Monthly Archives: July 2008

Daley Pushes For Two Ticket Boot Threshold, Chicagoans Get Ready To Be Screwed AGAIN!!!


The room seems to be spinning.

I think I’m going to vomit.

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting Mayor Daley proposed a plan Wednesday to change the number of tickets that trigger a boot from three tickets to only two.

Two tickets?!? Are you kidding me?!?

I need to lay down for a minute. Read the Sun-Times piece and perhaps I’ll have some thoughts afterward.

Daley’s plan makes more vehicles boot eligible

CITY HALL | Aldermen balk at Daley’s idea of locking up more scofflaws’ cars to raise cash to help fill $400 million budget hole

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

Motorists with just two delinquent parking or red-light tickets would face the dreaded Denver boot, under a revenue-generating plan introduced by Mayor Daley Wednesday that infuriated Chicago aldermen.

Under the mayor’s proposal, 208,273 vehicles would currently be eligible for the boot.

In 2002, City Hall raked in more than $8.2 million and wiped 242,000 old parking tickets off the books with a carrot-and-stick approach to scofflaws. A six-week parking ticket amnesty was followed by a three-ticket threshold for clamping on the boot. The previous trigger was five unpaid tickets.

Now that Daley is scrounging for every available dollar to plug a $400 million budget shortfall, he wants to lower the bar even further — to two tickets. The move would generate “tens of millions” of dollars in added revenue, officials said.

Aldermen from congested North Side and impoverished South and West Side wards reacted angrily to the mayor’s squeeze plan, quietly introduced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

“Two tickets is not somebody being a scofflaw. You can have two tickets easily — and need an extra month to pay them — just by overparking on one location on one day,” said Ald. Helen Shiller (46th).

“That’s a big mistake. It’s too low, and it’s too punitive. If you weigh the revenue against the impact on people, I don’t think it’s worth it. It creates a huge hardship. People need their cars. They’re already limiting [their driving] as it is because of gas prices.”

At a time when consumers are struggling mightily with layoffs, home foreclosures and skyrocketing food and fuel prices, the city has no business “adding to the hardship” with an unrealistically low boot threshold, said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th).

“There are many people who have to drive and, try as they might, they get tickets because of density of the neighborhoods they live in. They miss that meter by two or three minutes and that’s a ticket. It’s not like people are purposely trying to violate the parking laws,” Lyle said.

“For us to reduce the booting [threshold] from three to two will certainly provide the city with additional revenue because you’ll catch so many more of our constituents. But, that’s not the way we should try to balance the budget.”

Police Committee Chairman Isaac Carothers added, “People are struggling already trying to make ends meet. To go to two tickets may be going a little bit too far. Two tickets is an awfully [low number] to come out and boot somebody’s car. … It just seems like we’re doing so much to squeeze people when they’re already in bad shape.”

Revenue Director Bea Reyna-Hickey countered that Chicago can no longer afford to give a pass to drivers with two unpaid tickets.

“When we booted on five tickets, motorists hovered at four. Now that we boot on three tickets, motorists continue to not pay two tickets. This is significant revenue that, for the most part, is over one year old. We need to do all we can to collect it. We know it’s in the tens of millions of dollars,” Hickey said.

The lower booting threshold isn’t the only hammer that City Hall wants to bring down on scofflaws.

Daley is also proposing that collection costs — which range from seven percent on ambulance fees to 22 percent for parking tickets — be passed along to ticketed Chicagoans who refuse to pay up.

Collection costs would be added to the tab after a grace period that ends Dec. 6. Parking and red light ticket scofflaws who sign up for payments plans would be excused from collection fees.

Pressed on the fairness issue, Hickey said, “Is it fair to all the other people who are paying their parking tickets that we continue to expend city resources sending repeated notices and incurring collection costs because they won’t pay?”

Last year, Chicago booted 58,886 vehicles. The booting rate is up slightly this year — to 29,719 through June 30 — thanks to vans equipped with automated license plate readers.

