You're walking to your car and your stomach drops as the feeling of dread sinks in. On your windshield, you spot it. It's that piece of paper that's about to take a chunk out of your paycheck.
Only, it's not. Not this time. Not today.
Drew Silverman was one of those people who thought he was going to walk up to a ticket from the Philadelphia Parking Authority only to find that the piece of paper on his windshield was a warning, not a fine, thanks to a relatively new PPA policy.
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"When you first see that slip on the front of your car you think, 'Oh God, I just got a ticket,'" Silverman said.
He had parked his car near the intersection of 17th and Lombard streets when he first saw the piece of paper. When he got closer and noticed something other than a ticket, he couldn't believe his eyes.
Even when Silverman read the warning notice -- "Please renew your inspection ASAP to avoid a $41.00 parking violation" -- he thought it was a prank or a nice neighbor's creative way of reminding him to renew his inspection.
But it was real. The courtesy notices are part of an agency-wide policy put in place last year, PPA spokesman Marty O'Rourke said. Under the policy, people are given a 15-day grace period from the date their inspection sticker expires before PPA officers start issuing tickets.
"The emphasis is basically about awareness, instead of going the punitive route," O'Rourke said. "If someone forgets that their inspection has expired, it's just a polite reminder to get your car inspected."
O'Rourke said the warnings are a way to provide better customer service and satisfaction, something Silverman thinks is working.
"I certainly don't associate the PPA with nice, generous behavior usually, so that was nice surprise," Silverman said.
However, the PPA's policy is not the PPD's policy, meaning police officers can still give people tickets the day after someone's inspection sticker expires, O'Rourke said. So, it's probably best for Silverman and others to get their inspection renewed sooner rather than later.