SPOKANE, Wash. - Parking in a taxi zone in downtown Spokane could be a real pain in your wallet.
"I'll be the first to admit, that these taxi zone tow away signs might be a little too tall to easily see, especially at night, but now that the city is writing $250 tickets, looking up is well worth your while."
They are supposed to be the spots outside downtown Spokane bars where you should always be able to find a cab.
However, as the nightlife heats up, cabbies say they can't find a place to park to pickup their fares.
Bill Boomer, driver for Bill's Friendly Rides, explained that "we cannot get in our taxi zones. We have to double park on their street to pick up our clients and when the bar lets out we have nowhere to park."
That's why the Washington State Patrol asked the City of Spokane to start protecting parking for cabs.
WSP is worried about people who've had too much to drink not being able to readily find a cab. DUIs continue to be a serious problem.
On October 3rd alone, Spokane troopers charged seven people with DUIs.
The city has also put some parking enforcement officers on the night shift, when most of the taxi zone violations happen.
Since June, they've written 294 citations and 72 warning tickets.
Sometimes, first time offenders are getting a break from the $250 fines.
"Typically those are people where this is their first offense, so we're educating people along with the enforcement piece," said Brian Coddington, Communications Director for the City of Spokane. "Education is always first, but for those that this is not their first time, their first offense, they typically end up with a citation. About 20 percent of the time, we actually issue a warning rather than a citation to folks."
Some think that appealing the hefty fine will be their way out.
But Coddington warned, "people who've taken their tickets to municipal court have had their fines reduced but only by a hundred dollars. So, do yourself a favor and look for these signs or you'll find yourself with a very sobering citation on your windshield."
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