Courts & Crime

Everything's bigger in Texas, like a $640 parking ticket

ARLINGTON, Texas — Tweed Clark stopped briefly at the Arlington Municipal Court to pay her daughter's $250 speeding ticket.So, how did Clark end up with a $640 parking violation of her own?

Clark admits that she parked in a yellow-striped space next to a handicap space for a few minutes March 8 but said she never saw a "no parking" sign until after an officer pointed it out to her while writing the ticket.

In Arlington, the fine for blocking access to a handicap parking space — the violation for which Clark was cited — is the same as for illegally parking in a handicap space.

Clark, who is fighting the citation, said she has written and called Mayor Robert Cluck and other city leaders asking them to consider reducing the fine. She also wrote a jeer in the Star-Telegram calling the city "crazy" for how much it charges.

"It's outrageous," Clark said. "I wasn't driving drunk. I wasn't speeding in a school zone."

If Clark had been speeding 35 mph over the limit in a school zone, her fine would have been $324, about half of the parking ticket cost, according to the court's website.

Deputy City Manager Bob Byrd said the city doesn't typically have visitors illegally parking in or blocking the handicap spaces in front of City Tower, which houses the court.

Visitors who want to avoid paying the parking meters in front of the building compete for the limited spaces on the first floor of the garage. Byrd said many people don't realize that there are also free spaces on the top level of the garage.

Clark, who has hired an attorney, said she wants to raise awareness about her costly mistake.

"I felt like the whole city of Arlington, Dallas and Fort Worth should hear about it," Clark said of writing to the Star-Telegram. "I have told everybody in the city. I've got such a big mouth."

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