OK, I feel slightly better now. In fact, now I’m pissed.

The Mayor can’t figure out how to balance the budget, so he has to transfer the financial burden again, to Chicago motorists. Parking tickets, red light cameras, street sweeper cameras, boots, when does it ever end?

The other bad piece of news is the mayor is pushing to pass on collection costs to scofflaws. Again, when will it end?

The good news is that it seems the alderman are angry too and don’t want to go along with Daley this time around.

This still means you need to call your alderman TODAY and voice your outrage at Daley’s plan. Don’t be a wimp, don’t procrastinate, this is not a drill–DO IT NOW!!!

Here is the list of Chicago alderman contact info.

Otherwise, if Daley’s plan to lower the number of tickets for boot eligible vehicles passes, prepare to take it in the ass Chicago.

Introducing Ticketmaster, A Preview And Great Heads Up

This website, for the short life of it’s existence, has been about informing drivers about parking news and parking issues, how to fight parking tickets, red light ticket issues and how best to avoid tickets altogether.

In an effort to be the best possible source of information and knowledge on these issues, The Expired Meter is very excited (I’m literally trying not to pee my pants) to announce a new contributor to the site.

His or her “name” is Ticketmaster. He or she began adding his/her thoughts and comments about two weeks ago, and I was impressed with his/her insight and knowledge of the system.

It turns out Ticketmaster is a PEA (Parking Enforcement Aide) for our very own city of Chicago Department of Revenue.

And that’s all I know, and all I care to know about Ticketmaster.

Because Ticketmaster has kindly agreed to contribute info and advice from the point of view of someone who actually writes the tickets that you and I love to receive. So it’s important that Ticketmaster remain anonymous and unidentified to his employers within the city.

My hope is that Ticketmaster’s input will dispel myths and misconceptions of parking ticket issues, provide insight that only someone who actually has this job can provide to the rest of us schmoes, and ultimately be an indispensible resource to this site’s readers.

Ticketmaster has already set me straight on a few facts and issues and I’m glad. Because ultimately, this website, in order to be an effective resource for it’s readers, needs to be as accurate as possible with it’s information.

So, like I was saying earlier, I originally was going to debut Ticketmaster this coming Monday. But Ticketmaster e-mailed me a time sensitive tip, a “heads up,” that I felt obligated to pass on to our readers.

So consider this post a preview of what’s to come. More background and info on Monday.

FRIDAY IS AUGUST 1st. If your plate sticker has the Expiration of 07-08, it can and will be photographed and ticketed.

The city does not offer any extension on license plates stickers.

If you read the letter the Secratary of State sends out. It clearly states that your plates will expire on July 31st. The 30 day grace period the state gives you is only so you will not be charged a late fee. You can still be ticketed.

The current fine for that ticket is $50.00

Tip of advice: Please do not try to play games and alter your plate sticker. We have been briefed on the latest security features in regards to the stickers and will be able spot them. Also, should you just completely remove the stickers so there are no stickers at all, you can be ticketed. (please don’t ask, this is what we are being told by management)

Kind Regards


See, this is what I’m talking about! This is GREAT info. In fact, my wife has been putting off getting her sticker renewed and today is the God damn 31st!!! So guess who gets to go out and deal with this today? I’ll give you one guess and it’s NOT my wife!!!

Thanks for the reminder and tip Ticketmaster.

Check in Monday for Tickemaster’s official debut.

The Parking Ticket Geek Shares A Few Random Thoughts, Info, Background, Blather


I’ve been trying to finish up an article on special license plate covers for avoiding red light camera tickets in this site’s ongoing series on the subject.

But I’ve been sidetracked by some ticket hearing preparation I have to do for a series of 11 tickets I am having re-heard.

I will try to keep this brief, but the background is this:

*My wife’s car was registered out of state until recently.

*While I was driving it, the car became a magnet for parking tickets (duh, I was driving!).

