Bay Ridge man fights bum ticket; to get refund

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One Ridgite appears to have bucked the odds, successfully fighting an unjust parking ticket.

The possessor of a handicapped parking permit, Bay Ridge resident Sal Baratto was stunned, when he parked in a truck loading zone near the Rite Aid on Third Avenue last March, to get a parking ticket, even though he was parked in accordance with the regulations attached to the permit.

The bright orange envelope containing the ticket was awaiting him, in his windshield, when he came out of the drugstore after about 10 minutes, despite the fact that city regulations allow drivers with valid handicapped permits to park in no standing zones which are dedicated to trucks loading and unloading.

Even worse, when he challenged the ticket -- enclosing an explanation of where he was parked (the ticket has him parked on the opposite side of the street), as well as a copy of his handicapped parking placard -- it was initially upheld by the administrative law judge who handled the case.

“I don’t understand it,” Baratto had said of the $115 ticket he received on March 12th, which was upheld by Administrative Law Judge Alese Rubinroit on July 13th.

Rubinroit wrote in her decision, “Respondent’s general denial of the facts in the summons is not supported by persuasive evidence.”

In fact, Baratto said, he was so stunned by the ticket, which had just been issued when he exited the store -- “He was giving out summonses without knowing the law, besides not knowing the direction” -- that he drove along Third Avenue looking for the agent who had written it, and asked him about it.

“He said I was parked in violation of the posted sign,” Baratto recalled. “I showed him the permit, and he said, Nobody told me. Then, he said, Okay, just rip it up. I said, Are you kidding? Get your supervisor here. He said, Give me the summons and I’ll give it to the supervisor and have him void it.”

At this point, Baratto said, he had complied, and was surprised, about a month later, to get a ticket in the mail, with a $10 penalty tacked on. He immediately began fighting the ticket, Baratto said.

When the administrative law judge affirmed the ticket last month, he paid the fine, in order to appeal it. This time, Baratto’s appeal was successful. The day after this paper instituted inquiries about the ticket with the city’s Department of Finance (DOF), he received a letter from DOF indicating that his appeal had been successful, and that the money he had paid would be refunded.

Baratto is not the first local resident to have gotten an unjust or undeserved ticket, though he was luckier than some of the others.

Among those who faced similar situations was an elderly man who got a ticket when he got out of his car -- double-parked briefly in front of a dialysis center -- to help his ailing wife from a wheelchair into the vehicle, after treatment.

Also receiving an unjust ticket was a Ridgite who parked in an area not controlled by an alternate side sign, but who was ticketed according to the regulations on the sign, which pointed in the opposite direction. Both of those tickets were upheld by city authorities when they were appealed.

In addition, in a highly publicized incident, last November, Kris Kringle himself got a ticket for double-parking, when a community activist dressed in a Santa suit was ticketed by a traffic enforcement agent while delivering gifts and candy canes to children along Third Avenue as part of a holiday shopping promotion. Santa, too, lost when he appealed his ticket.

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