Monthly Archives: October 2008

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek – 10/31/08

Hello Parking Geek,

I’d love to get your response to this new & improved excuse for a parking ticket!

Friday night, while parked in West Rogers Park (with a handicapped placard), I got
a $50 ticket for having a clear plastic cover on my license plate.

I confess that I’d heard that tinted covers were a no-no, but never heard that a
clear cover with a clear view of the license and registration sticker was illegal.

I did some research: Illinois General Assembly passed this new law against
tinted covers, and added “clear covers” on the last draft, and the law went into
effect on June 1, 2008 (date of ticket 6/6/08).

Anyway, on the ticket, the violation is listed as # 9-76-160d

I’ve gotten tickets before, appealed them and paid the ones that didn’t win on appeal, but I just thought this one wasn’t fair. I will be appealing it by mail.

Many thanks for your website!

Sincerely and with sympathy,

Ellen “Good Driver”

Dear Ellen-

First, let me explain that the state law you mentioned does not apply to your case. That’s because you were ticketed for a violation of the city code.

I looked at the municipal code on your violation.

9-76-160 (d) …No registration plate shall be covered by any tinted or colored screen.  It is illegal to park a vehicle on any roadway if the registration plate or other registration material fails to comply with this subsection…

The law says NOTHING about clear plastic. See, this happens more often than people think–many people writing tickets DO NOT know the law.

If they had written it up as a violation of state law, this may have been a correct violation.

But Chicago municipal law only prohibits tinted or colored coverings. The officer listed the city law NOT the state law. Ergo, your clear plastic cover is not in violation of the law.

Here’s what I would do.

1-Request a hearing.
2-Photograph your plate with the clear plastic covering. Take a few photos.
3-Perhaps you should even bring the actual clear plastic plate holder with
you to the hearing for further emphasis.
4-Print out a copy of the actual municipal law that was cited on the ticket.

Argue the ticket was issued improperly. Read, actually verbalize to a hearing officer at an in-person hearing or in a letter, quote the code verbatim in your written testimony so it makes it into the official record.

Show the hearing officer (or send with your letter) your photos and plate covering. Demonstrate it is not tinted nor colored.

If you have a hearing officer with a brain, you will win this easily. Slam dunk. However, let me warn you, some of these hearing officers are dolts and don’t know the code. I’m serious. It’s not surprising but still frustrating.

If somehow, you get a moron hearing officer that doesn’t rule in your favor and have done what I have said, you will have an excellent case on appeal. I have made appeals to the circuit court three times and have won all three because, me, a layperson (and not a very intelligent layperson)
with no legal background, knows the law better than the hearing officers who allegedly have law degrees.

Try that and you should win.

Please keep me posted to your situation.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek


I’m thinking of contesting a ticket I recently received for parking in an double
alleyway for a mere 5 mins.

The alleyway I parked in was in no way marked with any signs nor was it used for
garage access or housing access. I was all of about five minutes running to the
thrift store, dropping of donations, grabbed a tax form and returned to my car which had a huge ticket of $150. I in no way knew that what i was doing was illegal, as no sign etc were posted.

I have since taken photos of the area from all angles showing that in no way I was
blocking any way in or out. same for the parking signs that were non existent.

Should i contest this or will I simply be wasting my time with the parking courts.

P.S I have attached some pictures of the alley and where my car was.

Thanks and keep up the good work.



You have a good case here.

Here is the law.

9-64-130 Parking in alleys.

(a) It shall be unlawful to park any vehicle in any alley for a
period of time longer than is necessary for the expeditious loading,
unloading, pick-up or delivery of materials from such vehicle.

(b) It shall be unlawful to park a vehicle in an alley in such a
manner or under such conditions as to leave available less than ten
feet of the width of the roadway for the free movement of vehicular
traffic or to block the entrance to any abutting property.

First, the ticket does not list an A or B subsection.

Make the argument that the city doesn’t make a “prima facie” case because it doesn’t specify which part of this particular law that you violated as there are two subsections (A & B).

Secondly, you can make the argument that you were not in violation of either A or B.

In A, you were unloading materials to make a donation to a thrift store.

In B, you left enough room for other vehicles to get by.

In either situation, a hearing officer with a brain should dismiss the ticket.

Thanks, good luck and keep us posted on the results.

Very truly yours,


Hi Geek!

Sunday evening I parked at a meter on Belmont at 7:50pm. Grabbed my things,
and took off to my apartment.

