How To Avoid Those Pesky Orange Tickets
We are just about to dive into the nuts and bolts of fighting parking tickets.
But before we start that, I want to do a short piece on AVOIDING parking tickets.
Obviously, the best strategy with parking tickets is to never get them. Of course, I’m not one to lecture, based on the numbers of tickets that I’ve received. But I want you to learn from the mistakes (the many, many, painful mistakes) that I have made.
1-Know Your Parking Environment
If, like many Chicagoans who don’t have a garage or can’t afford offstreet parking, and you park on the street, you need to be intimate with the parking environment around where you live and park.
Take a walk or drive up and down the street, around the block. Make note of the signs and parking restrictions. Make note of the fire hydrants, stop signs, cross walks, handicapped parking spaces, etc.
2-Check Out Other People’s Tickets
When you see tickets on other cars, it may make sense to quickly (before someone catches you messing with their ride and tries to kick your ass) check out their ticket to see what they were ticketed for. This could give you some insight into the minds of some of the cops patrolling the neighborhood to see what violations they’re trolling for.
We have an asshole cop in our neighborhood that comes through about 3 AM every two weeks like clockwork that is always looking for city vehicle sticker violations, tinted windows and other minor infractions–some of them warranted, but most of them not.
3-Know Your Street Cleaning Schedule
Street cleaning is the bane of the street parker. Many city apartment dwellers will park their cars on the street for the entire week while they commute daily to work. So paying attention to the bright orange Street Cleaning signs that materialize from nowhere to sabotage comfortable parking hibernation spot.
A lot of people don’t know this, but street cleanings are not random events. Street cleaning is scheduled well in advance of the street cleaning season, which runs once a month per side of street from late March to late November.
Check with your alderman’s office for the schedule of street cleaning for the season on ALL the streets where you park, not just the street where you live as you may park around the corner from your house or apartment.
Slap the schedule(s) on your fridge and input it into your Blackberry, Treo or other phone. Write it on your calendar. That way you can be prepared and know ahead of time when you have to move your car.
Here’s a weblink to the street cleaning schedules for all Chicago’s 50 wards.
4-Read The Signs!!!
Take the time to read the signs where you are parking. Sometimes, scratch that, many times you will find confusing and contradictory signs posted along the streets of Chicago. Take the time to read and understand the restrictions of where you are parking. If it’s a timed restriction, check your clock and make sure you are not parking there when the restriction is in effect, and make sure you return before the time restriction kicks in.
5-If You’re Not Sure, Don’t Park There
If the signs are so confusing that you get so dizzy you want to puke…don’t park there. Better safe than ticketed.
And really, I am less worried about the driver not understanding the confusing signage, I don’t trust the dumb ass ticket writer who may not be able to read the signs correctly, understand the law, the law or is motivated by a quota.
6-Embrace Your Inner Paranoia
Paranoia is your friend. Love your paranoia. It will serve you well. Overconfidence and cockiness are not your friends. Do not trust their sweet allure. Always behave as if a revenue officer is just around the corner, waiting and sexually aroused at the idea of giving your car a ticket. So don’t take your chances thinking you don’t have to feed the meter or you can double park to “just run in for a minute.” You are playing with fire!!!
7-Pay Attention To The Time
Check the time when you feed your meter. Then make note of when you need to return to feed the meter or leave. I have a timed memo function in my cell phone that I set to remind me when my meter expires. Watch the clock!
8-Stop, Think, Park
In other words, don’t be stupid. Sometimes, just taking an extra second to think, will prevent you from making a dumb mistake. Just use common sense whenever you can.
I hear alcohol may impair your judgement. So when bar hopping, even if you’re not technically blotto, and you feel that rush of false confidence screaming at you to park in front of that fire hydrant, so you can get to the next bar–ignore it and just pay the valet. It will be cheaper in the long run than getting the ticket.
Hope all this helps. I wish I had followed my own advice in the past.
If you have any parking ticket avoidance tips, we would welcome your input.