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This Guy Got Stuck With $12,000 In Parking Tickets

Car Culture

Sometimes you pay a price for being a smartass.

Nobody likes a parking ticket. Nobody likes spending time and energy looking for a parking space in a congested area either. The former tends to outweigh the latter, and that's why we don't live in utter chaos. But, what if you could beat the system with a cute little hack and never get a ticket? Well, according to Mashable, one security researcher found out how not to do it.

Avoiding tickets wasn't exactly what the researcher, known as 'Droogie,' was planning when he had the idea of getting a vanity plate reading as NULL. He claims he knew there was an off chance that having the programming term for no specific value could mess with the DMV's computer system, but that wasn't the aim. "I was like, ‘I'm the shit," he joked at the DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vega this year, "I’m gonna be invisible. Instead, I got all the tickets."

Everything was fine for Droogie over the first year as he drove around on his new NULL plate. He claims that he's a cautious driver and didn't get any tickets. Then he went online to take care of his registration and broke the DMV's web page when he couldn't get the form to accept NULL as a credible input. That was just the first sign something was not right and things were about to go horrendously wrong. Droogie then managed to get himself a legitimate parking ticket, and suddenly thousands of tickets started flooding to his house through the mail and addressed to him.

It looks like what happened is that an independent citation processing center's database was incomplete. Those incompletely entered tickets likely had their license plates entered as Null, and suddenly he was in the system with a plate reading NULL. The system decided he was the one who should be paying thousands of dollars in parking tickings and started sending them out. Over $12,000 worth in total.

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Droogie did the sensible thing and contacted both the DMV and Los Angeles Police Department and explained the situation. In both cases, he was unsympathetically told to change his number plate. However, as Droogie points out, he's not doing anything wrong and it's the system that's at fault.

As it stands right now though, the company in question has struck off the tickets that had been attributed to him. But, they have neglected to fix the system and tickets are still being associated with his NULL plate. Currently, the system thinks he owes over $6,000 but Droogie has no intention of paying.

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