*For nearly three years, the city mailed us no violation notices to our out of state “residence.” None! Not a peep.

*A few months ago, the first Notice of Violation shows up with nearly 60 tickets. OUCH!!!

*I seriously got dizzy and the blood drained from my face when I saw this notice for the first time. I actually thought (and this will give you insight into what a dunce and dumbass I am) that the tickets would never show up. That’s because I had been diligently checking the city’s website and nothing popped up–every month for three years. And also, once we got pulled over by a cop who ran our plates and said this plate did not exist in the national police database even though we had all the proper registration and insurance info. A parking ticket black hole, right?


*I get to work, fighting 60 tickets in a very compressed time frame (this is a story for another time).

*I ask the first hearing officer I am in front of to grant me a reasonable continuance to do my due diligence to prepare to fight a bunch of these tickets. My argument is that most of these tickets are nearly THREE YEARS OLD and how does the city expect me or my wife remember the circumstances surrounding these tickets from three years ago, let alone find any photographic evidence or other evidence that may have existed from that time period, when they take three fucking years to send us a first notice?!?

*The hearing officer denies my continuance and rules against us on all 11 tickets. Moron.

*So I appeal to the Circuit Court.

*In Circuit Court, a few weeks ago, the city attorneys agree with my argument that the hearing officer was stupid and screwed up by not allowing my request for continuance. So the city attorneys grant us the chance (it’s called a remand and re-hearing) to have the tickets heard again, and assign a time and date.


So that new re-hearing date is coming up next week and I have been staying up late at night, and losing sleep, spending time getting prepared for contesting 11 tickets all at once.

Do you see the sacrifices I make for the good of this website dear readers? I have to go through all this hell, so you can learn from my many, many, many, many mistakes and won’t have to suffer as I have.

Stay tuned. This should be good.

Chicago Observer Columnist Dennis Byrne Takes Red Light Camera Critics To Task

The Chicago Observer’s Dennis Byrne has written a scathing column about people whining about how unfair red light cameras are.

Byrne also writes for The Chicago Tribune.

Here’s his well written, but wrong-headed rant. Geek’s comments to follow.

Justice for red-light runners

By Dennis Byrne

If Chicago can raise $50 million a year using 100 cameras to catch red-light runners, I’m for the city putting in another 100. Or more. Same for the suburbs that are thinking about putting in the cameras.

Yes, we’re supposed to feel sympathy for motorists who race through red rights, as if they’re a picked-on species that is being victimized by the money-hungry Daley administration.

It’s not fair; it’s not constitutional, the ticketed public whimpers. Some lawyer, of course, has filed a class action suit, protesting—what?—a motorist’s right to speed through a red light undetected.

We’re supposed to believe that Chicago is behaving like those Georgia hick towns that ensnared passing Yankees (in Chicago’s case, suburbanites) in those legendary speed traps to feed the towns’ coffers. Or, we’re supposed to believe that cities are intentionally making the yellow caution light shorter to nab more riders.

We’re also supposed to believe studies showing that the camera worsens, not improves, traffic safety. I guess that’s based on the theory that the cameras are making motorists excessively cautious, slamming on their brakes and causing more rear-end collisions. So, I guess again, that we’re supposed to be against the cameras because tailgaters can’t cope with sudden stops. (Other studies, however, show a decline in the number of accidents; Chicago says accidents are down 30 percent and red-light running is down 60 percent at intersections covered by cameras.)

It’s all a plot to raise more money, camera critics say, pointing to the fact that Chicago’s revenues from fines at the present rate will top $50 million, which is more than a 40-percent increase over all the money collected in all of the past four years. Even more millions will be rung up from the 25 more cameras expected to be installed this year. Good; law-abiding taxpayers should be pleased that the tax burden is eased by lawbreakers.

Wait, there’s more whining: The city, some claim, is placing a disproportionate share of cameras in minority and poor neighborhoods, even though the argument can be easily refuted by glancing at a map of the cameras’ locations.

