did you come from?" asks the startled parking-enforcement officer, Alfred Toto.

"From the driver's seat," Yan says, trying not to sound smart-alecky. "I assume you're not giving me a ticket."

"Your meter has expired," says Toto.

"I just pulled into the spot," replies Yan, who is wondering if Toto is putting him on or maybe he's on "Candid Camera."

Yan's Taurus has Jersey plates because he lives in Merchantville. He's 37 and has been a teacher for most of his adult life.

"Well, I've already processed the ticket," Toto says.

"You can't give a ticket to someone who's just pulled into a spot," Yan complains.

"I can't do anything about it," says Toto. "You'll get a hearing."

"Can't you give me a recision?" Yan asks.

"Not if it's already processed," says Toto, who's now backing away because PEOs are cautioned to avoid confrontations with motorists, some of whom are dangerous hotheads.

Yan accepts the $36 "meter-expired" ticket, goes home and files for a hearing by email.

You can do that?

I guess I haven't been written up in a while. Yan emailed the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication on the 10th, got an acknowledgment the same day. A hearing date will come later, his reply says. It will be his word against Toto's ticket.

I call the Parking Authority, which unleashes the PEOs, and executive director Vince Fenerty tells me it's the first time he's ever heard a complaint like Yan's. "Me, too. That's why it's a column," I say.

Fenerty tells me that writing a ticket in 10 seconds is amazing. "I don't have anyone that is that quick," he says, adding that "we train them to see if someone is in the car," and also that Toto has 14 years of experience and is not known as an overzealous ticket writer.

But first: File for a hearing by email?

That's been in effect more than a year, Fenerty says, and you can get the hearing that way, too. I can hardly wait to use that service, I think to myself.

Recision? That's the "term PPA uses when someone is being issued a metered ticket and then a citizen comes up and approaches him before the ticket is issued," Fenerty says.

At what moment in time is the ticket "issued"?

"When the last element is written on the ticket," says deputy director Richard Dickson, who checked with Toto, who says he just didn't see Yan in the car.

Can Yan get a letter from PPA saying that Toto agrees it was a bad ticket? I ask.

Yan can request that from PPA customer service, Dickson says. I don't want to seem overconfident, but beating this looks like a slam dunk for Yan.

But Philly will get to keep its speed record.


Email: stubyko@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5977

On Twitter: @StuBykofsky

Blog: ph.ly/Byko

Columns: ph.ly/StuBykofsky

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