Monday morning, ticket. at 7:53 pm. That meter was supposed to be fed until
8pm, so 7 minutes before, TICKET.

Any advice on how to approach the contest? it was my boyfriends car (its
registered in his name, in Naperville)… so is that the right way to go? Or
should I try a plea for some humanity and those 7 minutes… please help!



What a bummer. Believe me, I’ve taken chances like that and have been burnt myself. So I share your frustration.

Parking in the Wrigleyville/Lakeview area is a real bitch. That area in Tom Tunney’s 44th Ward is one of the few areas in the city where the meters need to be fed on Sunday. In the vast majority of the city, Sunday is the one day you don’t have to feed the parking meters. But in that Clark/Belmont and surround neighborhood, meters must be fed 7 days a week.

Using the defense that the car being registered in Naperville or throwing yourself on the mercy of the court looking for sympathy will fail miserably.

Other than telling an outright lie (payment didn’t register, meter broken, etc.) in your testimony (and of course I am not officially endorsing that strategy), I don’t have any advice for beating the ticket. I always advise contesting tickets, but I don’t think you will win this one.

My only advice I can give would be a tip from our friendly PEA, Ticketmaster says, “A quarter saves you $50 bucks!”.

Very truly yours,


Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

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

Warrenville Succumbs To Red Light Cameras

The Daily Herald is reporting west suburban Warrenville should soon be up and running with their red light program.

Sorry, I should have posted this earlier.

Smile! Red-light cameras coming to Warrenville

By Jack Komperda

Add Warrenville to the list of suburban communities who will be putting up cameras at high-volume intersections to catch motorists running red lights.

The Warrenville City Council passed an ordinance Monday to install the cameras along the eastbound and southbound lanes at two intersections: Butterfield Road at Route 59 and Butterfield Road and Winfield Road.

The city plans to contract with Lombard-based RedSpeed Illinois to install the cameras, which officials said they expect to have operational by Sept. 1.

Police Chief Raymond Turano and city officials have echoed the arguments of several neighboring communities that the camera systems aren’t being considered as a money-making venture.

Catching motorists using the cameras, though, can be profitable for towns considering them.

Naperville officials estimated in March that photo enforcement cameras at two intersections could add about $2.4 million to the city’s coffers. That’s based on predictions of issuing 1,000 tickets a month at each intersection.

Roughly 30 cameras in Chicago netted $20 million for the city in 2006.

And a single camera in Bellwood resulted in 500 tickets in one month, which resulted in $50,000 worth of ticket fines.

The Warrenville city council on Monday also passed a fine structure for the photo enforcement cameras. Traffic scofflaws caught running a red light on camera will face a $100 ticket.

And should Warrenville officials decide to install more cameras at other intersections, the city will split the cost of upgrading the traffic signals at the intersections with RedSpeed Illinois. The city’s portion of that cost would come from revenue generated through the camera enforcement program.

Aurora, Carol Stream, Lisle, Roselle and Wood Dale are among the other DuPage County communities with similar plans for red-light enforcement camera systems in the works.

I Count Eleven

From my count, I see 11 tickets (including remnants of tickets that have been removed). According to the photo notes, this was taken in West Town.

Photo taken by Dane Brian. Check it out on his Flickr page.

1,250 New Parking Meters Invade Near West Side

It just gets worse and worse.

According to UIC’s independent student newspaper, The Chicago Flame, 1250 new parking meters have been installed in and around Chicago’s Illinois Medical District on the near west side.

The story contends that these meters were initiated on the behest of 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti.  I think all constituents in the 2nd Ward should call and thank Ald. Fioretti for all these new meters in their ward.

To make this situation even worse is the meters must be fed 24 hours a day, seven days and week and a quarter only buys 15 minutes of time. This fee rate and hours of operation seem completely out of sync with a neighborhood in which the description of “desolate” would be a compliment. These current rates are on par with downtown and Gold Coast parking meter rates.

But, according to a spokesperson in Fioretti’s office, the alderman has an ordinance before the city council to alter the rates and hours of operation of these meters.

Oh, and don’t forget to read the comments from Fioretti’s spokesperson who claims all these new parking meters are a benefit for constituents. Yeah, right lady. Give us a break.

Parking meters installed near Ill. Medical District

By Matthew Bentel

The Near West Side received attention when the Department of Revenue installed 1,250 new parking meters last month.