The cameras have some people so upset that they’re willing to invest $200 in global positioning system (GPS) devices that will alert them when they are approaching intersections known to be equipped with cameras. In other words, these fools are spending $200 to avoid a $100 fine, the maximum permitted by state law for being caught with a camera while running a red light. If that’s what it takes to get these dolts to slow down when they suspect the presence of a camera, so be it. Of course, they’ll still speed up when they think no camera is present—which is further evidence that more cameras are needed.

(Some devices come with the extra capability of warning drivers of approaching known speed traps. Others come with an additional feature of detecting the presence of police radar used to catch speeders. There used to be a device that motorists, fed up with speeders, could use to falsely set off these radar detectors, but the federal government said they were illegal and had to be taken off the market. Thus the irony: devices used to stymie other devices designed to break the law are illegal. But the devices designed to break the law are not. But that’s another story.)

All the carping about the camera’s unfairness and unconstitutionality is nothing more, when it comes right down to it, than an excuse to break traffic laws without getting caught. No one is stupid enough to admit it, but the truth of it is self-evident. I just wish these law-breakers would do us all a favor and stop whining about entrapment, violations of privacy rights and all the other red herrings.

Driving is a licensed activity in a public place. Because it is a public place, any expectations of privacy are ill founded. Because the government regulates driving, expectations that the government shouldn’t use a camera to enforce its laws in a public place are ridiculous.

The red-light camera is raising the same kind of objections we once heard when cities first started to use the Denver Boot to immobilize the cars of drivers who habitually flouted parking regulations and refused to pay their fines. All that their complaining accomplished was to make them justifiable objects of scorn and ridicule. Just like the red-light runners look today.

Mr. Byrne-

Here are a few facts and information to consider.

The city of Chicago claims that red light cameras are primarily for improving safety, with the revenue generated being a pleasant after thought.

Federal guidelines for yellow light intervals have a range of time. Chicago’s intersections are on the short end of that interval at 3 seconds, while the vast majority of traffic engineers at all levels of government recommend, that yellow light intervals should be 4 seconds. This extra second, according to the predominance of studies, result in a steep decline in red light running and hence accidents. One wonders why a city so obsessed with safety won’t make this nearly costless adjustment to every intersection in the city?

Except for the red light cameras, the city has not, to my knowledge, invested dollar one of the nearly $100 million dollars they’ve reaped in fines from red light cameras in improving the safety of intersections through engineering and signage. Another way to diminish red light running and improve safety.

If, this city that is so concerned with safety, only cares about solutions that produce revenue, one can see that it is truly not concerned about safety, but about revenue under the guise of safety.

In other words, if it looks like hypocrisy, smells like hypocrisy, feels like hypocrisy–it’s hypocrisy!

It’s no wonder that citizens, seeing this blatant hypocrisy, would be pissed and seek ways to gain the upper hand on red light cameras via other technologies or strategies.

I have never received a red light camera ticket and don’t plan on blowing through ANY red lights. I strongly discourage motorists from running red lights as well.

However, I reserve the right to be strongly resentful of them all the same and understand why others feel the same way.

Red light cameras are about revenue first and safety a distant second.



Denver Boot Patented 50 Years Ago Today


Frank Marugg was a musician. A violinist with the Denver Symphony Orchestra.

He must have been a renaissance man of sorts. Because not only was he was an accomplished professional musician, but also a pattern maker.

But perhaps Marugg’s greatest contribution to society (if one could call it that), the thing he will be remembered for, cursed for, and the bane of parking ticket scofflaws everywhere, is the Denver Boot.

Today, July 28, 2008, is the 50th Anniversary issue date of the patent for Marugg’s patent evil contraption.

Patent #2844354 for the Wheel Clamp was issued today, July 28, 1958.

It seems that Marugg had some friends in the Denver Sheriff’s Department, who were aware of his skills as an inventor. The department approached Marugg with their problem of scofflaws who had become inattentive to the city’s pleas to pay up on their tickets. So Marugg and the Sheriff at the time, came up with the idea for a device to immobilize vehicles, and open up the wallets of the vehicle owners.


