Did you recently get a parking ticket that you felt is not justifiable or fair? Do you want to learn what you can do to fight and avoid paying tickets written on biased grounds? In this guide, we’ll give you the steps to fighting parking tickets.
Millions of parking tickets get written each year across the US. Often, the parking officers who write them find practical reasons to issue them. Yet, sometimes, the issued parking tickets can cite unreasonable or excessive causes.
If you feel you’re in the right and mustn’t pay the fine, keep reading. Other than the steps to take to fight a parking ticket, we’ve also included some useful tips. Learn what you need to do to avoid paying a fine that you don’t deserve.
1. Take Photos and Videos
The moment you get issued an unjust parking ticket, gather evidence of the site right away. Take photos of the parking area and your car. Put more focus on the dispute or issue on the parking ticket.
For example, the parking officer is fining you for parking in a no-parking area. Yet, you don’t see any clear signs indicating it’s a no-parking zone.
Take photos of the area or the obstructed no parking sign. Remember that the sign must be clear and placed in a spot that’s easy to spot.
Let’s say that the issue is an expired meter, but you suspect that it’s broken. Confirm first that the parking meter isn’t working right. Once you verify that the parking meter is faulty, take a video of it to use as proof.
Do the same with other issues you may have about the violation. Let’s say you parked near a no-parking zone but not in it. Ensure the bumper of your car doesn’t go over the yellow marks that indicate the no-parking space.
Take a photo or video to prove you aren’t going over the yellow line. Don’t forget to take photos of parking tickets as well. Even if you misplace them, you’ll have a digital or photographic copy.
It’ll take you time and extra coins to check that a parking meter isn’t working, but it’ll be cheaper than paying the fine. Across the US, the average fee of a parking ticket costs $40.
2. Look for Mistakes, Changes, or Alterations on the Ticket
Step two is reading parking tickets. Check what’s written on yours. Make sure that you can understand the citation.
A parking ticket needs to hold the following data:
- State of registration
- Registration expiration date
- Body type
- Plate type
- Place of occurrence
- Days or hours a rule is in effect
When you go over this information, make sure that everything on it is correct. One piece of miswritten information gets you a technical defense against the ticket.
Every piece of information on the paper must be clear and precise. Scratches, changes, and alterations are also unlawful in some cities.
You should also pay attention to the steps in the ticket about how you can contest it. The citation will also include how much time you have to do so. If you wait too long or ignore the ticket, you’ll incur a penalty and you’ll have to pay the late fee.
3. Research the Statute and Violation
Don’t go into court to fight the ticket without knowing your case. Find out everything you need to know about the violation written on the parking ticket. Read federal, state, and city laws related to the issue.
Recheck the ticket and look for the statute that you violated. You’ll find it as a checked box or a written set of numbers. If nothing of the sort is on the ticket, you’re already off the hook.
When you find the statute, look it up online. You can also go to City Hall or the local library to find the statute. With it, verify that you weren’t in the wrong and didn’t violate the statute.
Reasons to Dispute a Parking Ticket
Here are the other reasons to dispute a parking ticket. It includes having an illegible or hard-to-read ticket. You can also dispute a ticket if you can prove that you aren’t the vehicle owner.
If the ticket holds any incorrect information, you can also fight it. Even an incorrect date of issuance, time, or county can void the ticket. Missing specifications like “front of” or “5 meters from” can null a ticket because of its ambiguity.
If your car got stolen and you can prove it, you can also fight the ticket. If you got overcharged or used a malfunctioning parking meter, dispute it. Don’t forget that missing, incorrect, and hidden signs can also keep you from paying your fine.
Read more about what to do after a ticket the moment you find errors on it.
4. Speak to and Gather Statements From Witnesses
You may not be the only one who didn’t see the parking sign. You may also not be the only one who thought that the place you parked wasn’t a no-parking zone. If you can gather witnesses who will testify for you, you can beat your parking ticket.
Ask a passerby who saw or can see the situation if they agree that you don’t deserve the ticket. Get permission from them if they’re willing to testify in court for you.
When they agree, take their names and contact numbers. If you had a friend with you, you could also grab them as your witness.
5. Contest Your Ticket as Soon as You Can
Don’t wait for time to run out before you start fighting parking tickets. It will only lead to more fees. Plus, you never know what kind of emergency or event may prevent you from taking that last-minute action.
The deadline for contesting a parking ticket will differ by county or city. The same applies to late fees. If you miss the deadline, you’ll lose the chance to contest your ticket.
6. Present Your Defenses First
Most parking citations aren’t from expired meters or parking in no-parking zones. Rather, they get written because the car owner blocked the street sweeper. If this is the case, and you’re sure that you weren’t in the wrong, present it first when you get to court.
Judges handle a lot of cases in a day and often don’t like dillydallying. When you present yours, jump straight to your point. When you do this, the judge is more likely to dismiss your parking ticket.
7. Connect the Parking Sign to the Place of Occurrence
Let’s say that the issue is that the no-parking sign isn’t visible or clear. It’s not enough to take a photo of the sign and your parking spot. It won’t be enough to prove your innocence to the judge.
You need to also connect the rule displayed on the parking sign with the place of occurrence on the ticket. How do you do it? Create a slideshow, go to Google Maps, and use digital highlights on your parking ticket if you must.
Walk the judge through the location with a screenshot of the map. Explain why you weren’t in the wrong when you were parking in the area. For example, it was a weekend, and the no-parking times are only from 9 AM to 5 PM on weekdays.
8. Stay Honest During the Hearing
When fighting parking tickets, you don’t want to create elaborate stories or excuses. When you get the chance to speak to a judge, be honest and sincere. Judges have a talent for sniffing out people who lie outright or exaggerate their stories.
Avoid Saying the Wrong Things
When you go up and present your case to the judge, don’t make excuses. The judge has likely heard all the common ones countless times already. They often have answers to them, especially when the excuses are irrational.
Don’t use ignorance of the law to get out of paying the fine. As they say, ignorance is not a good defense in any way. And don’t say that you can’t afford the ticket either.
Parking officers can’t grant you immunity, so avoid saying you checked with them. Avoid admitting to prior violations.
Don’t say, “I did this before, and it was fine then.” Instead of making excuses, present your case the best way you know.
Did you know that the average US driver spends 17 hours every year looking for a parking spot, costing them $345 in wasted time? Next time, avoid getting a parking ticket. It may cost you $345 after 17 collective hours, but you’ll also avoid the hassle and fines of getting a ticket.
Your Guide to Fighting Parking Tickets
Those are our tips and some steps to take when you’re fighting parking tickets. The next time you get issued a biased or unwarranted parking citation, you know what to do.
If you want to learn about disputing parking tickets online, see our other guides now.