Honkin' Mad

If you park downtown in the pouring rain, will you still get a parking ticket?

A warning to motorists, as Fort Worth braces for yet another round of heavy rain:

If you park in downtown Fort Worth during a downpour, don’t assume you can get away without putting money into the meter.

You might get away with it, but it’s possible that when you return to your vehicle a soggy citation will be slapped onto your windshield.

And, in most cases, the writing on the ticket — including your license plate number, the time of day and a checked box showing the violation — will all still be legible, even if the paper itself is limp.

“We use pens with ink that doesn’t bleed,” said Peter Elliott, city parking manager.

Fort Worth’s city center is a vibrant place, with an estimated 46,215 people working downtown and another 7,612 people living in the central business district. And, there are 2,522 hotel rooms for visitors.

Among those who frequent downtown, it has always been a myth of sorts that when the weather turns wet it’s possible to park at a meter for free.

It turns out, that was a myth waiting to be busted.

Just before 6 p.m. on a recent afternoon — a day in which rain had fallen pretty much nonstop since early morning — a Honda was spotted parked along Fifth Street with a citation tucked under its windshield wiper. The ticket showed it had been written at 3:50 p.m. for a parking meter violation.

The fine for such an offense is $30.

Normally, downtown meters charge fees range from 50 cents to $1.50 per hour, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

Elliott says the city’s meter readers don’t get the day off because of wet weather — although he did say that in the event of lightning or other potentially unsafe severe weather they would stop writing tickets and seek shelter (like anyone of sane mind should).

“If there’s a tornado out there, we’re not issuing tickets,” he said.

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796; @gdickson

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