Although history shows Marugg invented the boot in 1953, he didn’t apply for a patent for his vehicle immobilizing device until May 7, 1955, taking over three years to see it actually patented.

What has always puzzled me is that Marugg was supposed to be a well-liked, really nice guy. How he successfully hid the horns on his head and the 666 burned into his scalp his entire lifetime is shocking. Of course, I jest.

Marugg ran his company selling Denver Boots until he passed away, and his daughter eventually sold the company to Clancy Systems.

Now there are many companies manufacturing these accursed vehicle immobilizing boots. All owe their existence to Marugg’s original Wheel Clamp, Patent #2844354.

Ticket News: Week In Review


This past week had a few minor announcements from city hall that pertain to my odd obsession with parking tickets.

The first is that the plan to put cameras on street sweepers made it out of City Council committee. According to a report by the Sun-Times, some of the alderman on the committee were uneasy about this law because of the lack of consistent signage on street cleaning days.

Streets and Sanitation claim they are going to be much more prolific with signs, trying to put at least five to six on each block.

My thinking would be, why not install permanent signs, like they have in some areas (Wicker Park, Bucktown, Lakeview, Lincoln Park) on every block? That way drivers know well in advance the day of street cleaning. Sure it will be expensive, but with all the revenue these street sweeper cams will provide, the city can well afford it.

Actually, it would be best if the city did both. Permanent signs, supplemented by paper signs a day or two before just as a reminder.

And don’t worry, despite the pretense that there is a truly democratic system in place in this city, there will be no real debate on this issue. This law will pass. Herr Daley’s will cannot be ignored. This thing is a done deal.

Street-sweeper cameras OKd

Mayor Daley’s plan to use video surveillance to ticket motorists who block street sweepers swept through a City Council committee Wednesday, but only after queasy aldermen got assurances about adequate signs.

Aldermen have reacted coolly to the city’s latest plunge into the use of surveillance cameras. They have argued that it’s unfair to hammer motorists with $50 tickets when the signs that warn them to move their cars on sweeping days are predominantly made of paper.

Deputy Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Wren said blocks under video surveillance would get plenty of signs.

“In the past, they’ve put maybe three on a block. We’re instructing them to put five to six signs on a block,” Wren said.

The Daley-sponsored ordinance advanced by the Traffic Committee would kick off the sweeper experiment slowly to work out the kinks. Cameras would be installed on six of the city’s 60 sweepers.

The other minor news story was a report from OEMC on red light cameras.

Here’s the short version.

*104 red light cameras are now live

*25 more will go up before the end of the year.

*City claims accidents at these intersections are reduced by an average of 30%.

*Red light running is down 59% on average at these intersections.

*The city will bring in $50 million in revenue from red light camera tickets compared to $35 million for the last four years TOGETHER!!!

*Chicago drivers everywhere wail and grind their teeth

City now has 104 red-light cameras, expects to collect $50M. in fines

Accidents, violations drop at covered intersections

This month the number of Chicago intersections monitored by red-light cameras topped 100 for the first time, with 104 cameras in action and 25 more planned for this year.

Meanwhile, the city is on track to collect more than $50 million in fines this year from camera-generated violations, up from a $35 million total for all of the four previous years.

A red light traffic camera is seen near the intersection of 111th Street and Harlem Avenue in Worth, Ill. The city expects cameras like these to yield $50 million in fines.

But while the $100 tickets and accompanying snapshots sent by mail may have lead-footed drivers seeing red, there are a couple of silver linings. First, the tickets don’t show up on motorists’ driving records, so insurance companies won’t have an excuse to raise rates for violators. “It’s like a parking ticket, it’s not a moving violation,” said Jennifer Martinez, of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Second, accidents are down 30 percent in the camera-covered intersections, and red-light running is down 60 percent, according to numbers provided by the city. And since the cameras also stand watch against illegal right turns on red, pedestrian injuries from such turns have also declined, according to Martinez.



