Ask The Parking Ticket Geek

Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

I was wondering if you can help me.

I’m so tired and angry with the city of Chicago. I hate giving my money to the city of Chicago. I received a meter ticket yesterday because the meter was expired by 7 minutes. Can I beat this ticket?



Sorry Irma,

But the answer is N-O– no.

One minute or seven minutes, if the meter is expired you are eligible for being ticketed.

Yesterday, I got a ticket for being just six minutes late. DOH!

Mayor Daley just recently introduced a proposal to give drivers a five minute meter grace period, but not only has it now been passed yet, you’re still two minutes over the five minutes.

I’m sympathetic, I feel your pain. This has happened to me many times over the years. Basically, tough luck and I think you’re $50 poorer.

The Geek


I drive a pickup truck and just parked at Midway Airport in the terminal garage.

The area I parked in had red signs that said the following: “Vans & SUV’s Prohibited From Parking In This Area – Violators Will Be Ticketed & Towed”.

Since my vehicle is not classified as either and has B- Truck plates I figured that this would not be an issue. When I returned I had received a ticket for 09-64-150 PARK STAND PROHIBITIED ANY TIME.

I think this is wrong and would never have parked there had they indicated that trucks were also prohibited. What’s your thoughts on contesting?



I would fight it. But then again, I’m a contentious dick.

I have to agree with you. From your description the signage does not prohibit someone from parking a pickup truck there.

I think simply, you state in your letter or at your hearing, your vehicle is not a Van or SUV, and therefore it would not be illegal for your pickup truck to park there.

If it had said “no pickup trucks” or “trucks” you would not have parked there.

The pain in the ass thing is, you’re going to need to provide photos of where you parked and the signs. The signs obviously support your story. In addition, you want to show that other vehicles were permitted to park there and it wasn’t just a tow zone or something where no one was allowed to park.

Fight it! I can’t see how you lose, but this is the first I’ve ever heard a situation where cars were allowed to park and not a van or an SUV. Must have to do with the height of the vehicle. Very odd.

Keep the Geek posted.


Dear Mr. Geek,

Why do the pay stations have two-hour maximum time limits? Why should they care if I want

to pay for lots of time as long as I pay the rate and they get their money why should they care to restrict me to how much I can put into a machine at one time?

Seems like if I were in that business all I would care about how much money I can take in.



Hey Rob!

Your question is a legitimate one.

On the surface, it is hard to understand why a driver just can’t pay to park indefinitely at a meter. But there are good reasons for time limits.

Let me explain.

Most meters in Chicago have a two hour time limit, although in some areas of the city longer time limits are allowed for a range of different reasons. Three hour limits are common around theaters to allow patrons of the arts to see the entire performance without running out to feed the meter in the middle of some dude in green tights plodding through some dramatic soliloquy. More extended times are given for areas where there’s not a lot of retail businesses so workers can park all day without having to feed the meter every few hours.

But the main reason two hour time limits exist is to promote turnover of drivers aka customers in retail shopping areas. The theory is, if cars are allowed to park all day, other consumers will not be able to find parking spaces to shop in different neighborhoods in the city.

Often, when meter rates are too low, and overstaying is not enforced, employees working in retail areas have little incentive to give up their spots, despite the fact they have to come out every two hours to feed their meter. Thus, without a time limit and the fear that one can be ticketed for overstaying the limit, some drivers never move and customers with money to burn, spend their money elsewhere, where parking spaces can be found.

So, the short answer is, time limits are necessary to for turnover of customers to help businesses generate revenue.

It allows more consumers the ability to park and shop in a retail shopping areas.

That’s the main reason.

Make sense?

Thanks Rob.

The Geek

Hey Geek!

Does having the wrong license place expiration date on my parking ticket qualify for getting the ticket thrown out due to lack of establishing a prima facie case?

It’s sort of a stretch since all the other info is correct.

Also, do you think contesting by mail is any less effecting than in person?


Crossed Fingers

Crossed Fingers,

From my understanding, while it’s not specifically mentioned in the municipal code, if the wrong expiration date is listed then the ticket is improperly written because technically, it may not be the correct license plate and therefore should be dismissed. This, I agree, is splitting hairs and I’m not 100% confident it will work.

