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

165 Responses to Ask The Parking Ticket Geek

  1. Mr. X says:

    Hey Bud, Boy am I happy I found a site like this one, and it makes me happier that you’re helping out the people in Chi-town like this… Ok, I ran into a bit of a hiccup the other day. Long story short, I lived in Illinois. Moved to LA. Got new California Plates… But I have not changed them yet..(yes, I know Im lazzy, I’ll get to it tho, I swear) So anyways, while having my Illinois plates, I got a stupid parking ticket for parking close to the bus loading zone in the city. Its a freaking $300 fine!! they are crazy!! Anyways, I left my hazards on to pick something up at the local business on the corner and they got me. My Question is… can I blow off the ticket since I’ll be changing plates to California plates? Got any advice for me? Thank you for your time man.

  2. Mr. X says:

    Hi geek its me again.. Just letting you know, on the ticket where it says vin or permit number, the officer circled “vin” and wrote down the vin number. 2 following questions.. What does the vin mean? and 2nd, will that affect me blowing off the ticket all together? Thank you.

  3. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Quick!!! Get that Illinois plate off your car and slap your new California plate on the back of your car.

    You should also contact the Illinois Secretary of State and cancel your old plates. I would not volunteer any new address info to the SOS if you can avoid it.

    My guess is, California will have a helluva hard time connecting your Illinois plate to you and your California plate. No guarantees, but there’s a good chance that ticket may disappear due to the change. Again, no promises but, at the very least, it will slow them down a lot.

  4. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Mr. X,

    If you’re telling me the ticket has BOTH the VIN and license plate listed, it’s going to be easier for California to track you down. Ouch.

    VIN stands for vehicle identification number which is the unique identifier for each and every vehicle manufactured and sold in the U.S. A car’s VIN never changes even though it may have many lic. plates through the years.

  5. Nick says:

    Hi! I got a ticket for parking back in November that I haven’t paid yet, but just a few days ago got a new car with new plates. Will that old ticket still follow me if I don’t pay it? Same mailing/registration addresses on the new plates but obviously different car, different plates.


  6. Mr. X says:

    Happy new year Geek!, Thank you so much for giving me all the info today. I double checked the ticket and it does have both my VIN and Illinois Plate number on it. However, the officer only wrote down the last 6 digits of the VIN. Shouldn’t he have written all those Letters and Numbers before it? Can I still manage to get off the hook because he didn’t really get my full VIN? Regardless, I’ll call the Sec. of State asap to cancel the old illinois plates…which by the way, are they going to be asking a bunch of questions like you said? I would hate for them to ask me questions that will help build a lead on me if I where to blow off that ticket. Thanks!

  7. B says:

    The standardized vin breakdown can be found here:
    Assuming your car is a MY 1981 and newer of course.

    With make, model, year, and the last six digits most of the VIN can be determined. Enough to determine it uniquely to one car. (Typically automakers do not reuse the sequential number within the same model.) But it takes human effort to do it as far as I know. It could be done with software, it’s relatively trivial to code, so it’s going on the idea that nobody has bothered to yet.

  8. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    If it’s within the same state, it’s going to be pretty easy for the issuing city to track you down.

    If it’s a Chicago parking ticket, they may not link the old registration to the new one until you get a ticket on the new one. However, the city is constantly updating how it gathers info on scofflaws.

    My guess is, ultimately that old ticket is going to haunt you in the end.

  9. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Its up to you whether you want to pay it or not.

    For one parking ticket, your credit rating will NOT be affected. Only when drivers accumulate oodles of tickets which force the city to file a lawsuit or get a judgment against a driver will their credit rating be dinged.

    Since you only have 1 ticket, you’re not in danger of being booted. Vehicle owners can only be booted for 2 unpaid tickets over 12 months old or three tickets in final determination status.

    Personally, I wouldn’t pay it.

  10. Mr. X says:

    Man, what a bummer….I guess I’m screwed. I’ll just have to fork over those $300 ]:

    Thank you guys so much for all the info. I has helped out a ton. Also, let this be a lesson to all of you… DO NOT PARK ON A A BUS LOADING ZONE IN CALIFORNIA… NO MATTER WHAT. I rather have spent 50 or 60 double parking for a few minutes than $300 on a loading zone. Thanks geek and B. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  11. B says:

    The odds are in your favor, Mr. X that they won’t bother to track it through, but it’s odds, they’ll find you if they want to.

  12. Deb says:

    I live in NYC and owe parking tickets on a car I owned 1 yr ago. If I purchase a new car and go to DMV to register it will the tickets in my old license plates follow me?

  13. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Not sure. Our expertise is on Chicago and Illinois.

    I would consult with Larry Berezin, who’s NYC’s resident parking ticket expert.

    He’s a SUPER knowledgeable expert on the subject.

  14. sandra moaza mi says:

    I got a meter expired ticket in PHILADELPHIA. I am a resident of NY can day suspended my vehicle registration?

  15. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I doubt, for just a single ticket, would Philly suspend your vehicle registration. It usually takes a heckuva lot more tickets than just one.

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