Setting aside the obvious number of people who made up the "Uh, uh, it was broken" excuse to get out of paying their tickets, what's to account for non-liars' stories?
Oh, just a Robot War, that's all:
How is this possible? One explanation, according to DDOT, is that 74 percent of D.C.’s 15,453 meters are designed to self-correct, but are also “at the end of their useful life.” So a person who parks at a meter displaying a “fail” message may return an hour later to find a working meter flashing zero time and a ticket on the windshield — a process that may repeat several times a day. [...]
“It was a news flash to me that we had this huge number of meters that are self-repairing,” Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham, chairman of the public works committee, said Thursday.
Just in case you missed that, the "chairman of the public works committee" had no idea that our parking meters are built with minds of their own and feign death only to steal your money later.