Ask The Parking Ticket Geek: City Sticker Edition

EDITOR’S NOTE: With the end of city sticker season barely behind us, and the number of questions regarding city stickers dramatically outnumbering questions on other issues, we’re devoting this week’s entire column to city stickers.

For this “special edition” of Ask The Parking Ticket Geek, we’ve consulted with the official spokesperson for Chicago’s City Clerk, Kristine Williams for her city sticker wisdom on these questions as well.

Hi Geek!

If my car was inoperable and I did not buy a sticker in 2009, will I be “penalized” when I get my 2010 sticker?

Also, since the car became operable on 08/03/10, will there be a late fee?



Dear Peg,

This is why we have Ms. Williams helping us out, because I really had no idea on this one.

“This reader would not be penalized for not buying a 2010-2011 city vehicle sticker,” according to Williams. “However, she should know that any vehicle principally garaged in the city more than 30 days needs a city of Chicago vehicle sticker. So, if the car was parked in a public area (street or public garage), it is likely to get a ticket.”

In other words Peg, get your butt in gear, cough up the 75 bucks and slap that city sticker on your windshield pronto!

The Geek

Hello Mr. Geek,

I have a question that no one seems to know the correct answer.

I purchased my city sticker for this year, unfortunately my engine went out 2 weeks later. What am I to do about that?

Do I have to buy another sticker, if so, how long of a grace period if any do I have to purchase another. I see now that they have your car information integrated in the sticker. Please help!!


Sorry Naskie, the Geek is stumped once again. I have no friggin’ clue.

So again, let’s bring in Ms. Williams to give us her input.

According to Williams, in this situation, a driver needs to complete what’s called a “transfer” of the city sticker, which can be completed at any City Clerk location.

“Essentially, when the person gets a new car (which it sounds like they want to do), they will need to make sure they have the old sticker in whatever condition peeled from the window of the old car, the original sticker purchase receipt and the new vehicle bill of sale,” explains Williams. “There is no grace period, just when he or she purchases the new car this can be done at that time.”

The bad news is, it will cost you an additional $20. I guess that’s better than having to pay another $75.

So whatever you do Naskie, don’t let that dude from Victory Auto Wreckers tow your junker away without getting that damn city sticker off your windshield.


My wife and I recently moved to Chicago from Wisconsin and are residing in an area without permit parking.

So far (2 weeks) her car and my motorcycle haven’t been ticketed for not having a city sticker…is this because we have Wisconsin plates?

I was about to and purchase the stickers but came across the U of Chicago website that states full time students don’t need to register/purchase stickers as long as they are in school.

Is this true?


Here’s the deal Michael.

Technically, you’re supposed to get a city sticker no matter what state your car is registered, even if you’re just going to school in Chicago, according to Williams.

“Anyone with a vehicle in the city more than 30 consecutive days is required to have a City of Chicago vehicle stickers,” says Williams. “This includes students. Vehicle stickers can be purchased without a late fee penalty by showing a valid lease or mortgage within the last 30 days. After the 30 day mark, the constituent is subject to a late fee penalty. Where the vehicle is registered and the license plate information does not matter for city stickers.”

That’s the official line from the city. So, with apologies to the always helpful and affable Ms. Williams, the Geek has a contrary view.

Despite the language of the municipal code, I think it’s a load of crap that students have to get a city sticker. The city sticker is supposed to be for Chicago residents. If you’re from out of state and just in town for several months out of the year, you’re not necessarily a Chicago resident. Most likely your driver’s license is from Wisconsin, you may be registered to vote out of state and like you mentioned, your car is registered up north as well. Many students still legally still live with their parents.

To me, this language in the code is just a scam to bleed more money from out of town students, and I don’t like it. In fact, it makes me kinda mad.

If you really want to split hairs, according to the code the car has to be in city for 30 consecutive days. My guess, that you’ll probably drive to Wisconsin to visit your family once every few weeks, which will break up that 3o day threshold the city is looking for.

