- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 1, 2003

Today is the day that parking fines increase in the District. The driving public can thank the money-hungry D.C. Council for the increases.

The largest increases will eventually hit the wallets of tourists, since tour buses and other sightseeing vehicles will now pay $500 instead of $20 for parking in restricted areas. The costs for those companies' inconvenience, of course, will be passed on to consumers.

Meanwhile, naughty drivers caught at expired meters, or broken ones for that matter, will be hit up for $25 instead of $15. Fines for four other violations increased as well. So remember, don't park in an alley, and obey those street cleaning signs or you could receive a $30 ticket.

And don't think meter maids and D.C. police are the only ticket writers in town. Motorists must be on the lookout for other police agencies with pen and tickets in hand, too. The council has enlisted nearly two dozen agencies to help them rake in dough via the city's lucrative ticket-writing racket. Officers with the U.S. Mint (who should be minding the nation's money) and Metro (who should be minding car thieves) can and do issue tickets.

But don't expect the elitists on the council to contribute their fair share to D.C. coffers. They are above the law, having exempted themselves from parking violations.

The council's primary reason for increasing fines? To catch up with neighboring jurisdictions. That reasoning is almost almost funny.

Seriously, here's why the council increased fines: The District hired scores of new meter maids last year, so the money to pay their salaries and benefits, and for all those additional ticket books, has to come from somewhere.

The best that motorists can do? Mind those meters and parking signs, then, perhaps, motorists can have the last laugh.

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