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Legal How-To: Fighting a Parking Ticket

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

A parking ticket may be a strict liability offense where you live, but you're still allowed to fight it. In fact, there are a variety of potential ways to fight a parking ticket.

Here are a few strategies for fighting a parking ticket that you may want to consider:

  1. Examine your ticket carefully. After you receive your ticket, look it over carefully to find out where you need to show up to contest the ticket. Be sure to also note any deadlines. If you fail to follow the rules in a timely manner, you may incur extra fees. While examining the ticket, look for potential mistakes. This can include the wrong name, car, time, or location. If you notice a scribbled correction, be sure to point that out. It may be considered an alteration and can sometimes warrant a dismissal.
  2. Know the local law. Using local traffic laws that are in your favor can help you get a ticket dismissed. For example, some parking statutes require that the car be left unoccupied at a red-painted curb or in front of a fire hydrant in order to be ticketed. If you were in the vehicle, that might be a way to get out of the ticket.
  3. Present evidence. If you decide to fight a parking ticket, evidence is crucial. If the parking area has confusing language, missing or faded signs, or is shrouded in thick foliage, a photo of the area can provide the judge with more information about the situation -- and ideally, make him or her more sympathetic to your parking plight. Definitely snap photos of parking signs that are obscured by graffiti or bumper stickers.
  4. Pick an inconvenient court date. This is a sneaky procedural tactic, but in most places, if the officer who issued the ticket doesn't show up in court, the ticket will be thrown out.
  5. Jump through the hoops. Fighting parking tickets is often more a test of endurance than a test of legal knowledge. If you go through the whole procedural rigmarole -- writing and mailing the complaint, showing up in court and so forth -- you may find yourself being rewarded for fighting it to the bitter end. At the very least, it's likely your ticket amount will be reduced.
  6. Be apologetic, honest and respectful. If all else fails, be a decent human being. Don't attack the officer's credibility or be argumentative. No one likes a jerk. Instead, own up to the mistake and say you've learned your lesson. Don't ever lie to a judge. It's illegal (and dumb), and the judge will probably call your bluff. Humility and honesty go a long way with judges.

Need More Help?

Of course these are just a few potential arguments, and each parking ticket case is different. For more complex cases, or if you need personal advice on the best way to fight your parking ticket, consider consulting an experienced traffic ticket lawyer near you.

Are you facing a legal issue you'd like to handle on your own? Suggest a topic for our Legal How-To series by sending us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #HowTo.

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