I hoped that my first posting on this blog would be something quirky and fun, but when I got the letter last Friday from Linebarger, Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP, I just couldn’t resist.
This is the story of how I received a parking ticket from the City of Las Vegas for a handicap parking violation that I allegedly committed using a car that hadn’t been in Nevada for over 1 1/2 years. The citation date was Dec. 14, 2010. The vehicle in question was my Toyota Camry, which I had driven to Buffalo in June 2009 and re-registered in New York State in July 2009.
For me, this story begins last Friday, Oct. 21, when I received a one-page missive from Linebarger in the mail, instructing me to pay the City of Las Vegas $896.80. The offense I had supposedly committed: a parking violation on “W CRAIG” on “12-14-10″ using a Kia with the tag number 053USH.
Now, 053USH was indeed the Nevada license plate number I had when I lived in Las Vegas from 2007 to 2009. But the merits of the accusation end there. I have never owned a Kia. 053USH was the tag on my silver Toyota Camry, which I re-registered in New York — like a good citizen — as soon as I moved here.
Since leaving Las Vegas permanently in 2009, I have been back to Nevada once: this summer, in August 2011, to visit friends. On that occasion, I flew to Las Vegas. The Camry stayed in New York.
In December 2010, I was in Buffalo, 2,000 miles away from where some jerk decided to park illegally in a handicap spot on W CRAIG and ignore the ticket.
I can’t say for sure, but I assume that the City of Las Vegas must have tried to contact me about this problem at my Nevada address in the Vegas suburb of Henderson. They wouldn’t have been able to reach me there, of course, because I had left more than 18 months before.
In any case, I never received the original parking citation; the debt collection notice from Linebarger, a Texas law firm, was the first I heard of the alleged violation. Based on a conversation I had with a clerk at Linebarger, my understanding is that the $896.80 amount the firm is trying to collect from me includes a $136.80 fee for Linebarger’s services.
The original charge from Las Vegas was only $760. And even though I’m able to log onto the city’s electronic parking citation system to pay this lower amount, the Linebarger clerk told me I must pay the higher dollar figure — $896.80 — and that I must do it through Linebarger. I was never able to wring a satisfactory answer out of her with regards to why this is the case.
A supervisor at Linebarger told me that when I left Nevada, I was supposed to surrender my license plates to the state. The fact that I called the DMV in 2009 specifically to ask if I needed to notify the agency of my departure doesn’t matter. I have no written record of the DMV representative’s response, which was that I didn’t need to do anything upon leaving.
Like most sane people, I didn’t ask for documentation of what I perceived to be a routine conversation. I’ll be more watchful in the future.
For now, I have documents showing that the Camry with the Nevada plates reading 053USH is the very same vehicle I registered in New York in 2009. To bolster my case, I’m requesting complete vehicle registration histories from both states.
I thought resolving this problem would be fairly straightforward. But the debt collection people say I need to work through them instead of directly with the City of Las Vegas.
Why the middle man is necessary, I don’t know. I called the city anyway.
It took me three tries and 25 minutes on hold to get through to a representative at the parking office. The fellow who finally picked up seemed sympathetic, but bewildered. In the end, he told me to just send a letter to his department.
Given the overwhelming amount of evidence I have to support the fact that both my Camry and I had long been in New York when Las Vegas issued the W CRAIG citation, I’m hoping the parking people will dismiss the violation.
The fact that this even happened, however, is absurd.
I experienced a similar ordeal when I moved from California to Nevada in 2007. In that situation, California forced Wells Fargo to hand over $258 of my money to pay “overdue” vehicle registration fees for the Camry that I had already re-registered in Nevada. I won’t go into details here, but if you’re curious, you can find the whole story at the Las Vegas Sun.
My problems with California were the reason I called Nevada’s DMV in 2009 to ask what I needed to do when I moved to New York. Apparently, a person can’t be careful enough. Let this be a cautionary tale to anyone who relocates across state lines.
As soon as I get my vehicle registration histories, I will be mailing letters and supporting documentation to both the City of Las Vegas and Linebarger. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes.
Thanks for reading =).
Update (Oct. 26)
Just wanted to note that I’ve updated this story here: Parking Office Confirms That New York Camry Did Not Spontaneously Materialize in Vegas to Receive Gargantuan Parking Ticket.
A huge “thank you” to the Las Vegas parking clerk who picked up the phone there yesterday and helped bring this ordeal to a quick and satisfying conclusion.