My favorite type of parking meter.

I had nothing to do with this.

I swear.

Maywood To Move Ahead With Red Light Cameras


The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Maywood is moving ahead to install red light cameras at problem (in other words, high traffic/high revenue) intersections. No intersections have been choosen yet, the approved vendor, American Traffic Solutions, will analyze the problematic intersections and give the Maywood city council recommendations on which ones to wire up.

Get ready Maywood!

MAYWOOD: Red-light cameras get officials’ support

Maywood village officials have approved a contract to install red-light cameras at some problem intersections in the suburb.

Trustees, along with the mayor, voted 6-1 at Tuesday’s board meeting to authorize American Traffic Solutions Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., to study traffic habits at village intersections and to eventually place cameras at those sites. Trustee Gary Woll, noting that some violators might be Maywood residents, voted against the contract.

After a red light is run, an automatic system photographs the violator’s license plate and mails a ticket.

Maywood Village Manager Jason Ervin said the cameras will make intersections safer throughout the village. One problem intersection the village has identified is 1st Avenue and Roosevelt Road.

“Generally, when cameras are present, people don’t run red lights,” Ervin said.

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek – 7/25/08


Parking Geek,

I came to Chicago in May to work just for the summer. I will be leaving in about a week. So far I have accumulated about $250 in parking tickets (3 zone violations and 1 street cleaning one). My car is registered in another state and under another name (my fathers). I paid the first one and contested the second and third by mail. I am planning on contesting the 4th (the street cleaning one) because the sign was put up AFTER I left for work that day. My main question is, if I don’t end up winning these cases, what would happen if I just don’t pay them. Like I said, I leave in a week and do not plan on coming back to Chicago.


N. G.

Dear N.G.

Don’t you love how this city makes you feel so welcome?

I have two answers for you if you lose.

Your first option is to open up your wallet and just pay your tickets. It’s expensive, but has less potential long term issues. This is what normal people call “being responsible,” (I say this with a sarcastic sneer and use two fingers from both hands to indicate air quotes).

Your second option is to flip Chicago the bird, jump into your car, drive like hell and never look back without paying.

There’s not a ton the city can do to enforce your payment of these tickets if you live far from the city. Your car can’t get booted if you accumulate three or more unpaid tickets living out of state.

Now there is a chance one of the collection agencies the city contracts with will send nasty collection letters to your dad. They may threaten to report your dad to credit agencies. But it’s only a possible maximum of four tickets and from what I have found out so far, credit agencies (at least one) don’t put a lot of weight on unpaid parking tickets as a strike against your credit rating.

But to be honest, I am still researching the credit score part of this question for a longer piece on parking tickets and credit.

The more important question may be what your dad thinks about the tickets. Some fathers have little patience for their kids getting tickets in their name. Others may be more lax. You’ll need to consult with him and see what he thinks. Perhaps he thinks you should tell Chicago to stick it too.

A piece of non-parking ticket wisdom. Don’t piss off your dad.

Hope that helps. I hope the rest of your time and experiences in our beautiful city were better than this.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

Man, I am so angry,

I just got 2 tickets for not having a city sticker, one yesterday and one today. I am moving out of Chicago at the end of this month and thought I would get away without getting a new city sticker for a full year. I emailed the city clerks office to ask if I could buy a short term, one month sticker but they never replied.

Now it appears that I am going to have to
1. Buy a new sticker ($75 + $40 late fee) even though I am leaving in 2 weeks
2. Pay $240 in fines

Is there any way out of this?

Perhaps the most annoying thing is that I only bought the car in Oct 07 and had to pay full price for a city sticker for the year July 07 to Jun 08 even though I only had the car from Oct. Now I need to buy a sticker for the year July 08 to July 09 even though I’ll only be here for one month of that. So for having a car in the city for 10 months I have to buy 2 years worth of city stickers. Can you see why I am angry?

