Parking Ticket 101- Know The Law!


Now that you’ve received your ticket, and looked over and documented the parking environment where you received the ticket, it’s time to start preparing your defense.

The first thing to do is to look up and read the law.

The great thing about the internet age, is that you can access city of Chicago municipal code right from your computer.

Before, you had to haul your ass down to the local library and try to locate the arm bustingly heavy, black bound tomes that contain all of Chicago’s municipal laws, rules and regulations.

Now all of it available online.

City of Chicago Municipal Code – Parking Regulations

For easy reference, here is a list in summary form, of all parking related violation in Chicago.

City of Chicago Parking Violations

So go ahead and look on your ticket for the exact code violation in the municipal code.

You can either browse to your violation, or do a search by the specific violation number. If you don’t see your violation number just browsing, do a search.

Take the time to read through the code.

Look, I know you’re not Denny Crane or Perry Mason. I understand you’re not an attorney. But you’re a reasonably intelligent person (you wouldn’t be reading this website if you were a moron) and can understand this if you just go slow and read through it a few times. It may take you 5, 6, 10 times to do so, but it will be worth it.

Look, if a dolt like me can do it, you can certainly can do it too.

Because if the violation on the ticket does not accurately represent what the law says, and you can prove and/or argue that this wasn’t the case, you should beat the ticket.

The reason you need to know the law you’re fighting is because many hearing officers DO NOT KNOW the law.

One would think, someone who is an attorney, who is presiding over hearings and/or adjudicating parking tickets as their job–part-time or otherwise–would be intimate with this municipal code.

While there are many fine, knowledgeable hearing officers, a great number–a shockingly great number–DO NOT KNOW the law.

I have had to cite the law to hearing officers many a time. In addition, when waiting to have my hearings, I have listened to many hearing officers offer erroneous interpretation of the laws.

I guess I shouldn’t be shocked, we live in Chicago.

But let it put it this way. If a goof like me, a true dumbass, non-lawyer, knows the law better than a lawyer whom spent three years and thousands of dollars for law school and who is paid to adjudicate this area of the law, something is wrong, wrong, WRONG!!!

Let me give you a few examples of how knowledge of the code has helped.

1-A reader was parked at an address in a Non-Central Business District, but was ticketed for “Central Business District” (aka Downtown). When he pointed this out to the hearing officer, it was dismissed. Knowing the law let him beat the ticket.

2-I’ve been ticketed for parking 20 feet from a cross walk. But if you read the law, a sign must be posted. My photos showed no sign so the ticket got tossed.

3- A buddy of mine drives a delivery van for a living. He was parked in a loading zone and was inside a building dropping off some boxes. When he got back, he had a ticket. But the law allows for 30 minutes of time to unload your delivery. He fought, told his story and won.

For all these reasons, you should at least read over the violation listed on your ticket in the municipal code, so you can be better prepared for your hearing or to quote in your contest letter.

135 Responses to Parking Ticket 101- Know The Law!

  1. Drew says:


    The municipal ordinance is specific on that one.

    No Parking/No Standing means not to stop/stand/drop off/pick up/pause for anything other than a red light or to make a turn/not supposed to yield/not allowed in that particular location at all because the Director of Transportation said so.

    Bet this happened in the Loop

  2. Kenneth says:

    Can the CPD enter onto a private, residential parking lot and issue parking citations?

  3. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Hi Kenneth,

    The answer is yes and no.

    In general, police or other city ticket writers can enter onto private parking lots if it is A) accessible to the public from the public way (street, alley or sidewalk) and B) is unfenced and unlocked.

    They cannot enter a locked, fenced lot or a private garage.

    They can also enter a privately owned, public garage as the terms of their permit with the city allows parking enforcement on the premises.

  4. Drew says:

    Actually Geek,

    We can enter a locked, fenced or private garage if it is Licensed by the City.

    Only 5% of all the Private Lots, Public Garages, Parking Lots/structures, Accessory Garages in the City of Chicago are off limits Legally to CPD or Dept of Finance Ticket Writers.

    If you want the Comprehensive list of where City Ticket Writers Can’t legally go, 744-PARK

  5. Pete says:

    A meter maid ticketed some cars for no city sticker, expired plates, tints, etc in my condo building’s private, gated and non-publicly-accessible parking garage a couple months back. The only way they could have gotten in is to sneak in when the garage door was open or follow someone in the locked side door. Cars were ticketed a few times until our board president called the dept of revenue and said we would have the meter maid arrested for trespassing if it happened again. So far, that seems to have worked.

  6. Drew says:

    Pete the ordinance is quite clear.

    But do me a personal favor…

    Get that address to the Geek and the Geek can get it to me..

