Here’s a recent exchange I had with one of Montclair’s finest: a crotchety parking enforcement officer on Valley in Upper Montclair:

ME: This meter is broken. If I park here, will I get a ticket?

PEO: How do I know you didn’t break it?

ME: Really? You saw me get out of my car. You know I didn’t break it. There’s no where else to park.  Will you ticket me if I park here?

PEO: I guess not. But if you don’t come back within an hour, I’ll ticket you. Some people use a broken meter as an excuse to sit somewhere all day long. Don’t do that!

I’ve parked with abandon at broken meters ever since this conversation, and haven’t been ticketed. But hearing how others aren’t so lucky, I called the Montclair Parking Authority to check the rules. A very pleasant office clerk, who declined to give her name, informed me that yes, parking at a broken meter is a violation of ordinance 327-34.

She also offered up this gem: “Because not everyone understands the rule, there’s a workaround.” Don’t you love that word? It means a method to circumvent a problem without eliminating it. (Like the rest of us, the parking authority office clerk prefers the town council would just get rid of the fine!)

Here’s what to do the next time you get ticketed for parking at a broken meter: Call the parking authority at 973-509-4997 and give them the meter identification information on the ticket. The city will have the meter checked within a few days and dismiss the ticket if the meter is, indeed, broken.

You’re welcome.

Have you been ticketed for parking at a broken meter? Did you get the ticket dismissed? If you’ve reported a broken meter, has it been fixed?

15 replies on “Do You Park At Broken Meters?”

  1. When I park and go to pay a meter. only to find it broken, I take it as a sign of luck.I haven’t received a ticket yet. Of course now I jinxed it.

  2. Parked at a broken meter last year at 5pm and got a ticket. It’s a pain in the butt, but I’m not doing that again.

  3. I parked at a broken meter this morning and went about my library business as swiftly as I could–and didn’t get a ticket. That meter outside the library has been broken for months.

    I’m thinking of calling that MPA number when I’m parking at a broken meter instead of waiting to get a ticket. Maybe that will get someone out to fix the darn thing.

  4. Oh, come on! Since when do websites have exclusive rights to entire topics of discussion? Besides, what’s NOT being discussed on the Montclair Watercooler?

  5. I avoid them. Don’t need the hassle. But why don’t they just fix or replace the darn things? This is not rocket science. That would alleviate the problem in the first place.

  6. I try to avoid them since I found out that in NJ things are different than in NYC. But if I find a space and park and get my kids out of their car seats and onto the sidewalk and then go to pay only to find it blinking FAIL, I take my chances. I try to remember to check before all that hassle, but usually forget. Good to know there’s a workaround.

  7. Oh dear lord please tell me you are kidding ML???? I overheard and joined in this exact conversation at the Y the other day. The women said they read about it on “The Barista”.

  8. oliver, buddy, don’t kill the Golden Goose, here. I mean, you have a permanently reserved free parking space in Montclair, fer godssakes, and you want them to fix the meter?

    If you get the ticket then call the number and get your get-out-of-jail-free card.

  9. Conan, I find that sometimes I have to share my free-parking spot with others….

    On this explain-yourself-phone call thing, I’m a little worried that in the time that elapses between when I get a ticket and when they send out an inspector “within a few days” to verify my assertion, the broken meter will have been fixed. (I think sometimes the meters just need to be emptied of coins.) I don’t want to fight a battle with the MPA. In the he-said/she-said conversation that would ensue, I’m pretty sure the MPA wins.

    Let them fix the meters, and take my quarters. Or stop writing tickets on broken meters!

  10. And tell me, town council, why is there still an MPA? Why isn’t anything being done to address these issues? Are you all back from vacation yet? And do you read anything at all?

  11. Allow me to think like a parking official for a minute. Let’s say you park at a broken meter, only to come back to find a ticket. You take time out of your busy day to fight it in court and you are then told by the judge that it is YOUR responsibility to see if the meter is working before you decide to park there. Seriously, I can hear them saying that.

  12. Mrs Martta and johnqp: While it’s true that the house always wins, I’d hope that this information in the post would hold true:

    “Here’s what to do the next time you get ticketed for parking at a broken meter: Call the parking authority at 973-509-4997 and give them the meter identification information on the ticket. The city will have the meter checked within a few days and dismiss the ticket if the meter is, indeed, broken.”

  13. Sounds to me like the meter maid… er, parking enforcement officer.. was trying to be nice.

    Now and then I see a PEO and try to strike up a conversation. Typically she (they’re always women, in my experience) is pretty friendly, once she figures out I’m not going to try and rip her head off.

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