Meredith Royster

Shopper Ticketed for Parking at Mall in DC

A D.C. resident said she repeatedly tried to get a fine overturned after her brother parked her van at the mall where he went shopping and got a ticket.

On Oct. 13, Marlon Burch and his daughter took his sister’s van to Hechinger Mall in Northeast. After shopping for about an hour, he returned and saw the ticket and the ticket writer a few cars away, he said.

“So I asked him, 'What's going on?'” Burch said. “He said, ‘You're not supposed to be parked there,’ and I said, ‘Why? I was shopping here.’ And he said, ‘You have a receipt?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘Well, no problem. Just mail it in with the ticket and that's that.’”

He sent the receipts in with the ticket, but in February, his sister got a letter denying the dispute.

Melody Burch thought something must have been overlooked, so she filed a request for reconsideration, sending in the receipts again and a screenshot showing the address on the ticket matching Hechinger Mall, but it was denied again.

“I'll admit when I'm wrong, but this was ridiculous,” she said. “I mean, we aren't wrong. We were parking on a parking lot at a mall while shopping. It just didn't make sense.”

She paid the $250 fine plus a $10 fee to appeal the decision to the traffic adjudication board only to be denied again.

“I guess the biggest issue was that they were saying the only way, the only defense is that I have to get consent from the property owner, and I'm like, consent from Hechinger Mall?” Melody Burch said.

The property owner never responded, so she filed her last appeal with D.C. Superior Court, where a judge finally questioned the ticket and asked D.C. for more information.

Instead, the Department of Motor Vehicles requested the case be remanded back to them so they could dismiss the ticket immediately.

“I'm happy that it got remanded to be dismissed, but at the same time, we still never know why they maintained that ticket,” Melody Burch said.

A total of five tickets were issued in the Hechinger Mall parking lot Oct. 13, all in the same row. Only one other driver disputed their ticket. They sent in a receipt and had their ticket dismissed right away.

The DMV did not answer what the difference between the two cases was.

Melody Burch got $260 back, but she is still out a $30 filing fee for Superior Court.

“I lost time, and it was very agonizing and frustrating,” she said. “I mean, I probably got a couple more gray hairs because of this situation, really.”

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