However, to my mind, how does one know this is a legitimate ticket if the ticket writer can’t write down the correct expiration date when it’s right in front of their face? One could make the argument the ticket was manufactured and the ticket writer guessed the expiration date.

Just produce a copy of your Illinois registration at your hearing or if you contest by mail, make this argument and it should get dismissed.

Make sure you try fighting it on any other grounds too, just in case the hearing officer is not fully moved by your strategy to exploit a technicality.

Personally, I like contesting in person, because I have the ability to interact with the hearing officer and answer any questions I may have forgotten to include in a letter.  But that’s just me.


The Geek

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a semi-regular parking ticket advice column.

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query

24 Responses to Ask The Parking Ticket Geek

  1. Lynn Stevens says:

    I recommend Crossed Fingers fight the ticket in person. I once received a similar ticket in the mail, though I absolutely had not been/or parked where the supposed violation occurred. The only thing that allowed me to fight the “prima facie” presumption was an incorrect expiration date. I won.

  2. mark says:

    To be fair sometimes those tickets are written that way on purpose. The issuer gets credit for the activity and you get off as long as you take the time to contest it. I think it’s better to contest by mail. This way you don’t sabotage yourself by saying something stupid like admitting guilt.

  3. DoR Employee says:

    @ Marc:

    09-64-150 (b) : Parking/Standing prohibited anytime where signs posted.

    The make of your vehicle will help to an extent..however; it would help if you stated what you drive.

    @ Crossed Fingers:

    It should be thrown out. But do it in person…else you have a 2/1 chance to loose via mail.

  4. DoR Employee says:

    Off Topic:

    Policy Statement:

    Any Municipal Violation can only be issued 1 time per 24 hours; exception is Meter violations (every 2 hours).

    If you receive a Ticket for the same thing 2 days in a row…check the time.

    Ser Co is writting bullshit tickets.

    20 feet to a Crosswalk when there are no signs.
    New jersey plates for expired..when we have been instructed to leave that alone due to a lack of required plate/window sticker.
    Residential Parking Permit violations 1 time per day…even if the prior ticket is less than 12 hours old.

    If you fight a Ser Co ticket and win on the grounds of Improper Issuance, the Mook that wrote it gets to pay the Fine out of their Pay Check…That is Policy.

    Tickets to Fight no matter what:

    Outside of Metered Space: 9-64-200(b)
    Park Within 20 feet of a Crosswalk : 9-64-100(f)

    Attention Dept of Revenue Supervisors/Directors:

    City Employees, as private citizens, are permitted to express their personal opinions under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. City employees will not be investigated, prosecuted, interfered with or harassed as punishment or retaliation for engaging in conduct protected by the First Amendment.
    This can be found on page 16, Cornerstone # 2 as issued by the Office of Compliance.

  5. Optimus Prime says:

    Still surprised @ ticket geek getting parking violations. LOL Photos are your best friend.

  6. Ticketmaster says:

    I’m not surprised. With so many of us out there, the odds are against the ticket geek.
    Hey geek, dont feel so bad. I just got another damn red light ticket. There goes my new years resolution.

  7. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Optimus & TM,

    You would think I would learn. But, I was in a meeting that went long and stuff happens. Stupid though, I should have just paid the extra 50 cents to make sure I had enough time. Shame on me.

  8. carol sawall says:

    Went into store to get change for meter and when I came out had a ticket!!! I don’t get tickets after driving for over 45 years. How can I protest this on line?

  9. Jeff says:


    I’m no expert (I’m 1 for 2 in fighting incorrectly issued tickets) but I don’t think you can do it online. You need to mail in your contest statement along with required paperwork mentioned in the ticket. Or, request an in-person hearing.

  10. DoR Employee says:


    Fighting a ticket for “Gone for Change” is one of those rare reasons that give you a better than 50/50 chance to get a meter ticket tossed.

    However…please remember……the Pay Boxes take CC and Debit cards…

    There really is no excuse for not having a receipt on your dash anymore.

    My favorite excuse is :

    “Oh…my lights were blinking while i was getting my starbucks…why did you ticket me?”

  11. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Carol, etal.

    First, there is no way currently to contest tickets online.

    Second, in cases like this, I recommend doing a visual sweep of the block to see if there are any of our ticket writing friends prowling around.

