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The Cat & Mouse Game DPT Officers Play When Chalking Your Tires

By Steve on Flickr.com

I was reading the comments from last week’s post, and thought I would respond to one of them: I'd love to hear about parking in two-hour zones. Are meter maids marking tires still? I never see them do that these days. I often rush to get back to the car after two hours and never even see my tire marked. - Nader

Great Question Nader.  Chalking of tires is still done in order to keep track of when cars are exceeding the posted time limit. Last year 41,932 vehicles were cited for overstaying their welcome. The DPT officer will chalk a block’s worth of cars, come back in two hours, and all of the cars with chalk on their tires will be given a ticket.
 
It’s great that you are diligent and check on your car every two hours.  A good tip in a two-hour zone (and at a meter) is to set your alarm on your phone to remind you of when your time is up. It takes literally 10 seconds, and will inevitably save you $50 or more.
 
Some people will come out and wipe the chalk off of their tire.  This is actually illegal and will get you a $100 citation on top of your one-hour citation.
But, just because you don’t see any chalk, it doesn’t mean that you are safe.  DPT officers have a trick and now use an electronic tracking device that scans your license plate and block number, leaving no evidence of chalk.  Here’s how it works: You park in a two hour zone, set your alarm, come back in one hour and 59 minutes, check your tires, see no chalk, think everything is cool, think that you get another two-hours for free, you go back to work, come back in less than two hours, and find a ticket on your windshield.  What happened? When the DPT comes back around, they rescan your license plate, and if you’ve been there for more than the limit, your sunny day just became cloudy with a hundred percent chance of rain.
 
Another common mistake is to move your car up the block, or even to the other side of the street.  That should be good enough, right?  Wrong. The rule is that you have to move it to a completely different block.  When DPT scans your license plate, they log it into a specific block of the street. So, when they come back, even though you’ve moved your vehicle, it still shows that you've been on the same block for over the time limit.  The rule of thumb is that as long as you cross a cross-street, you are in a new block and are good to go.
 
I know of one officer who is very crafty and told me that she has taken this cat-and-mouse game to a higher level. She marks your tire with chalk and also scans your license plate. So when you move your tires one or two feet to make the chalk line disappear, you think you are safe.  But, the chalk was just a decoy and when she comes back around, she has also scanned your license plate, and will give you a ticket.  Cat 1, Mouse 0.
 
For more in depth info on how to be the cat in this cat and mouse game with the DPT click here.