By Jerry Zezima
I’ve got a ticket to hide. Actually, I’ve got four tickets that the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles thought I was trying to hide.
I plead ignorance, which I can say about practically any situation that involves me, because the parking citations were issued for a car that didn’t belong to me, in a place where I no longer lived, at a time dating back to the turn of the century.
The mystery began recently when I received a letter from a collection agency informing me that the vehicle in question received four parking citations, totaling $120, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in September 2002, October 2002, May 2003 and November 2003.
Curious as to why it took so long to get hold of me, and wondering if anyone who owned a Model T was also on the list, I called the collection agency and spoke with a nice person named Sarah.
I explained that I have never owned a car of that make and model and that it wasn’t registered to me. I added that while I was born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut, I moved to Long Island, New York, in 1998.
“The account is still collectible,” Sarah said.
“If it takes me 20 years to pay the tickets, would that be OK?” I asked.
“I can’t give you any legal advice,” Sarah told me, “but if this isn’t you, contact the state DMV.”
I called and, after being on hold for about the length of time it would take to drive to Connecticut, spoke with a friendly young woman named Taylor, who said, “When we have people who inquire about tickets that weren’t for them, I direct them to the tickets department. Unfortunately, I don’t have a number for them. They only communicate through email.”
After Taylor gave me the email address, I asked, “Have you ever gotten a ticket?”
“No,” she said proudly. “I don’t have any parking violations or speeding tickets. I’m very careful.”
Duly impressed, I thanked Taylor and sent the following email to the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.
I recently received a letter from a collection agency about four parking tickets for a vehicle I never owned. Not only that, but the tickets, issued in Bridgeport and totaling $120, were from 2002 and 2003. That’s 20 years ago!
I suspect that the car belonged to my daughter and that I co-signed the loan. Frankly, my name must be on half the documents in the United States. I’m surprised the matter didn’t come up during the debt negotiations.
Anyway, here are my questions:
Since the car technically wasn’t mine, do I have to pay the tickets?
Isn’t there a statute of limitations on this sort of thing?
If not, will you give me 20 years to clear it up?
Speaking of the time lag, why did it take the DMV so long to pursue the issue?
I am now 69. I will turn 70 in January. I think a nice 70th birthday present from you to me would be to drop the whole stupid thing. I’ll use the $120 to buy myself something. Or I’ll put it toward my car loan.
If you insist I pay the tickets, I will take the same amount of time you took to send this matter to a collection agency. That means I will be nearing 90. I may not even be around then, in which case you should contact my daughter. Good luck getting money from her.
Thanks, DMV. I look forward to hearing back from you. Till then, take care, buy a calendar for the office and watch where you park.
I received an email response from Ramon, who said the DMV doesn’t have any record of the car being registered in my name and that my email was forwarded to the Bridgeport Parking Authority.
I called the authority and spoke with a pleasant and helpful person named Giselle, who said, “In Connecticut, parking tickets do not have a statute of limitations. The farthest back I could find was 1990. Unfortunately, the city of Bridgeport was $100 million in debt for parking tickets.”
“I’ve put two daughters through college, including the one who owned the car that was ticketed, and I’m $100 million in debt,” I said.
Giselle laughed and admitted that she once got a parking ticket.
“I could say I’m guilty,” she said. “But I took responsibility and paid it.”
Giselle added, much to my relief, that I’m not guilty.
“I’m emailing the collection agency,” she said. “It will be taken care of.”
“After all these years, I’m off the hook?” I said.
“Yes,” Giselle replied. “But if you come back to Connecticut, be careful where you park. You don’t want to get a ticket.”
Copyright 2023 by Jerry Zezima