Watch CBS News

Denver Parking Agents Making Thousands Of Mistakes On Tickets

By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) - An internal database from Denver's Right of Way Enforcement Division shows parking agents are making numerous errors and the agency cancels or voids thousands of its own parking citations every year due to those errors.

Nancy Kuhn, a spokesperson for Denver's Right of Way Enforcement Division, acknowledged the ongoing errors in an email to CBS4.

"Like all of us, right of way enforcement agents make occasional errors and the agency has a process in place to evaluate, track, and address errors," wrote Kuhn.

A CBS4 investigation found the division that hands out parking tickets also generates monthly reports on hundreds of parking citations it has to void for a variety of reasons.

CBS4 obtained six months worth of those "Cancel Reports" from November 2015 through May 2016 which showed nearly 2,400 parking tickets had to be canceled, most of them due to what are labeled "officer error."

Parking Tickets
(credit: CBS)

In one case, an individual officer wrote 15 citations in one shift that later had to be canceled due to "officer error."

In many cases the explanation was that there was "no violation" but a ticket had been written anyway. In other cases the vehicles had been previously cited so a duplicate ticket was a mistake. Still other tickets were rescinded due to incorrect plate numbers being recorded, no actual violation existing, incorrect location or plate number.

Some of the faulty tickets were blamed on "equipment malfunction."

It appears some faulty tickets are not caught. Just ask Eric Robinson. Last month he parked in LoDo at 19th and Blake and displayed his current handicapped placard on his front windshield.

Robinson showed CBS4 pictures that he said were taken that day indicating his handicapped placard was prominently displayed.

But when he returned to his car he had been ticketed for not having a handicapped placard visible.

"I was kind of surprised," said Robinson. "The placard was on display … so it was an erroneous ticket."

Parking Tickets
(credit: CBS)

Robinson appealed the citation to a magistrate who agreed with him and overturned the $25 ticket.

"I don't like throwing money away and it was the principle," he told CBS4. "It's not them fighting for safety, it's revenue for the city I think."

Frederick Santana found himself in a similar situation. He was cited last month for parking too long in a two hour zone. But he appealed, showing a parking magistrate pictures where he parked indicating there were no signs stating it was a two hour zone. The magistrate agreed and threw out his $25 citation.

"It was a wrong ticket. They should have never gave me that ticket," said Santana.

Kuhn says Denver parking officers have an error rate of less than 1 percent so far this year. CBS4 found that while the majority of agents have very few tickets that need to be canceled, a small amount of officers have a large amount of faulty tickets that need to be voided. Ten parking officers had 48 percent of all canceled tickets in the six months worth of records examined by CBS4.

"The process, overall, encourages honesty, integrity and goodwill," said Kuhn.

CBS4 found hundreds of tickets are voided for what is labeled as "compliance" or "goodwill." That means that in many cases if a driver appears after the ticket is written and the agent can get compliance, the ticket might be canceled.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.