The new meters end the days of free parking in the largely desolate area that is under the domain of the Illinois Medical Districts’ District Development Area. The meters span an area south of Roosevelt Road to 15th Place, and west of Ashland Avenue to Damen Avenue.The Illinois Medical District (IMD) is the nation’s largest urban medical district. It maintains the District Development Area, a tax incremental financing district, as an “opportunity for medically-related development and for [Chicago Technology Park] ‘graduate’ businesses to continue their growth,” according to the IMD website.

Department of Revenue spokesman Ed Walsh believes the meters were installed to offset the demand of parking placed on the area by local businesses and institutions, including Rush Hospital.

However, Kimberly Waterman, spokesperson for Rush Hospital, is weary of the Department of Revenue’s intention with installing the meters, claiming that most hospital employees use cheaper parking provided by the hospital.

The location, according to Waterman, also serves as an inconvenience. “That’s pretty far south of us. Roosevelt is a good four blocks south of us. I don’t think this has any impact on us,” Waterman said.

Most of the area on the Near West Side is part of the 2nd ward, represented by Ald. Robert Fioretti, whose office championed the meters to be used “in lieu of parking garages.”

According to the Department of Revenue, parking meter installation must first be initiated by the alderman via a request to the City Council. Ald. Fioretti’s Chief of Staff Chris Karabis said, “it was [the alderman's] call.”

Karabis explained how the parking meters would serve as a benefit.

“A lot of people are driving from the suburbs and it definitely needed some kind of regulation, some sort of revenue-generating system,” Karabis said.

The alderman’s office justified the installation further by citing the increase of government presence in the area, including more traffic enforcers and police.

“Without enforcement, what’s the point?” Karabis said. “While driving through there, we noticed people are parking in front of or around meters. You need enforcement. I think anything that brings police presence as a positive.”

The meters, which were installed by the Department of Revenue, currently operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A quarter buys users 15 minutes of time – $1 per hour – and consumers can purchase up to 10 hours of meter time.

Fioretti’s office said the installation of all the new meters has yet to be completed, adding that there are still problems and issues that need to be confronted.

“We introduced an ordinance to change the hours [of operation] and the fees, and we’re working with the [Department of Revenue] on doing so,” Karabis said. “[These changes] include eliminating some of the meters for loading zones and standing zones. And there is a church and daycare in the area that we want to keep free parking for.”

Handheld Ticketing Unit Missing In Action

It seems that many Chicago drivers who received parking tickets one morning last week (we have not confirmed an exact date), may have run into a bit of good luck.

It seems a city of Chicago Parking Enforcement Aide (PEA) has misplaced one of the city’s handheld computer ticketing units on Chicago’s north side.

Our friend and resident PEA, Ticketmaster is reporting that it was one of the city’s top ticket writers has inadvertently misplaced one of their handheld ticket writing computers. It seems the PEA put the AutoCITE down in the field, walked away, and forgot to pick it up.

The good news for a decent amount of drivers who received tickets on the north side one morning last week is, this lost hand held means the city does not have a record of your tickets. It also means the city is out perhaps thousands of dollars of violations that were stored on that handheld unit. Ticketmaster recommends you check in regularly with the city’s parking ticket search website if you suspect you were one of these lucky ticket recipients.

This handheld computer is the AutoCITE and is manufactured by Duncan Industries, which is also one of the top three parking meter manufacturers.

Ticketmaster believes these units cost from between $3200-$5000 bucks a pop. While I am not one to question Ticketmaster normally, but earlier in the year, the city put out a press release stating they spent $2 million for 140 of these new units with photographic capabilities.

Using my handy dandy desktop calculator, that comes out to roughly $14,000 per unit. However, it stands to reason that perhaps software, training and other services and support are part of that $2 million price tag. So, I will demur to Ticketmaster’s estimates.

Either way, that’s an expensive piece of equipment to lose.

The Dept. of Revenue has already instituted a policy change in regards to these units according to Ticketmaster saying “managment has instructed all staff to use a holster clip or strap to secure the autocite to our persons when we are not actively using it and to make sure we log out of the system as well.

As someone who misplaces their car keys and/or cell phone daily, I really have no room to make fun. But, the idea of a random citizen walking around issuing parking tickets as a prank is beyond hilarious to me.

Ticketmaster says this scenario is probably very unlikely.