Is there any chance of getting one of the tickets canceled due to the fact that I got them within 24 hours of each other, albeit on different days?

As I said I am leaving Chicago soon so my only option is to contest these by mail. Is it better to contest by mail or in person.



Dear R.

Dude, I feel your pain.

This is a tough situation to be in, because you are pretty much screwed. There’s no way out of the tickets. The law is pretty cut and dry. You tell me your vehicle is registered in the city and you don’t have a city sticker. All vehicles registered in Chicago, that drive on Chicago streets, must have a city sticker OR face possible fines.

As far as getting two tickets for the same offense within 24 hours, there’s probably little you can do with this as well. You’re not supposed to be able to be ticketed for failure to display your city sticker more than once per day. But that’s alleged to mean calendar day. So, you can conceivably receive a ticket every day of the week while in violation of this law–if they catch you.

I would think it would be at least worth a try to make your “two tickets in 24 hours” argument and see what happens. If you try this, send a contest letter for both in the same envelope and make that argument on both letters. Refer to both ticket numbers on both letters so the hearing officer can look up both tickets at the same time.

I’ve never tried this or heard this tried. I think it’s a long shot, but if you argue it right, it may work to have one of the tickets dismissed.

As far as buying the city sticker with just two weeks left, I don’t know. Can you park your car in a garage or on private property or hide it out somewhere until you leave town? If it was me (and understand I am a bit combative with situations like this and not very bright) I would not buy the sticker, hide my car as best I could and tell the city to “shove those tickets up your ass, I’m leaving town and not coming back!” But again, that’s just me.

Unfortunately, Chicago does not pro-rate city stickers. It’s a flat fee. $75 for 365 days or a single day. It sucks, but Chicago is the city that works (to clean out your wallet).

If you’re considering skipping town and not paying your tickets, you get to consider everything I wrote above to N.G. Look up, see above.

As far as in-person hearing vs. contesting by mail, the historical statistics show better chances of winning in-person, but 2007 figures show the reverse. I prefer in-person. But your chances seem to be about even these days.

Good luck in your move out of town. Sorry about the taste of fecal matter the city left in your mouth.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

FYI, within the city of Chicago, it’s illegal to knowingly park at a broken meter. I found this out originally because I called in to report a broken meter. The man said, “You’re not parked there, are you?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “You are parked illegally and may receive a ticket.” I called back several times to verify the illegality and sure enough it is. Just thought you may want to advise people against parking at broken meters.

Candypants Capone

Dearest Candypants,

Whomever you spoke to is a moron.

I checked through the Chicago municipal code and cannot locate a prohibition from parking at a broken parking meter. I spoke to a few employees of the Dept. of Revenue and they say it’s OK to park at a broken meter.

Since there is no violation in the municipal code prohibiting parking at an inoperable meter, it is legal to park at these meters.

My contacts at Revenue encourage you to call 311 or 312-744-PARK to report the broken meter, but again you are not legally compelled to do that either.

If it were true and one could not park at a broken meter, think about how many parking spaces would be off limits?!? Sometimes it takes months for meters to be repaired.

Call whomever you spoke to and tell them to talk to me. I’ll straighten them out.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek at:

If we publish your question, you get an Expired Meter T-shirt–FREE!

The Geek’s Take On RedEye Cover Story


On Monday, I received a few notes asking what I thought about the RedEye’s cover story on fighting parking tickets. So, being the opinionated jerk that I am, I thought I would pass on my thoughts.

After many years of being completely underwhelmed by decent information and news coverage on fighting parking tickets in Chicago’s media, my expectations for RedEye’s cover story on the subject were not high.

So, it was with some trepidation that I picked up Monday’s RedEye getting off a plane that evening, after spending the weekend out of town on business.

Actually…it was pretty damn good!

Basically, it’s a suite of four stories all related to, duh, fighting Chicago parking tickets. For the RedEye, a publication that redefined brevity in news coverage, to devote two full pages of coverage to this issue is, to say the least, impressive.