    I’ll let him know if it was legal for that PEA to enter or not in the first place.

  7. Carolyn says:

    In June, I received a $100.00 ticket for double parked/standing for 7319 East 72nd Street (no such address)this would be in the middle of lake Michigan. I contested by mail. So rather than finding me not guilty according to allegation #4 they sent a new ticket request for same ticket but they changed the address to 1319 E. 72nd Street, of which I know no one at this address either, how should I protest this by mail again or in person or is this double indemnity? There are no photos and this was a Sunday and I have handicap plates. Please advise.

  8. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    The first rule of parking tickets is you should always contest a parking ticket in person (if you can).

    But what you’re saying sounds fishy.

    I’ve never heard of the city revising a ticket after it was initially issued.

    I would request a hearing and then bring BOTH tickets in and explain the city is trying to screw you over by revising the ticket after the fact.

    In fact, I would be VERY interested in checking your situation out. Can you e-mail me copies of all your tickets/documents, etc.?

    E-mail it to: info (at)

  9. Joan Kaye says:

    I received a ticket for parking in a handicapped space in NJ with an expired plackert. I was not my plackert. I had 2 failed back surgeries and see a pain specialist for daily medication due to moderate to severe pain. I am in the process of getting a handicapped plackert of my own. The ordinance number is the palckert number. Due IO have any recourse in fighting this ticket? A court appearance is required. Nearly flawless driving record over 40 years.

  10. [...] of Chicago, Office of the City Clerk Here are sites run just for dealing with parking in Chicago: Parking Ticket 101- Know The Law! | Chicago Parking Tickets | Fight And Avoid Them – Chicago Parking I can tell you where to look [...]

  11. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I am sorry, but my expertise is in Chicago area parking tickets. I would show up in court, explain that you were renewing your disability placard and that you are indeed handicapped, and see what happens.

  12. Kaitlynn says:

    My mother has recently received a ticket in the mail saying that she was parked within 15′ of a fire hydrant. The ticket was a complete surprise because a cop never came up to her to tell her and there was not a ticket given to her at the time. The area that is on the ticket is the area she usually goes to to pick up my sister but she has never left the car unattended. She says she may have been near the fire hydrant waiting for my sister but she never parked there, she was in the car the whole time. They usually send a picture of the violation and there was no picture on the ticket. It seems kind of strange to me. Aren’t parking violation tickets given then and there, unless it is a red light ticket? Why would they send that type of ticket through the mail?

  13. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Very lame situation. We helped another driver with a similar situation.

    Check out a recent Ask the Geek column:

    Fight your mom’s ticket the same way. You should win.

  14. Drew says:


    No photo means a Cop drove by and saw the car there (presumably) and wrote the ticket and dropped it into the mail at the end of shift.

    It is shitty and it is what the City considers to be a Rule 50 violation:
    Conduct unbecoming of an Officer or Public Employee.

  15. Pete says:

    If the city weren’t so thoroughly corrupt this problem could be easily fixed. Just change the law: no photo = ticket automatically dismissed. Its 2013, almost 2014. There is no reason why ANY traffic or parking tickets need to be issued anymore without photographic and/or evidence.

    It would keep everyone more honest, and not just the enforcement people. It would actually make it much harder for legit tickets to be dismissed if the vehicle owner merely lies convincingly. If the city really wants to collect every dime of legitimate ticket revenue, what do they have to lose? And please don’t say cost – digital cameras now are a dime a dozen.

  16. DoR Employee says:

    I agree with you there Pete…but there are a few slight issues.
    Due to the fact that the City is in the bad habit of awarding Low Bidders contracts…
    The Ticket machines we use in Finance and at the City Clerk have barely enough in board flash memory to store up to about 150 photos before you Have to download it via a PDT or Office Terminal.
    The current machines we’re using are the Duncan Solutions autoCITE X3.
    According to Duncan: Memory holds 64 MB – 64 MB Flash
    Doing the quick and dirty math for a moment…you can get 55-60 2-3 megpix photos onto 64mb storage. In the 150 photo range you’re looking at a camera with “maybe” .75-1.0 megpixel. And since the Flash is Optional…none of the current machines have them. So photographs to back up the citation after dark are poor quality at best even if you one hand a machine and a flashlight.
    The CPD had Finance show a pilot program of officers how to use the previous version AutoCites. Needless to say, the Cops ‘don’t want any extra gear to tote around during the shift’ since you can’t prep the machine for 3 blocks of street cleaning or rush hour in advance nor can you “Fix” the clock on the machines.
    As to Cost….Duncan is currently quoting a single unit cost at 4100.00 as of 1/25/12.
    Using that price point as accurate; 200 machines would cost the city around 820k. If you figure around 8000 of the Chicago Police Departments officers are actually in Patrol…That’s 32.8 million just to outfit that division of the CPD (obviously rough gestimate numbers here).
    And that doesn’t include a $150 per month cloud computing fee and $2.17 per ticket issued processing fee.
    2.17 per ticket fee doesn’t sound like a lot. But lets take our best ticket writer as an example…
    That PEA averages between 80 and 200 tickets a day depending on location of assignment. So let’s pick a nice round 80 tickets per day.
    80 tickets per day is 173.6 processing fee to Duncan. Currently 109 PEA’s listed here :

    18401.60 in processing fee’s per day if each PEA issues 80 in a Shift.
    There are approximately 250 days in a year that City PEA’s are on the street (not including sick time and vacations of course).

    250 days * 18401.60 = 4.6006 m in processing fees a year JUST from the Department of Finance. Not including the SER CO contractors with their Quota and the City Clerks SerCo contractors and CPM’s Meter Enforcement Staff.
    So we can Agree that Cost IS an Issue here.

    Plus there are so damn many Title 9 Municipal Ordinances and Illinois Vehicle Codes, that I actually doubt Duncan could actually make a Handheld Machine that could store all of them. They do have a Patrol Car Laptop type Unit though. But then the “poor Cop” would have to actually get out of the squad to take pictures since it is Administrative Policy that no photos are to be taken from Inside of a Unit.

    But I do go on and on about this.

  17. Pete says:

    $4100 for a machine with less functionality and capability than an iPhone? Low bidder my ass. Yes I know, that’s how it works in the world of government contracts.

    I’d love to put in a bid for $4000 per machine that fixes all of the above problems and still make a big fat profit, some of which of course would have to be kicked back to Rahm’s campaign fund in order to be magically declared the “low bidder”.

  18. DoR Employee says:


    4100 for a machine with less functionality than a 2005 cell phone.

  19. JW says:

    Yesterday, I parked on a main street (main streets usually don’t have RPP restrictions) and the only sign I saw was a “no parking when snow is 2″ or more” sign so I thought I was in the clear parking there. When I got back to my car, I saw the bright orange envelope on my windshield for no RPP displayed. After searching around, I found a sign about 1/2 a block up and the sign at the beginning of the block was turned sideways (facing the sidewalk, not street…not visible when you’re driving by) and also about 1/2 a block away. Is there any law for how close the signs must be? I feel like they’re usually closer together. If I can’t fight it that way, do you think I have a chance with the sign that wasn’t facing the street. I checked out the pictures posted online relating to my ticket and neither of them are of the RPP sign – they’re of my plates and my city sticker (with no zone on it).

  20. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    One of the main defenses to contest a ticket is that the sign was not posted or not visible. Take photos of the bent sign and then make the case that you were not able to see the sign and therefore, you should not be liable for the ticket.

    Take photos, fight it and you should win.

  21. Chip says:

    What is the actual law regarding parking 15 feet from fire hydrants? The City of Chicago official site page titled “Tips for Avoiding Parking Tickets” ( says this:

    “Most restricted parking areas are clearly marked by signs or curb markings, like tow zones, residential permit parking, and fire hydrant violations. There are other restrictions, not necessarily indicated by signs, that motorists are required to know.”

    Most of the fire hydrants in my neighborhood don’t have yellow curb markings, and the hydrants are in the middle of residential blocks on non-arterial, one-way streets. I haven’t received a ticket, but am wondering just how enforceable the regulation is if there is no curb paint? (I’m not willing to test it out; I try to avoid parking anywhere near the hydrants for fear that my estimate of 15 feet and that of a ticket-writer would differ and I would lose.) I should also say that the curbs don’t look to have EVER been painted; it’s not a case of the paint being faded. Thanks!

  22. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I agree with you. There is a disconnect between what the city says and what the city actually does.

    Just ignore the yellow paint doctrine. Make sure, when parking around hydrants you’re at least 1 car length away from the hydrant.

    You should be safe at that distance.

  23. Drew says:

    15 feet, all directions from a Fire Hydrant. 150.00$ fine.

    That simple.

  24. Hannah says:

    I just spent the weekend in Chicago (from toledo) and got 3 parking tickets within 2 days. I parked one car length into a bus loading zone. I did not see the sign at all:
    1) im from toledo (can i plead stupidity?)
    2) it was 2 am
    3) there was a branch blocking half of the sign that I took pictures of
    I plan on making clear the time i was parking my car and the tree branch blocking half of the ‘no parking’ bus zone.
    please help with any advice. the total tickets is $300 -_-

  25. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Welcome to Chicago Hannah!