The good news if any, is the battery can only hold a charge for a couple of days of use, and it is not like you can plug it into any outlet, so it will be useless relatively quickly, explains Ticketmaster. Assuming somebody got through the security locks on the AutoCITE, any tickets written on it will be voided out (so make sure you check the website everyday in case you have a ticket).

While I realize this is a long shot, if somehow “accidentally” this handheld ticketing unit has come into your possession, or you somehow stumbled upon it, and would like to return it, either call 312-744-PARK (7275) or drop us an e-mail here at:

EDITOR’S NOTE: While I would love to take credit for coming up with the idea for the milk carton graphic, to be perfectly honest, it was all Ticketmaster’s idea. Brilliant!

Crazy Anti-Daley Parking Policy Video

You Tube has the craziest stuff.

Below is a nutty video taking some pot shots at Mayor Daley and the city’s bad parking policies.

Most of the critiques I understand, some I have no clue, and there are spelling errors in at least 50% of the text. The spelling is so bad it’s distracting.

It seems to be a pro-taxi driver video commentary. At least from what I read in the video notes.

as we are almost 20,000 cabdrivers working in chicago.from 16 years Mr mayor machine make our life miserable.we can not defend by self. and he have 300 attorney. that he use against us .cause he don’t have to pay any pain from own the attorney can not get job other place .mayor use against cab drivers, ca by get ticket using phone for emergency and he get fine $ not one get this kind fine lot. we blive justice and FBI. all the united state of america knows about this mayor.

Ask The Geek: 10/27/08


Dear Mr Geek,

I am a Wisconsin resident with valid and up-to date plate stickers on my vehicle (for the state of WI), and will be staying in Chicago for about 10 days. My friends live in an area (Irving Park/ N Clarendon) where no residential parking passes are needed, but do I still need to purchase a city pass or guest passes for just the 10-days?

I’ve heard both yes and no. As long as I’m parked in a safe area where overnight parking is ok, no restrictions, I should be alright for those 10 days correct?  The main issue I have is, I am staying one night, then flying out of Ohare to LA for a week (while leaving my car in that neighborhood instead of paying Ohare parking fees), then coming back and staying in Chicago one more night before finally retreating back to Wisconsin. This brings the total of 10 days/nights of my car being in the city. I have successfully stayed in Chicago for four days straight with no parking ticket issues in the past, but am worried about the 10. Any response ASAP would be great!! Thanks for your help!!



Dude, you should be fine. No passes should be necessary if you are not parking in a residential parking zone.

The only thing you may want to check into is street cleaning schedules. Many a person on vacation for a week or so, has returned to taste the metallic bitterness of frustration upon seeing a bright orange ticket on their car’s windshield.

Have your buddies call the Alderman’s office to see when the next street cleaning is scheduled or check out the city’s online street cleaning schedules.

You may want to leave the keys for your pals to be able to move your car if need be if they see a street cleaning sign go up.

Have a safe and enjoyable time in L.A.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

P.S. What the hell happened to the Brewers?!?

Dear Parking Geek,

I received a Double Parking citation in front of my house while I was unloading a few items yesterday. I was parked next to my roommates vehicle and had my emergency lights on. I live on a quite residential street and cannot believe I got a ticket. Is there anyway to contest this?




From your note, it sounds like you were double-parked. So, the chances are, this ticket may be a hard one to beat. Unlike parking in bus stops or alleys or loading zones, where you can park temporarily if you are expeditiously loading or unloading passengers or boxes or objects, there is no such provision in regards to double-parking.

However…I believe you can make a solid legal argument to beat this ticket.

The Chicago municipal code defines the term “parking”,  under section 9-4-010 as:

“Parking (to park)” means the standing of an unoccupied vehicle otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading property or passengers.

You could make the argument, that because you were “engaged in the unloading of property,” you were technically not “parked” and therefore did not meet the definition of the violation under the law.

Therefore, this argument meets one of the city’s seven allowable defenses:

6-The illegal condition described in the compliance violation notice did not exist at the time the notice was issued;

From your story and my reading of the municipal code, you might have a shot at beating this.

It might not hurt to have your friend come with you to a hearing or write up a statement and have it notarized that supports your statement. And make sure you cite the municipal code I listed above to the hearing officer.

I wouldn’t get cocky or over confident with my assessment. It’s not a surefire winner, but definitely worth a shot.

What the hell? Go for it, fight the ticket and see what happens. The worst thing if you lose is that you get more time to pay your ticket.

Good luck and keep the Geek posted.

Very truly yours,


Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

Esoteric question, but what power do they ultimately have?

