‘I’m getting it fixed tomorrow.’ ‘I thought it was a 55.’ ‘I’m on way way now to get it inspected.’
Cops hear similar excuses every day when issuing tickets to violators, but for customers at Fairfax County’s Chantilly Service Center, it’s not just a matter of future plans. For the past six years or so, Bruce Redwine, who owns the Chantilly auto repair shop, has witnessed his customers ticketed for countless expired inspection stickers, while in the parking lot of the industrial park the shop is located, awaiting a scheduled inspection, according to The Washington Post.
“They’re harassing the small businesses trying to make it in this tough economy,” said Ray Barrera of AandH Equipment Repair, another shop in the Mariah Business Center industrial park.
Unfortunately, the only reason officers are allowed to ticket cars on the private party is because of a letter from the owner of the lot specifically granting them permission to do so. Presumably the intent was to keep illegally parked cars from using the space, but instead it’s turned into a breeding ground for predatory ticketing techniques.
About midsummer, Redwine had finally had enough. As Fairfax County parking enforcement officer Jacquelyn D. Hogue was about to slap another ticket on a car waiting to be inspected, he grabbed it out of her hand and threw some profanity-laced shade in her direction.
Hogue apparently didn’t appreciate the rebellious spirit and had Redwine arrested on the spot for felony assault on a police officer, even though she’s not a real cop.
Eventually, Redwine was acquitted of the charge on appeal to a jury after a Fairfax judge sentenced him to four days in prison at the lower court. He was happy about the decision but is still upset with the fact that he was booked and fingerprinted, had his mugshot taken, and was forced to pay thousands of dollars in court and lawyer fees.
He’s also sick of covering the cost of tickets he doesn’t believe officers should be worrying so much about. In one month, Redwine said, he paid $2,200 worth of tickets.
“In order to retain my clientele, I would eat the ticket,” Redwine said. “I don’t want to give them a bill for repairs and add on $50 for a ticket. You think they’ll come back?”
“This is absurd. As a business owner if a good customer was ticketed while a vehicle was on our lot to be repaired, I would take care of the fine for them,” says Stan Creech, Owner, Creech Import Repair. “Meanwhile, I would seek resolution with local government officials to correct the problem. While I haven’t heard of this happening around this area, we have had similar problems with tow companies scouring parking areas, looking for parking violators.”
Even though parking enforcement officers have permission to be on the property and are doing their job, auto repair shop owners, many of whom are still recovering from the recent economic downturn, are just looking for some common sense and discretion. In addition to scaring off potential customers, it’s been hard for people like Redwine to get work done consistently. If any workers see Hogue, the officer infamous for checking the lot, it was like a red-alert drill.
“All work would cease,” Redwine said. “Everybody would jump to get a car inside. At some points, we couldn’t do any work.”