Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Parking ticket Scrooge: Has the holiday spirit expired?

When I pulled up in front of the Denver Motor Vehicle office on Welton yesterday, the parking lot was full and the line was spilling out the front door. With what looked like a long wait ahead of me, I loaded the parking meter to the max. Good news: an hour and 53 minutes later, I didn't have a ticket for an expired meter. No, I had one for expired plates.

The sticker to update those plates was in my hand.

I'd gone to the DMV office to renew my plates -- after waiting, and waiting, for the renewal notice to show up in my mailbox. It finally did so over the long Thanksgiving weekend, when city offices were on furlough, and now, on December 1, the day the thirty-day grace period expired, there wasn't a moment to waste. I punched in -- I was 715 in the renewal category (there were two others in the mix), and number 670 was up. But the atmosphere was festive, with a man in a Nuggets sweatshirt selling homemade treats and another fellow bestowing Christmas cheer by giving his low number to a woman who had a crying kid in tow. (A local lawyer didn't wait for Santa Claus to spread more good cheer: He paid twenty bucks to trade numbers with a guy who had more time than cash.)

And given the crowds that jammed the room, the parking lot and the sidewalk, the procedure went remarkably smoothly. Less than two hours later I was done, walking out the door and right to Welton Street, where I still had a few minutes in my meter. And a $75 ticket in my door for expired plates.

Yes, the grace period had expired at midnight the night before. But really, who parks on this stretch of Welton who isn't trying to make things right with the DMV? Isn't picking on parkers here a little, well, unsportsmanlike?

That's what I'm going to ask the Denver parking-ticket referee when I visit that office this morning. Anyone want to bet on whether I'll be shown mercy?

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Nativity scene protests a Denver holiday tradition: Jesus, Mary and Joseph!"

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun