Parking tickets: New policy requires ticket-fighters to show ID

Back in October, we relayed the story of one person's battle (mine) to understand Denver's new overnight parking meters. That quest took me to the Denver County Court Parking Magistrate's Office to make my case to one of the magistrates: "city employees blessed with the magical power to reduce or dismiss parking tickets at their discretion." Then, I didn't have to show any form of identification. When I returned recently, I did.

And why is that?

"The only purpose is so we know who we're dealing with," says Judge John Marcucci, the presiding judge of the Denver County Court. The law, Marcucci says, dictates that only vehicle owners or operators can contest their parking tickets. In other words, your mom can't fight your parking ticket for you, you lazy teenager.

"When I became aware that we didn't know who we were dealing with (at the parking magistrate's office), I read the rule and decided to implement it," Marcucci says. "Part of my job is to correct things or fix things in the court." A few weeks ago, the magistrate's office -- which is located in the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building -- put up signs informing ticket-fighters that they'd now have to show ID before arguing their case.

We had a litany of questions, which Marcucci answered patiently.

The first: Why wasn't the law being followed before? "I don't know why it wasn't implemented before," Marcucci says. "There's just a general sense that we should know when people come into our courts -- any of our courts -- who we're dealing with."

You can check to see if the person fighting the ticket is the owner of the car, but how can you be sure they're the operator? "If they're lying, they're committing perjury," Marcucci says. "And we assume people don't commit perjury."

Is there a purpose behind collecting people's names? "Let's say a person comes in and fights a parking ticket and picks up a chair and hits the magistrate over the head with it and runs out," Marcucci says. It'd be helpful to know who they are, he adds.

But what if a person doesn't have an ID? "We just need to know who we're dealing with," Marcucci repeats. "If a person says, 'I have no documented ID, but I swear I'm Joe Smith, and I was the owner or operator,'" we'd take their word for it, he assures Westword. "The purpose is not to force people to show documentation," Marcucci adds.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar