Ask The Parking Ticket Geek – 1/19/09


Hello Dear PT-Geek,

Thank you for all the time you put into your website; as a new resident to the City
of Chicago your “Welcome Guide” saved my wallet! I wish they’d buy a license from
you and print a booklet for new residents.

I have a question about your recent post on the “abandoned vehicle” rule, which
states that any vehicle parked in one spot for more than 7 days can be ticketed.

My car has been parked in the same spot for about two days now. I recently went out to check up on my car, as you’re supposed to do in the winter, to make sure it’s still
functioning. I wasn’t planning on driving anywhere, just checking on it.

I’m glad I didn’t need to go anywhere, because the snow plow packed a huge snow bank next to and under the car. That in and of itself is not such a big problem; I’ve had to dig the car out multiple times. The real problem I was facing was that the snow under the car had frozen to ice and actually glued my car to the road.

Would the abandonment rule still apply to cars that have been “frozen stuck” to the road? And if it does, would the City of Chicago actually tow my car? Because if they did, they’d probably leave half of the chassis behind in the process.

Obviously I have some time before my car’s been in the same spot for a week, so I’m
hoping temperatures will rise enough to thaw it out. But I’m still curious if there’s a special provision for “temporarily immobilized” vehicles.

Thanks so much!

Mark & Frosty the Snowed-in-Car


Thank you for the kind note.

From my review of the municipal code, I see no provision for “temporarily immobilized” vehicles.

Although, one could make a case that your car in it’s presently popsicle-like state, could be considered a “disabled” vehicle. But that’s kind of a stretch because you’re not obstructing traffic. Even so, it sounds from your description, a tow truck might have a problem liberating your car from the glacier in which it is entombed.

The good news is that the weather is warming up and your car should have thawed out by now.

If not, I’m told taking a leak on compacted ice does wonders to melt it quickly. While of course disgusting, the hot liquid with a high salt content works fast. A case of beer shared among a few friends, in short time,  Presto!, melted ice.

The other good news is that while the law technically dictates that cars must be moved every seven days or can be considered abandoned, in practice, this law is not enforced very rigorously.

As an example, there’s a car in front of my house that has been in the same spot for at least a month. Cops and PEAs normally don’t look for this type of violation unless a vehicle is in obvious disrepair or is missing license plates or tires, broken windows, bums sleeping inside, etc.

Otherwise, most abandoned vehicle tickets are issued because someone complained to the alderman about an abandoned vehicle.

So, if you keep the snow off your car while your car is frozen to the street, you should be OK until the weather warms.

Thanks for the question and good luck with your car Mr. Shackelton.

Very truly,

The PT-Geek

Hello Parking Geek.

Quick question, (with the new parking meter lease deal) can I still park for free at a parking meter with my handicapped placard ?

I can’t find an answer.



Not to worry John.

While this parking meter lease deal is a little overwhelming and confusing, this change in control of the meters has not meant a change in the ordinance allowing handicapped parking at parking meters. Here’s the law:

9-64-010  Applicability – Exemptions.

(c)     Notwithstanding any other provision of the traffic code, any motor vehicle bearing handicapped or disabled veterans state registration plates or a handicapped parking decal or device issued pursuant to Section 3-616 or 11-1301.2 of the Illinois Vehicle Code and any motor vehicle registered in another jurisdiction, state, district, territory or foreign country upon which is displayed a registration, special decal or device issued by such other jurisdiction designating the vehicle is operated by or for a handicapped person is hereby exempt from the payment of parking meter fees and exempt from any ordinance or regulation which imposes a time limitation for parking….

I think if Mayor Daley and the Chicago City Council tried to slip a change to the municipal code that took this privilege away from the handicapped, there would have been political hell to pay. Those guys aren’t that stupid.

So don’t worry, John. Your handicapped placard still gets you that free rock star parking at any parking meter in Chicago.

Yours truly,

The Parking Ticket Geek

Mssr. Geek,

I just bought a Smart Car which is perfect for the city.

In Europe, you see them parked perpendicular to the street in very tight spots. Is this legal in Chicago? I’m afraid of doing it an finding an expensive ticket on my car.




I did a bit of checking, and it seems that many Smart Car owners, despite the namesake car they own, are not very smart and try to park perpendicular to the curb surprisingly often. I think it’s a lame attempt to pick up girls, by showing off  how small a space they can shoe horn their politically correct cars into.

I must be getting old, because it used to be, dudes with penis size issues, would buy a muscle car or a Hummer. Now, it seems, one proves the size of their penis by having the smallest car or the car with the highest MPG. But I digress.

I have also read a lot about people trying to fit their Smart Car along with another vehicle, into a single metered space–which is a topic for another discussion.

In Chicago, the law is that ALL vehicles, except for scooters and motorcycles, must be parked parallel to the curb.

Here’s the municipal code.

9-64-020  Parallel parking – Obstruction of traffic.

(a)     It shall be unlawful to stand or park any vehicle, except for a motorcycle or motor scooter, in a roadway other than parallel with the edge of the roadway headed in the direction of lawful traffic movement and with the curbside wheels of the vehicle within 12 inches of the curb or edge of the roadway; provided, however, this prohibition shall not apply to the parking of any vehicle in a designated diagonal parking zone or space.

I understand and appreciate your creative thinking, but we live in the United States of America, NOT Europe. Don’t those goofs across the Atlantic drive on the wrong side of the road too? Idiots!

Parallel park in Chicago and you won’t get a ticket.

Very truly yours,

The 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 with your query at:

10 Responses to Ask The Parking Ticket Geek – 1/19/09

  1. hiarious_joe says:

    Dear Mr. Geek,

    This is a relatively minor point about your second answer regarding the free meters for handicapped placards and plate bearing vehicles. The free meter rule does indeed apply to all parking meters in the city of chicago, WITH the SOLE exception of so-called red-top meters (called red-top due to the red topped frame of the top of the meter. These meters are meters that limit parking to 30 minutes or less and, while few and far between, do exist and are mainly located in lakeview and lincoln park (examples are in front of Starbucks on the north side of Diversey just west of Sheffield, and also on the east side of Wells street just north of North avenue. The remainder of the omitted code does specifiy that meters and time limits of 30 minutes or less and applicable even to handicapped cars. This provision is also stated in the state statute and pamphlets. So If the time limit is more than 30 minutes (like a one hour limit such as on Wabash in the loop, then handicapped are fine, but if its a 30 minute meter and/or time limit, than handicapped must feed the meter and/or obey the time limit. This is a little known fact, but the cops and pea’s definitly are aware of this loophole. And remember also that aside from public handicapped parking places, time limits (greater than 30 minutes) and meter fees, the handicapped still must obey all other parking rules and limitations. And please remind suburban drivers with handicapped placards to differentiate between the three types of handicapped signs downtown, gold coast and elsewhere. There are handicapped parking spots (green signs) which are good for as long as one wants as long as there are no other parking rules in effect at certain times (rush hour etc). Then there are handicapped loading zones, which are only good for up to 30 mins and only with flashing lights activated and a handicapped credential. And finally there are private handicapped permit parking spots, which are usually blue and have a specific permit number listed and are only good for that person at all times. Thank you and keep up the great work, you are golden!

  2. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Mr. Hilarious Joe-

    Man, that’s some good stuff in your comments.

    Thank you for the clarification and the info. I’ve NEVER seen this in the
    muni code.

    I LOVE learning something new, and we are always striving to be as
    accurate and informative as possible. So I really appreciate the info.

    But let me ask you this.

    1-Why are you so well versed in this law?

    2-Do you do something for the city, or in the law, that makes you so
    knowledgeable about this topic?

    3-Why aren’t you contributing more of your knowledge and expertise to our
    goofy website? We ache for literate, informed and intelligent input from
    anyone. We are even open to contrary points of view.

    Would you be interested in writing a piece about the ins and outs of
    handicapped parking in Chicago. I mean, you got most of it written
    already. What do you think?

    Consider this an open invitation to contribute whatever input, tips, legal
    advice, articles, commentary…whatever.

    E-mail me directly at:

    Again, thanks for great comment.

    Very truly yours,


  3. Parker says:

    Hey Parking Ticket Geek,

    Thanks for all your helpful tips! I wish I would have come across them sooner…

    I just got a ticket for not moving my car for 7 days–this is really a law?? The thing is, my car is totally plowed in. The snow was plowed halfway up the door, then it melted and refroze–so my car is buried in solid ice to the top of the tires. Since the city plowed me in, can I claim that the city is responsible for this violation? Any thoughts on other tactics?
    (I’m planning to move my car on Saturday after the heat wave sets it free, but I’m worried about getting another ticket in the meantime! This is an entirely separate problem.)
    Your thoughts will be appreciated.

  4. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    I’ll try to address your question in the weekly Ask the Geek column soon.

    The short answer is that you testify that you had moved it within that week. But it’s your word vs. theirs. If they have photos, or their are notations about the condition of your car on the ticket, you may be screwed.

    Just explain that the ticket is wrong and you move your car every few days.

  5. RonM says:

    Consider people banging into the doors and not the bumpers. Bad idea.

  6. Adriana says:

    Good Morning,
    My mom has been visiting my brother at Northwestern Hospital everyday and all day, her validated parking is never less than $40. Can she park at a meter since she has a handicap license plate? Thanks for your help!

  7. European says:

    [quote]…I understand and appreciate your creative thinking, but we live in the United States of America, NOT Europe. Don’t those goofs across the Atlantic drive on the wrong side of the road too? Idiots!

    Parallel park in Chicago and you won’t get a ticket.

    Very truly yours,

    The Geek…[/quote]

    Hi dear not-so-Geek…
    I feel the need to inform you that the only places in Europe that drive on “the wrong way” are the British Isles, Cyprus and Malta, none of them physically connected to the “right way” driving Continental Europe. Thus, I would propose you to check your sources better.
    Another proposal would be to don’t judge the driving needs and habits of a place that probably you, as rest 300 million yankees, have never visited. I would be glad to welcome you in one of the numerous historic cities of my “wrong way” continent and you’re highly advised to bring your Hummer over here to move around. Good luck with that and we wish you a pleasant stay.:)

    Thank you,
    A hoping European…

  8. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Thanks for straightening the Geek out and for the info.

    The Geek only wishes he could come visit Europe. But the recession has made me even more broke than normal. Perhaps some day. Thanks!

  9. Ira Brand says:

    I thought of a zany idea of a handicapped parking spot directory. Then
    residents as well as visitors might avoid driving excesively looking for a spot.

    The down siide is that it could cause vehicular crowding making it more difficult to find one. Searching, indeed, keeps motorists spread out.

    Of course, one could walk the streets and make his/her own map. Perhaps this map already exists.

    Any thoughts on this idea.

  10. […] Would’ve been nice to have a tiny car like this in Europe! image credit […]

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