Live 5 Investigates: More than 166K parking tickets written in downtown Charleston last year

VIDEO: Live 5 Investigates: More than 166K parking tickets written in downtown Charleston last year

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A parking ticket can make anyone’s day go south really quickly, but what are the chances of you getting one in downtown Charleston?

Through the Freedom of Information Act, Live 5 News requested details for every ticket written in downtown Charleston last year and received more than 2,309 pages of data.

After analyzing the information, officers wrote more than 166,000 tickets, a number those with the City of Charleston say is pretty on par.

“I think we average about 14,000 to 17,000 tickets a month,” Robert Somerville, the Deputy Director for the city’s Department of Traffic and Transportation, said.

We took a poll on Twitter to see where viewers thought the most tickets were written – and those who voted were right on the money.

In looking through thousands of ticket data from the city, the top three streets for tickets were Wentworth Street, Broad Street and King Street. More than 30,000 tickets were written on the longest street of the peninsula – nearly five times more than the next highest.

“It’s a commercial area,” Somerville said. “I believe we have the most meters on King Street, as well as Loading Zones. And it’s a popular area. People want to go down there and shop. You have the restaurants and the nightlife as well.”

The top ten streets for tickets are as follows:

-King Street: 30,122

-Broad Street: 6,179

-Wentworth Street: 4,546

-St. Phillip Street: 4,377

-Medical University: 4,123

-East Bay Street: 4,081

-Church Street: 3,859

-Calhoun Street: 3,830

-South Market Street: 3,327

-North Market Street: 3,307

The above information is based off the data the City of Charleston provided. A small portion of the data did not include all of the information requested, which could provide for a small margin of error.

Many Charleston residents aren’t surprised because they see parking attendants frequently.

“It’s definitely a constant like bees buzzing around,” Maggie Wehunt, who lives and works downtown, said. “They’re pretty adamant about it.”

According to the data, the officer who wrote the most tickets was Maria Wilkes. With more than 10,000 tickets last year – she averaged at least 200 per week.

“She is a thorough employee,” Somerville said. “She does her job well. We get customer comment cards and we get them about her saying just how professional she is and how polite she is.”

But what kinds of tickets are people getting? More than 83,000 were written for meter violations, 27,000 for residential parking overtime and more than 26,000 tickets for people parking in a prohibited zone.

According to the data, October was the month most tickets were written. The most tickets given in one day, however, was Nov. 14 – with 940 tickets written during the workday.

And while many aren’t happy when they get a ticket, most times they know they probably deserved it…

“I know the ticketing people are just doing their jobs like how I’m doing my job,” Wehunt said. “They get paid to do what they’re doing. They want to do a good job at it.”

City leaders said they do try and help people out by allowing them to come and explain why their ticket should be dismissed.

“Basically you sit down with the Adjudication Officer, they make a recommendation, that goes before the judge, and then the judge will sign off on the ticket if it’s decided to be upheld or dismissed,” Somerville explained.

Ticket hearings are held at the Revenue Collections Parking Division office at the following address and times: 180 Lockwood Boulevard 2nd Floor Charleston, SC 29403

Monday and Tuesday: 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday: 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Officials ask you to bring your citation and any other documentation that may support your appeal.

Live 5 News asked for the number of tickets that were dismissed last year. The city is working on getting that information.

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