    All joking aside, you need to be more careful how and where you park. Even if it’s 2 AM, you still have to read the signs.

    I would fight the ticket based on the sign being obscured. If the sign is truly blocked and your photos support this, the ticket should be dismissed.

    Use that defense in your letter (I’m assuming you’re not going to make a trip back to Chicago to fight your ticket in person).

    Just take your time with your letter and be VERY clear when you write it.

  26. Andy says:

    I received a ticket for parking in a loading zone. The first sign posted on the block, which I parked in front of, stated it was a tow zone from 4pm-6pm. I was parked there from 10pm-1am. Halfway down the block there was a sign for the loading zone from 5am-??? because it was obstructed by scaffolding. I’m pretty sure I can fight the ticket based on the obstructed sign, however I am also more interested in the fact that the sign was well over 100 feet away from me, and the area I was parked in had a sign clearly posted saying Tow Zone 4pm-6pm.

    It was in the 637 block of N State. I was perhaps 30 feet from the corner, with the 4-6 sign probably ten feet in front of me.

  27. Jeff says:

    There’s a great parking ticket trap on Grand, between Dearborn and Clark. Meters there lure parkers to late night clubs on the weekends. But there is one tiny little sign far away from the parking kiosk, which notes that the street is a tow zone from 11 pm to 5 am (obviously designed as a trap for night clubbers in the area who feed the meter at 10:30 pm but don’t realize they are ticket/tow eligible in 31 minutes. Another piece of our parking ponzi scheme in action.

  28. Erica says:

    I received a ticket in a tow zone @ 1250 Morse. The building is a high rise senior home with a u shape driveway for easy drop off. There is a tow sign followed by yellow curb one car length long, then the driveway, then a space where three cars can park (where I was), then drive way, then more yellow and another tow sign. What is the law on distance from tow sign? It really is not in view of the three seemly open spots but there is also a huge driveway separating the sign from these spots. Cars are parked there right now. can you help.

  29. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    We’d have to see photos of the signs and parking environment in general.

    It sounds like a confusing area to park, so it’s hard to tell for sure if you were parked legally or not.

    If you can, send photos to: info (at) theexpiredmeter (dot) com

    And then we’ll look ‘em over.

  30. Amanda says:

    Is it a law that when giving a parking ticket, and when photos are taken, that the ticket giver is required to photograph the license plate? I received a parking ticket and was provided photos that are very blurry and barely able to see the car. It does not show any evidence or sign that states I can not park there. Can I contest this ticket and include that you cant even tell its my car or that its a no parking zone?

  31. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Photos are not required when issuing a parking ticket. Chicago uses them to further document the alleged parking violation.

    So, while it’s hard to dispute the photos, sometimes if you’re smart, you can use the photos against the city.

    In your case, when you contest this ticket, you should point out to the judge the photos don’t show your car and you think the ticket was issued to you improperly.

    You’ll have to have more evidence than just the above argument. But if you bring photos or an argument that proves your case, then you should win.

  32. Chuck Forester says:

    Funny…need to read the ordinance so you click on it and it say “unable to load error…contact the site administrator”

    Chicago…the city that does not work!

  33. Ryan says:


    I just got a ticket for rush hour parking. The zone just converted over to rush hour laws in the past week or so. The “Park Chicago” app accepted my payment from3:30 to 5:30 and I know there wasn’t a sign posted.

    There has to be a way to fight this. Can they accept payment then ticket you? I have no photo evidence that there was no sign, but it was given by CPD so they have no proof that there was.



  34. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    If there really wasn’t a sign, than go back there and take photos of the street demonstrating the lack of signage as evidence.

    If there is a sign, I would conveniently forget you saw a sign, explain you didn’t see a sign and use the meter receipt as proof it’s not a rush hour zone as the Park Chicago app allowed you to pay for parking there.

    My understanding is, Chicago Parking Meters is supposed to have the pay boxes and the Park Chicago app set up to prevent you from parking in rush hour zones during the hours of operation. Make that argument as well.

    Your chances are about 50/50 this defense will work as the signs normally take precedence over anything else.

    However, it’s certainly confusing to the driver if you don’t see the sign and then are allowed to pay for parking.

    You may get a sympathetic judge who sees things from that perspective and dismisses the ticket.

    I would STRONGLY advise you to argue this one in person.

  35. Jeff says:


    Sometimes – especially late in the evening where overnight parking is banned on some streets every day (like Grand in River North), this kkind of thing is an issue. Let’s say you are parking for 2 hours, but a parking restriction starts in one hour. The meter will issue you a receipt for that first hour of legal parking. That way, you could be led to believe that you are paying for legal parking for one hour, and that meter hours end after that.

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