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How to Dispute a Parking Ticket

How to Dispute a Parking Ticket

Dispute Your Parking Ticket and Save Money

Disputing a parking ticket can be irritating, but it’s not impossible.  Follow the directions on your ticket, gather evidence, and file an official appeal.  You could also use DoNotPay, a service dedicated to helping people fight legal battles in a stress-free, affordable manner. 

Of all the tickets one can receive, a parking ticket can be the most frustrating. By taking advantage of your options, you can save money and avoid an unfair charge.  Read on to find out more!

Make Sure You Qualify for an Appeal

Before attempting to dispute your parking ticket, your first step should be to make sure that you qualify for an appeal in the first place.

To effectively dispute a ticket, you must be able to prove that you weren’t aware of the violation you were committing or were prevented from paying.  In other words, you’ve got to have a leg to stand on before starting your argument!

  Reasons to dispute a ticket include:

  • There were a lack of signs indicating you weren’t supposed to park there.
  • Signs were present but difficult to read or confusingly worded.
  • You were given no way to pay; this can include a broken parking meter.
  • You were unable to get back to your vehicle, either due to blocked off areas or a personal disability.
  • Your vehicle happened to break down, proving impossible to move.
  • You were ten minutes late or less.
  • Though it was your car, you weren’t driving at the time. 
  • There were emergency circumstances to consider.

You should be able to give a clear reason that you were incapable of moving your car before the time allowed.  

When considering whether you may have a case or not, it can also be helpful to know what doesn’t qualify for an appeal.  You won’t get very far with your case if you say any of the following:

  • “I had nowhere else to park.”
  • “I had to leave and find change for the meter.”
  • “I didn’t see the signs until after I’d parked there.”
  • “I’m sorry, but I can’t afford this fine.”
  • “I just had to park in this spot for a few minutes!”
  • “This regulation is unfair and should be changed anyway.”

When preparing for an argument, consider this: in a busy city, everyone struggles to find parking.  Your job is to prove that in a world where everyone has the same disadvantage, you deserve to have your specific ticket torn up.  Be specific in your case, and understand what argument will and won’t get you very far!

Gather Evidence

Once you’ve decided your ticket is worthy of appeal, the next step is to gather evidence.  Make sure that the evidence you gather is clear, immediate, and, most importantly, honest!  If you are claiming that an emergency forced you to park in a restricted area, make sure there’s no security footage somewhere of you sitting in your car, eating a pizza.

Your evidence should be as specific to your appeal as possible.  If a vehicle registered in your name received this ticket after being borrowed, ask that friend who borrowed your car write a statement explaining the situation.  If you were transporting someone in an emergency situation, bring evidence that you were in the hospital at the time that the ticket was issued.  

In most cases, pictures make excellent evidence.  As soon as you see the ticket, take a picture of the ticket, the car, and the surrounding area.  In doing so, you create a timestamp of the scene.  This can be useful later when you prove that you arrived moments after the ticket was issued, or that there weren’t clear signs to prevent the violation. 

Move Your Vehicle

Once you’ve documented the scene, your next step should be to move your car as quickly as possible.  Others might be tempted to leave it there-  you’ve already received one fine; what else could happen?

Turns out, a lot!

Not only are you putting yourself at risk for having your car “booted” or even towed, but you also hurt your chances of getting this ticket appealed.  If you’re hoping to argue that you couldn’t possibly have moved your car at noon, it won’t look good once it’s revealed that you left your car in that illegal spot until midnight. 

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Don’t linger in one spot after you find your ticket; your fines will only become more serious and your car harder to move!

File an Appeal

You’ve checked to be sure you have a case.  You gathered your evidence and moved your car.  Great!  The next step is to take action to file the appeal.  

Follow the Directions

On the back of your ticket, you should find directions instructing you how to either pay your ticket or file an appeal. Make sure to read these directions carefully! Different cities, countries, and even colleges have various methods of payment and appeal.

In most cases, you’ll see a number you can call.  Sometimes, there may be a website to visit instead.  Regardless of your method, it’s important that you take action as quickly as possible!  You could have anywhere between seven and twenty-four days to file an appeal, depending on your location.  However, no matter the length of time, procrastination isn’t going to do you any favors.

Write an Appeal

Your next step is to write an official letter of appeal.  This letter should be clear and directly to the point.  Be sure to fully explain the situation.  When you’re done, it’s also a good idea to have another person look over this letter to check for clarity and grammar.  It’s important to use proper grammar and sound as professional as possible!

If the idea of writing an appeal seems scary, don’t worry!  I’ve included an easy guide below.  Just substitute your information into the blank spaces.

Appeal Guide:

To whom it may concern,

I am contesting the citation number  (your number here), which I received on (Date and Time).  This citation states my car was illegally parked at/in (location). I am writing to formally challenge this ticket for the following reasons.

According to this ticket, I violated the parking regulation by (specific reason for your ticket). However, in my situation,  (fully explain your reason here; remember to be specific, polite, and select a reason you can prove).

Attached, please find the following evidence: (briefly describe your evidence),

For the aforementioned reasons, I am requesting my ticket be dismissed.


          (your name here)            .

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When writing your appeal, be as brief and professional as possible while presenting your reasons.

Wait for the Next Step

When waiting to see if your appeal is accepted or not, it’s important that you don’t pay any fines or fees.  In doing so, you’re accepting responsibility for your actions, admitting that you knew what you were doing was wrong.  

After you’ve filed your appeal, all that’s really left to do is wait.  In most cases, you won’t be asked to appear before a court for a parking violation. Instead, you’ll simply receive a notification that your appeal has either been accepted or not, in which case you’ll be expected to pay your ticket.

If you lose this first appeal, you always have the option to file another. In this case, you’ll be responsible for filing an official application and appearing before an administrative law judge to plead your case. Before taking this step, however, you may want to consider your chances.  

How likely is it that the judge will change his mind?  Is this fee worth your time?

Alternative: Consider the DoNotPay App

Rather than undergoing the lengthy and annoying process of disputing a parking ticket on your own, you may consider using the help of the DoNotPay app.

Commonly known as the “world’s first robot lawyer,” this service was originally created to help people cut through the “bureaucratic red tape” that makes handling any legal issue so confusing.  This site was originally created with parking tickets in mind, and that’s exactly how it’s made its name.  To date, DoNotPay has helped successfully appeal thousands of unfair parking tickets!

From those humble beginnings, the service expanded to cover a range of other legal issues.  Today, DoNotPay can almost function as a personal legal assistant. It can help you fight for child custody, request sick leave, lower bills, and even fight spam emails!

Before signing up, it’s important to note that while affordable, this is a subscription service.  For some, the monthly fee is worth the peace of mind that comes with consistent legal protections.  For others, it’s enough to lead them to fight these battles on their own.  Regardless of what path you choose, it’s important that you be aware of your options. 

Final Thoughts

For most people, parking tickets are a bother, for others who live in a major city they are a part of life.  We’ve all been there, and chances are we’ll all be there again.  By knowing how to fight an unfair parking ticket, you empower yourself with the valuable knowledge you need going forward!

For those who find themselves short of time and exhausted by the possibility of legal work, DoNotPay offers an easy alternative to fighting the system all on your own. 

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Jessica Richburg is a freelance writer and educator. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, she's located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where she passes the time reading, writing, and trying not to be eaten by her feral cat.