    With their bright yellow vests, they are hard to miss.

    Wave them down and tell them explicitly, you’re getting change for your meter and show them which car is yours. Most are cool and will give you consideration.

    If you miss them going into the store, and catch a ticket in the few minutes you’re gone, I advise this:

    Immediately plug the meter with a quarter and get a receipt.

    If the receipt is minutes from the ticket time, now you have a defense. It’s not a strong defense, but you can claim you were getting money to feed to meter or walking to the meter to pay for your receipt. The minimal gap in time and your testimony may work in your favor.

    The smaller the gap, the stronger your case. If the ticket is at 12:00 and your receipt is at 12:01 or 12:02 or even 12:03, I think you might prevail.

    If it’s 12:05 or more, I would guess your chances are much lower.

    In other words, your story needs to make sense.

  12. Melissa says:

    I had 5 minutes in the parking meter and when i got back to the car there was one minute left and just turned 0 as the police guy who was just standing there started to right a ticket. he didnt notice me at first but i was there before the time expired. he said he was really sorry but he couldnt stop writing the ticket once he started to. can i fight this?
    how much would it be if i lost?

  13. Jenny says:

    We recently went on vacation and parked our car in the long term parking at Midway Airport. My license plates expired on March 31st (our car was parked there from 3/23-4/5) and we were got two $50 tickets on 4/1 and 4/4 for expired plates. Very cruel, in my opinion!! Is this worth contesting?

  14. Rinzler says:

    Jenny Jenny Jenny. Why would you go on vacation knowing that your plates were going to expire and NOT take care of them? Good luck and just remember, you had 22 days to buy the sticker.

  15. DoR Employee says:

    And Jenny…you’re actually Lucky Lucky Lucky.

    That ticket can be issued every day LEGALLY.

  16. Ben says:

    Dear parking geek,
    I recently visited NYC and had my car ticketed and towed. I arrived Sunday night July 15th and found a spot among other cars in the upper west side near a friends apartment. I briefly noticed a piece of paper taped to a tree nearby but took it as playful parking spot protection by the locals. It read: “No parking M-F 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM”. It was a plain sheet of paper with no other markings. I took the day on Monday seeing the sights and decided to make the walk to the car Tuesday morning and it was gone.

    As it turns out, the street I parked on was under a temporary regulation called a “Play street” where they block it off during the day so that children can play on it without cars running them over. My issue is that there were no official signs stating that parking was not allowed and the sign that I did see did not say that it was posted by the NYPD or anyone else who had such authority.

    Anyway, I managed to get my car back after paying hefty towing fees and got a look at the tickets. There were two tickets, one from Mon and one from Tues. I immediately noticed that different addresses were marked despite it being the same officer and the car never moved. The other thing is that one had the incorrect license plate number, and I’m fairly certain that the other one had the incorrect expiration date on the registration.

    I guess my question is, what is the best defense for these tickets if I want to contest them? I’m from PA and don’t really want to appear in person to fight these but based on my research thus far I think I can get them dismissed. Also, I found that I can apply to get a refund for towing fees if my tickets get dismissed, does that sound plausible? What if only one gets dismissed, think I can still get a refund for that?

    I’m just really unhappy that it wasn’t marked better, I guess I should have believed the sings or checked it Monday morning but it definitely seems like between the signs and the tickets I might get off easy.

  17. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    First off, let me be clear. I know a lot about Chicago parking tickets and very, very little about New York City parking tickets.

    With that understanding, I would still contest them by mail. Write a very concise, easy to understand letter. Include pictures if you can. Have your friend take photos of the trees where the signs were not posted and say that the photos accurately represent the parking environment.

    Say there were no officially sanctioned signs.

    Perhaps better advice is to check out NYC parking ticket expert Larry Berezin. He has a blog similar to this.

    I am guessing he would know a lot more about NYC tickets that the Geek. Good luck.

  18. CHRISTINA CARR says:

    Can anyone answer this . Today I was @ toys r us picking up a motorcycle so I pulled up to there customer pick up door and while I was inside with my friend in car a police man pulled up so I went out side and he told me I was in a fire zone … Errr… I exsplained to him I was picking up items and he said it doesn’t matter .. why does this store have a.customer pick up door if u can’t parkind there for them to load ur vechile?? I took pics … Should I fight ticket r just pay it …thank u

  19. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Don’t pay (at least not yet) but fight.