The cover story, Orange Alert (Damn! A Parking Ticket-How To Beat Them) is a fair and decent, general overview of the parking ticket situation in Chicago.

In fact, writer Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz comes up with some interesting stats on fighting tickets that are contrary to recent historical averages.

Of the 117,746 parking tickets contested by mail last year, 72,584 tickets—62 percent—were tossed out, according to Scott Bruner, director of the city’s Department of Administrative Hearings. Of the 142,594 parking tickets contested at in-person hearings, 80,008 tickets—56 percent—were dismissed, Bruner said.

Previously, the stats were somewhat reversed as nearly 70% of all in-person hearings were dismissed and just about 50% of all tickets contested by mail were dismissed.

Based on the pre-2007 stats, it was easier to rationalize opting for the in-person hearing versus sending in a letter as there was about a 20% better chance of winning.

I still feel your chances are better in an in-person hearing as I believe that human to human interaction with the hearing officers allows for more information to be communicated.

But, obviously, some people are more comfortable organizing their thoughts in the written word. Perhaps, the art of the letter has not been lost in the age of txt mssging, and maybe people are just writing some damn convincing contest letters.

These stats in total also reveal some interesting info. Just under 10% of all tickets issued are contested, with just over 5% of all tickets being dismissed.

That’s a 5% failure rate. In other words, at least 1 out of 20 tickets issued by the city was written improperly.

Now think for a minute. How many people who receive improperly written tickets say “screw it!” and just pay the fine because they don’t have the time or knowledge to fight it? It’s probably at least equal or more than the number of tickets that are actually contested.

A documented 5% failure rate is pretty poor performance. If you and I failed that often, we may not be employed for very long.

Elejalde-Ruiz next story, It’s Unfair, is the best article of the bunch. This is the type of practical info someone fighting a ticket should know.

While some of the explanations are technically accurate, but not necessarily practical, the only major issue is with this part of the article is this:

Defense: “I don’t have a city sticker because I have out-of-state license plates!”
All Chicago residents who have been living in the city for at least 30 days must obtain and properly display a city sticker, regardless of where their vehicle is registered. So cars with out-of-state license plates still can be ticketed for no city sticker.

Cars can be ticketed, but it’s a bullshit ticket. Tickets for city sticker violations on vehicles with out of state plates is relatively rare and easily beatable. The reason is that the law speaks to residency.

For example, if you are going to college in Chicago but really live somewhere else, are you truly a resident of Chicago? Why can’t someone have multiple residences? Why does having a residence in Chicago trump a residence in another city, state or suburb?

If you are registered outside the city, through the ticketing process, it will be very difficult for the city to disprove your outside Chicago residency. The cops and parking enforcement officers know this and rarely ticket out of state vehicles.

If you are ticketed, it’s a pretty easy win. Just show them your out of state or out of city registration, perhaps a few pieces of mail to yourself at that address and never say you actually reside in the city.

So, if you want to keep your car registered in Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin or wherever–do it!

But for your protection, keep things consistent and make sure your drivers license has the same out of Chicago address as your vehicle registration.

And if you are registered in Illinois, especially the suburbs, get a vehicle sticker from your local village or municipality where you car is registered just to keep the heat off.

The third story, Chicago Tickets By The Numbers, is a short sidebar of data highlighted by the 2.9 million tickets written annually, which translates in $164 million in revenue, written primarily by just 92 parking enforcement aides. That’s a lot of tickets and a lot of revenue generated on the backs of vehicle owners.

The final sidebar is called Chicago Blog Helps You Beat The Orange, which spotlights advice from some idiot called The Parking Ticket Geek at a website called The Expired Meter. In my humble opinion, he’s a totally mentally unstable, dumbass.

Overall, it gets a Geek Grade of B+, for perhaps, being one of, if not the most comprehensive mainstream media coverage of fighting Chicago parking tickets in a very long time.