I was a Chicago resident for years, but now I live in Germany. I came back to Chicago this summer, got my car out of storage in Ohio, drove through Chicago with valid IL plates, and of course got hit for a city sticker ticket. I appealed. They denied. Now I’m going through through the anger stage (I’m a documented resident of Germany but my CAR is a resident of Chicago?). I no longer own the car, and I no longer have an IL drivers license.

Any idea of what happens if I let anger get the best of me and ignore it?


Herr Ray-

I say, embrace your anger and tell the city to “Shove it!”.

Don’t pay it! You live in Germany!

How do you say “Shove it” in German?

You don’t have a car to boot (plus it’s only 1 ticket) or an American address to send the collection letters.

If the city tickets a non-resident for not having a city sticker, and still, despite contesting this illegitimate ticket,  the city doesn’t dismiss the ticket, you have a moral duty to NOT pay that ticket.

In your particular case, I can’t see the downside to not paying.

Enjoy your time in Germany.

Auf Wiedersehen!

The Parking Ticket Geek

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

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

Philosophart Blogger Gets Ticketed AGAIN!

Cyrus, whom writes a local blog called Philosophart, was out of town and got hit with a street cleaning ticket.

You may recall Cyrus as the person who used the Chicken Soup Defense in his letter contesting his ticket. To my mind, it was one of the most creative defenses I’ve ever read. While I don’t recommend his letter writing strategy, just from a practical standpoint, I believe he should win just for sheer creativity. Whether the hearing officer who adjudicates his ticket is moved to dismiss it, is another story.

He is still waiting to hear back from the city. I very much hope he tells us how it comes out. I

Not Again.

Dear Hearing Officer,

It’s happened again, and I am really sorry.Ticket-02

This ticket was a street cleaning violation, and I know its fall and the leaves are falling and clogging up the sewer grates, which leads to huge puddles of standing water.  I appreciate what the city does to prevent this problem, and regret getting in the way on the day in question, this past Tuesday, October 21st.

I was out of town, writing poetry.  I could never have known that it was time for the streets to be cleaned, as the signs posted in our neighborhood appear only the day before.

And so it is with humility, slight embarrassment even, that I again appeal for your leniency.  Any reduction in the fine you can afford would be much appreciated.

Still broke,

Cyrus Dowlatshahi

ps. Still waiting to hear back from you regarding my last ticket.  What the fuck is taking you so long?

4000 Free Parking Spots To Go Bye-Bye

The city continues to grasp at straws to stop the budget bleeding.

According to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, The Chicago Park District announced Thursday it will begin charging for all 4000, previously free parking spots. OUCH!

However, instead of installing 4000 new parking meters, pay & display machines will be installed. The cost is estimated to be $1 per hour.

The Park District estimates it will raise an additional $700,000 in fees. However, they don’t explain that the enforcement on these 4000 parking spots will be a ticketing boon for the city.

These 4000 spots constitute an 11% increase in the number of metered or paid parking spots the city has.

Do the math.

Consider that currently, Chicago has around 36,000 metered or pay and display parking spaces. Add 4000 more spots and it’s an 11% increase. Yikes!

The REAL revenue windfall is going to come from enforcement of these 4000 parking spots. That’s where the real money will be. Think of all those expired meter tickets 4000 paid parking spots will generate at $50 a pop. Millions probably.

Chicago beach hours to be cut, new parking charges added

By Andrew Hermmann

Montgomery Ward fought to keep Chicago’s lakefront “open, clear and free” — but that was before the explosion of automobiles.

For motorists, the free part will be eliminated next year as the Chicago Park District plans to begin charging for all 4,000 parking spots along Lake Michigan.

Fees will be in the $1-an-hour range, Parks Supt. Timothy Mitchell said Thursday as he briefed reporters on the proposed 2009 Park District operating budget.

The parking plan will raise about $700,000 a year. Rather than coin meters, the district aims to use a “pay and display” approach in which motorists use a credit card to buy time from a machine and then display a receipt in their car’s front window.

The Geek’s Been Sick

Sorry for the low output of publishing and for taking so long to return all the e-mails.

The Geek and the entire family has been fighting some sort of extra-intense cold bug for the past week. I actually had to stay home from work for a day and a half which is unusual for someone who normally never takes a sick day.

I hope to catch up over the weekend. Please bear with me.

The Expired Meter is accepting any donations of Kleenex readers would like to send us.