Ask The Parking Ticket Geek

Dear Geek,

I am a Fleet Manager and have just received two incorrect city stickers.

The license plate number on the stickers don’t match the actual plate on each car.

When I contact the City Clerk’s Data Services office I was told the plate numbers don’t matter. There should be a letter stating that non matching plates and city stickers are not a ticketable (her word not mine) offense.

Is this a city worker trying to get me off the phone or is it legit? I’ve been scouring the web and so far no information exists. It was my understanding that the plate numbers had to match on the sticker AND the vehicle. Any information you might have would be helpful.



Don’t sweat this one Chris…

Ticket writers are instructed NOT to ticket for any discrepancies between city stickers and license plates.

Kristine Williams, spokesperson for the City Clerk’s office, tells me these discrepancies won’t trigger a ticket because their databases aren’t up to date enough and may not be for another year or so.

“The license plate number is only a security feature,” explains Williams. “However, if someone does want a correction made, we will do so at any City Clerk office location but the person must bring in the sticker and original purchase receipt.  Again, I want to emphasize that anyone with incorrect plate information is OK to use the sticker – they cannot receive a ticket for this.”

See? Nothing to worry about Chris.

The Geek

Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

I am about to purchase a car from an individual, and this person owes hundreds
of dollars in parking fines.

My question to you is, once the title is changed over in my name and I get new license plates, will the tickets follow me, or is the seller still responsible for the tickets.



Hey Vicky!

This is a good question.

But the answer is NO, the tickets do not follow you if you get your own license plate on the car.

The tickets don’t technically belong to the vehicle but the license plate and in reality the registered owner of that plate.

So you’re cool.

Some people make the mistake of not taking off their license plate when they sell their car and the new owner starts parking in front of hydrants, blocking alleys, in handicapped spots–whatever and the former owner starts getting hit with the tickets. OUCH!

One person I know of left the old owner’s plate on their car and they got booted because of the former owner’s tickets.

So, you are wise to get a new plate.

The Geek

Hi Geek,

I came across your website and wondered if you had the answer to my question.

I received a parking ticket and I contested it but was still found liable.

It was one of those instances where it is a tow zone during weekdays, and I was parked on a Saturday, yet they still did not dismiss it. Can I just not pay the ticket?

Thanks so much,



If you don’t pay the ticket it doubles after 21 days.

If you have more than 3 unpaid tickets in Chicago, you can get booted.

If you have two or more unpaid tickets in Chicago, you can get booted.

If it’s just one ticket, the worst thing that will happens is you’ll get nasty computer generated letters from the city and/or a collection agency. You’ll probably get a few phone calls.

However, if you keep your nose clean and only have one ticket on your record, there’s not much any city can really do until they change the law.

Sound good?

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

107 Responses to Ask The Parking Ticket Geek

  1. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Maybe, possibly is the answer.

    If the city can link the new plates with the old plates, the answer would be yes. This would most likely occur when you get a ticket on your new plate and don’t pay it right away.

    I’m guessing you’re not from Chicago as, we don’t tow here initially. We boot, then tow if you don’t pay after 24 hours.

  2. Trellio says:


    I have parking tickets on an old license plate that I am paying on monthly as it is pretty high.

    Will having a new license plate buy me time and stall things, since they have everything under a different plate number?

  3. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    If you have a current payment plan…keep on paying it.

    You don’t want to default on your plan. However, if you default, it might take them a while to connect you to your new plate. But ultimately, they probably will.

  4. yadira says:

    Hello I bought a car from my friend in 2013 and she had multitude of tickets I never changed to new license plate and of course I got a couple tickets my self after but now that I’m paying my own tickets all of hers are coming up as well .. is it going to be a problem when I get my new tags should I have to worry about paying this tickets that don’t belong to me ?

  5. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    That license plate does not belong to you, so technically you cannot be held responsible for ANY of those tickets.

    However, you should go ahead and pay the tickets the vehicle was issued while you were the owner.

    But even before that, change the plates to your name ASAP!!!

    Do it immediately and then don’t worry about the former owner’s tickets–it’s not your problem.

  6. DoR Employee says:

    Geek….heres a problem.

    Since she apparently didn’t change the plate over when she took ownership of the vehicle…those prior owner tickets are now going to be her problem.

    Unless the prior owner calls Finance and declares them theirs and sets up a payment plan.

  7. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    If the young lady who bought the car didn’t change the registration with SOS, the former owner is responsible for ALL the tickets–prior and current.

    If she did change the license plate (registration) into her name, then you are right, the new owner is responsible for the old tickets as well as the new.

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