The Legalities of Feeding Expired Parking Meters in Phoenix – According to the Police

Parking Meter by Lauri Väin from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Parking Meter by Lauri Väin from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Starting on August 1st, Phoenix is changing to variable prices at its parking meters. Depending on when and where you park, the rate could range from $0.50 to $4.00/hour. This is a big change from the $1.50/hour rate that used to be at every meter. The other big change is enforcement times will be every day from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. – no more free nights and weekends.

The Phoenix City Council said they’re making this change in part because of the city’s $37.7 million deficit and that these new rates will bring in $800,000 for the city. I wonder how much of this expected amount is based on people paying to park versus getting tickets for expired meters.

Some people are upset by the increase – like students at the ASU downtown campus and people who work downtown. I’ve seen people on social media say that the increase will decrease the likelihood of them coming downtown, or if they do, that they’ll take the light rail ($4 for an all-day pass is probably cheaper than paying $4/hour to park). On the other hand, the increase has given me a chance to a flash mob I’ve been thinking of for years.

My partners-in-crime and I all have day jobs so our shenanigans are mostly restricted to the weekend. I had an idea years ago about being parking meter fairies – dressing up in tutus, wings, and the like and feeding people’s expired meters. Now that people will have to pay to park on the weekends, we’ll finally have a chance to pull this off if we want.

I contacted the City of Phoenix Police Department and asked them about the legalities of feeding other people’s expired parking meters and here’s what they said:

“I am not aware of any City ordinance that precludes you from putting money into someone else parking meter here in Phoenix. I know there are jurisdictions that prohibit that activity. The only concern I have is if a person were to put money in a meter after a vehicle was cited or somehow interfered with a parking enforcement officer that could be a violation of the law.”

I interpret this to mean that it’s OK to feed an expired meter (while wearing a tutu and glitter) as long as the vehicle doesn’t already have a ticket on it. (I know it’s illegal to do this in other cities, so do your research before you try to pull off a similar stunt.)

Flash Mob Law bookBesides my flash mob idea, I wonder if downtown businesses will feed their patrons’ parking meters in front of their establishments or if someone will create a sponsored crew of meter feeders like the Surfers Paradise Meter Maids in Australia.

As always, if you want to do a flash mob, do you research in advance to ensure that you don’t set yourself up to get sued or arrested because of your event. If you need a resource, check out my book Flash Mob Law or contact me on TwitterFacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
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