Fairfax County Under Fire From Local Auto Repair Shops for Ticketing Cars Awaiting Inspection


auto repair shopFor the past few years, auto repair shop owners in the Mariah Business Center industrial park have been at odds with local parking enforcement officials who insist on scouring their lots for vehicles with expired stickers waiting for car inspections, according to The Washington Post.
Bruce Redwine, owner of Chantilly Service Center and one of the estimated 701,100 auto mechanics in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, finally had enough earlier this summer. He saw Fairfax County parking enforcement officer Jacquelyn D. Hogue, notorious for ticketing cars in the lot, approaching his auto repair shop and instantly knew what it was about.
He had just pulled a car that needed auto inspection into his shop in an attempt to avoid her wrath, but the move was unsuccessful as she already had the ticket written. Before she could even hand him the ticket, though, he snatched it out of her hand and threw some profanity-laced shade in her direction. She responded by calling the local police department and had him arrested for felony assault on a police officer, even though she isn’t a real cop and he claims to have never even touched her.
“They’re harassing the small businesses trying to make it in this tough economy,” said Ray Barrera of AandH Equipment Repair, another auto repair shop in the Mariah Business Center industrial park.
Parking officials are allowed onto the private property only because of a letter that the owner of the business center sent in 2009 specifically granting police permission to enforce county traffic, parking, and towing ordinances. Presumably the intent was to keep illegally parked cars from using the space, but instead it’s turned into a breeding ground for predatory ticketing techniques.
Redwine was later acquitted of the charge on jury appeal after the first judge sentenced him to four days in prison. Although it was a relief to be found innocent of the charge, it still doesn’t change the fact he faces thousands of dollars in legal fees as well as the fact that he’s now been booked, fingerprinted, and had his mugshot taken for something so ridiculous.
This on top of the fact that he claims to have spent thousands of dollars, $2,200 in one month alone, covering the tickets his patrons have gotten while leaving their car with him. About 25% of drivers admitted to neglecting repairs/maintenance in the last year and with the average repair cost coming to about $305 in the U.S., it wouldn’t be good business to leave customers with even more of a burden.
“In order to retain my clientele, I would eat the ticket,” Redwine said. “I don’t want to give them a bill for repairs and add on $50 for a ticket. You think they’ll come back?”
The auto repair shop owners realize the officers have permission to issue tickets in the lot, but they’re asking for common sense and discretion. Not only are they scaring away customers, but they’re also severely hurting local small businesses still recovering from the recent economic downturn. Standard protocol among the shop workers is to stop everything and start shuffling cars inside garages anytime Hogue is spotted in the lots vicinity.