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Parking tickets to be reimbursed

November 03, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Charles Town residents who were ticketed recently for parking in the wrong direction may soon get a refund.

Charles Town Police Chief Mike Aldridge said the municipal court recently dismissed 11 of the traffic tickets because the law had not been enforced in at least four years.

The tickets for the offense come with a $20 fine.

Eight Charles Town residents had paid the $20 without taking it to court. One man paid the ticket with pennies, Aldridge said.

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Town council members said the residents who paid the fine should be reimbursed soon. Aldridge said the lack of enforcement of the law in residential neighborhoods made it a dormant law.

To enforce the law again, police should have notified the public through advertisements and then had a "grace" period in which warnings would have been issued instead of tickets.

Aldridge said there's still a law on Charles Town's books that motorists going through town have to have someone walking 15 feet in front of their vehicle carrying a lantern.

"I think I'll start enforcing it now," Aldridge said with a laugh.

The parking ticket issue arose last month when a Charles Town police officer wrote 19 tickets to motorists parking in the wrong direction on Samuel Street and the surrounding neighborhood.

Residents complained to council members that they had parked in that manner for more than 20 years without receiving tickets.

Aldridge said the officer involved had come from the Shepherdstown, W.Va., police department, where the law is enforced. The law also is enforced in Ranson, W.Va., and the town generates a significant amount of revenue from the tickets, he said.

Aldridge and several of the council members said town officials should consider having the law enforced again.

Aldridge said the law makes sense because when drivers pull away from being parked on the wrong side of a street, they have to cross a lane of traffic in the wrong direction.

"I don't know how we're going to say we're not going to enforce a state law," said Charles Town Mayor J. Randolph Hilton.

But other council members said the town has gotten along without enforcing the law.

"Has it been a problem? If not, let sleeping laws lie," said council member John Rendeiro.

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