    Bring in the photos. Ask the store manager to write a letter on your behalf explaining that you were not parked, but “standing” for a few moments to load up a purchased item at the freakin’ CUSTOMER PICK UP DOOR!!!!!!!

    Perhaps you were not in the fire lane but very close to it. I question how the city would allow a customer pick up door for a retail store to be also a fire lane? Another thing to question is whether you were on private property or not. I am going to ask one of our friendly PEA contributors for their input here…but with this type of violation is there a difference if one was parked on the public way vs. parked on private property?

    This sounds like a real mean cop.

    Fight it, fight it, fight it!

  20. DoR Employee says:

    Here’s the thing Geek.

    Fire Lanes have Posted Signs…regardless of Private or Public Property.

    Fire Code Violations are even something that can be enforced on Private Property without Property Owner Request….by both CPD and PEA’s.

    And Fire Lanes are determined before the Stores Open…and Signs MUST be Posted…it can’t just be a Yellow Lined Curb…Signage is Required…

    Otherwise…the 150.00 Fire Lane violation could actually only be a 75.00 No Park/Stand Anytime.

    What I want to know is if the ticket was 9-64-100 B or C.

    If It was B, she has a chance with the letter.

    If it was C she is screwed…because the Municipal Code on C states ‘Block Access To or Use Of” and not “Park”

    Geek….Fire Lanes and Parking Under Fire Escapes are the 2 Parking Violations that PEA’s are allowed (per one of our Managers) to enforce without asking permission or needing permission from the property owner.

    Was this Chicago?!?!? A Chicago Cop actually got their Fat Ass out of the Squad to write a Parking Ticket that wasn’t Street Cleaning or Rush Hour?!?!?!

  21. kat says:

    Last week i went to a Walmart to return a redbox movie so i pulled up to the front, i was about to put my truck in park and go return it, then i noticed it was a for lane. Soas i began to take my for of the brake to go park, a chip flew up on me like he was going to tbone me, and turned on his lights. (mindyou i was there for 10 seconds and my truck was still in drive). He sat in his car and didn’t get out until back up showed up. Its 1am.. He gets out asks me for my license and registratio, i tell him i just pulled up and was going to park because i noticed it was a fire lane, he was there’s so fast he had to have seen the while thing and seen that i was moving..anyways he goes back to God car, comes back 10 minutes later, with a ticket and tells me have a nice night!! I’m so pissed i start to cry. I want to fight this. Do you think i have a chance ? Also, he wrote the wrong license expiration date on the ticket . Btw I’m in Indiana (portage) . The ticket says its for appoint or parking in a fire lane/IFC 9-21-16-5.5[B)

  22. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Sounds like you have some real A-hole cops in Portage.

    I would FIGHT the ticket.

    Your first line of defense is contest the ticket based on the license expiration being wrong. Bring in your vehicle registration showing your plate does not expire on the date on the ticket and therefore, it’s an improperly written ticket and MUST be dismissed.

    It should be dismissed for this. But if not, just tell your story. Calmly explain you, of course, saw it was a firelane and you had never parked there, but in fact, pulled in, noticed it was a firelane and then tried to turn around and leave. But then, some total douchebag cop blocked you from leaving. Make sure you argue that your car was never in park at anytime and therefore the violation is not correct either.

    Fight it!

  23. julie smith says:

    Ok this may seem like a silly question . but I’m planning a trip to cali but I’m flying out of the o hare airport. I went to get the tags for my car but they mailed them out and they won’t be here in time for my trip. I have to park my car at the o hare airport but I’m scared that because my tags are expired that they might tow my vehicle. Do you have any insight on this matter. If so please HELP ME!!!!! Thanks

  24. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    You probably won’t be towed, but you’re likely to be ticketed for having an expired plate.

    I would encourage you NOT to take your car to the airport–or at least not park it in a city controlled lot. If there’s a private lot, your chances for a ticket are less.

    I would recommend finding another way to get there–taxi, Uber, CTA rather than face the high risk of coming back from your trip to find your car plastered with expired tag tickets.

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