I’ve been a loyal taxpaying San Francisco citizen for almost 4 years now but will always despise the way the city handles and abuses the parking and ticketing system. DPT which stands for “Department of Parking and Traffic” goes around the city and terrorizes the neighborhoods daily by writing tickets for expired parking meters, double parking, parking in driveways, etc. I understand the city needs to generate revenue and parking meter maids need to do their job by enforcing expired meters but I feel they severely abuse the system and take advantage of people especially the residents.

If you ever park in neighborhoods such as Cow Hollow for example, you’ll notice every street has street cleaning signs for specific times and days during the week in which you cannot park your car. Not only that but each side of the street has different hours and days. The city obviously makes it as difficult as possible for you to remember the day and time the street you actually parked on is going to be cleaned. It’s very similar to how Las Vegas casinos make it difficult to find the exit in hopes you stay longer and gamble more.

Now who really needs the streets cleaned that frequently anyhow? I’d be happy with street cleaning once a month if that will prevent me from additional tickets and save taxpayers money by not having to pay the street cleaners as often as they are paid. Of course the city will never change this because the more frequently the streets are “cleaned” the more revenue they make from writing tickets to the unfortunate hard-working residents who happened to oversleep that morning.

dpt ticketOn top of that, the way the DPT meter maids attach the ticket to your car is ridiculous. You would think they would take the time and make the effort to get out of their little golf cart and position the ticket under your windshield so it’s visible and will not blow away. But no, they can’t even get off their butts and instead shove the ticket into your door jam crack which has a high chance of blowing away in this windy city. You have no idea how many tickets I’ve seen sitting on the ground or sidewalk and sympathize for the person this ticket belongs to because they don’t even know they received it.

Think that’s not on purpose? First of all it means chances of the car owner actually receiving this ticket are slim to none and won’t even know a citation has been written until a delinquent letter has been mailed. This means 21 days have passed and you’re no longer allowed to protest the ticket. That is great news for the ticketing officer since chances of this ticket getting protested and reversed are drastically reduced. Now the ticketing officer will be more likely to make his or her quota for the month.

So what can you do to deal with your DPT ticket? I see three options all of which I’ve tried and to be honest with you I’m still not satisfied since the city of San Francisco continues to take advantage and abuse their powers. Regardless, here are the options I’d recommend:

  1. As much as you hate to do so, just pay your ticket and be done with it. I’ve spent more time getting angry and upset trying to deal with the morons that work at DPT that my energy and time is better spent doing something else. I don’t like them to win especially when I know they’re wrong but again it’s not worth trying to battle them over a $50 ticket.
  2. Fight your ticket directly by mailing in a protest letter (free DPT protest template) to the citation review center. I’ve done this several times myself and have gotten tickets dismissed because of it. On the flip side however I have lost my fair share as well and had to pay the full amount.
  3. Pay a company such as parkingticket.com who guarantees your ticket will be dismissed or reduced otherwise you get your money back. I’ve used them before and can tell you it works but it’s still a long and tedious process since you need to follow their steps exactly and mail in several protest letters to DPT. I’ve also had one ticket not be dismissed and am still fighting parkingticket.com for my refund.

In all honesty if the world was a fair place the San Francisco city government would properly train their DPT staff, reduce the frequency and sporadic schedules of street cleaning, and allow an easier way to fight and protest your tickets.

All in all if you end up getting a ticket is probably just easiest to pay it off instead of having to worry about spending your valuable time and energy trying to fight it. I wish I had a better solution for you but it least you have some options if you do decide to fight and protest your ticket.

I’ve provided a template you can use if you decide to protest your ticket directly. Just make sure you make a photocopy of the ticket and the letter e-mailed in as well as certifying the letter which will cost you a little over two dollars. This is just to make sure you have proof that DPT actually signed for and received your protest letter. If you don’t, they can easily say they never received it and then it’s your word against theirs.

Please feel free to tell me about your ticket stories below. I especially love hearing when people beat the DPT system!

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