If you're thinking about appealing a parking ticket, be prepared to present your defense and know what will leverage your side of the case
You drove into the city to meet a friend for coffee. The spot you parked in was metered until 6:00 p.m., which was only 45 minutes away, so you paid up until that time and walked down the street. Two hours later, you return to find a bright orange ticket under the windshield wiper. What happened?
You did everything right (so it seems) and you still got a ticket. Should you appeal?
Appealing a parking ticket is sometimes effort more than it's worth but, once in a while, it's the right choice. A clear mistake is easier to reverse than you may expect.
Phase one: review the ticket and appeal information
Read through the ticket and know exactly what you are being charged for. Do all of the details match up with your car, the location, and timing of the citation? These are important details and any mistakes will provide leverage for your appeal.
Details you need to watch for:
- Is the description and location of your vehicle accurate?
- Are there any alterations or crossed out notes? These could automatically dismiss the ticket!
- Does the timing make sense? If the ticket was cited for 2:00 p.m. and you parked at 2:30, that will constitute a good claim.
If you feel there was a mistake, read through the appeal information on the ticket and follow the steps. It's a good idea to begin the process immediately by calling the number listed. You don't want to wait and miss the deadline for requesting a hearing.
Phase two: gather evidence for your case
Now is the time to whip out your smartphone and take pictures of the car. Any evidence you can gather will be useful and appropriate (so don't be shy!).
The burden of proof for the municipal or city government does not need to be extensive. They will usually make a decision on your appeal by considering "how likely" it is that you committed the offense. So make sure to gather as much evidence as possible to support your defense.
- If any parking signs were obstructed from the vehicle's vantage points, take pictures to show this.
- Are any signs illegible or missing?
- If the meter was broken, record it on your phone.
- Did anyone see the officer write the ticket? Witnesses can help your appeal.
Phase three: appeal the parking ticket (in person)
It may be possible to contest parking tickets online or through the mail. Don't make this mistake. Your best chance of winning an appeal is to request a hearing. Most people, regardless of a wrongful ticket, would rather pay the fine than go to court. Persistence may work in your favor.
Make sure you show up to the hearing on time and dressed appropriately. It's true that hearings are not as formal as court proceedings, but dressing nicely won't hurt.
Present your defense to the judge and clearly explain why you believe the ticket was wrongfully cited.
- Listen and answer questions clearly.
- Be respectful and keep your emotions and reactions in check.
- Present the evidence you gathered and give all the details of your defense.
- If you brought a witness, you can call on him or her to speak on your behalf.
Only fight the winning battles
If you're just angry about the situation, don't put yourself through the trouble of appealing a parking ticket. Take your mistake in stride and pay the fine as soon as possible. If you believe the ticket was a mistake, but don't have much evidence to back up the claim, you may be able to get your ticket dismissed. However, gathering sufficient evidence is very important to the outcome of your appeal.
If you have a less-than-perfect driving record due to various citations, multiple claims, or motor vehicle violations, we have auto insurance coverage for you.
Have you ever appealed a parking ticket before? What was your experience? Share your story in the comments!