And, if you happen to get a city sticker ticket on a vehicle with out of state plates and have an out of state driver’s license, your chances of beating a city sticker violation are pretty darn good.

You just make the argument that you’re NOT a Chicago resident and your car is NOT registered in Chicago, let alone the State of Illinois, and therefore NOT required to get a gosh darned Chicago city sticker!!!

This is not a slam dunk defense, but I’ve seen it work many, many times for students and others with cars registered outside the city and/or state.

So, those are the two options. You’re smart Michael, you go to the U of C, you’ll make the intelligent decision.

The Parking Ticket Geek

Mr. Geek,

I have a question about City Stickers. In 2006 I moved to Chicago from another state. When I transferred my license and plates, no one told me I needed a City Sticker. I didn’t even know it existed.

I parked my car in a private garage and rarely used it, so it didn’t become an issue until last year when I accidentally parked in a rush hour tow zone. So on top of the parking ticket and the towing fee, I also had to pay for the City Sticker AND the late fee. It ran me over $300. Of course ignorance wasn’t an excuse.

This year, my situation has changed. I’ve been keeping my car at my aunt’s house in Oak Brook. I changed the insurance and registration addresses to her house. However, I still live in the city, so my official address is in Chicago.

Now that I’ve bored you with all that back story, here’s my question. If I were to park my car in Chicago, could they ticket me for not having a City Sticker? They’d look up my plate number and see it’s registered in Oak Brook. But would they look at the owner’s address and see that I live in Chicago, and ticket me anyway?

It would certainly be ridiculous if they expected every Illinois citizen who potentially might park in Chicago to get a City Sticker…but I wouldn’t put it past them.

Thanks for your help!



So, you’re kinda in the Twilight Zone of vehicle ownership.

I have to think you’re ok here.

Many people, in order to avoid buying a city sticker, keep their vehicles registered in the suburbs despite actually residing in the city proper.

I totally understand and pass no judgment on these people. In fact, I am always a hair breadth away from endorsing this, but always think better of it.

But, it sounds like you live in the city while your car lives in Oak Brook, and rarely does your car’s wheels actually touch the streets of Chicago.

You have a weird relationship with your car Ted!

Because your vehicle never in Chicago for 30 consecutive days during the year, I would say you’re in no real danger of getting a ticket, and if ticketed you could easily contest it.

I would take the extra step of trying to get yourself an Oak Brook city sticker–unless it costs more than 5 or 10 bucks. Many smaller towns will give citizens their own city stickers to deter overly aggressive Chicago ticket writers from writing you up. The Oak Brook city sticker will throw off the ticket writers. Plus, even if they check your registration, they’ll, like you said, see it’s registered out there.

So, it’s not completely impossible for you to get a city sticker ticket, despite your vehicle arrangements. But, I think chances are pretty darn slim.

Does that help?

The Geek

Special thanks again to Kristine Williams from the City Clerk’s Office for her knowledge wisdom and city sticker expertise.

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

155 Responses to Ask The Parking Ticket Geek: City Sticker Edition

  1. Aloof in Albany Park says:

    I figured as much. Who needs $200 anyways? :)

    I’m going to contact the City Clerk’s office and urge them to be proactive with people who register their vehicles in the future. If they can send mail about renewals, they can send mail for people just moving into the city. I hope other people who have this issue (who don’t pay attention to other people’s windshields, because that’s none of my business) likewise send kindly worded letters to the City Clerk to be proactive and welcoming to new Chicago residents about this ordinance. Parking Geek–you would be a great candidate to send out a letter, given your blog information!

  2. 019 Distrcit PO says:


    There is a slight problem with that…

    Right now….if you walk into a City Clerk office the staff does inquire to you about the City Sticker And RPP program.

    If you go to a Currency Exchange, I’d say 1 in 3 mention the stickers and if you need one.

    If you go to the Sec State of Illinois, and change your DL and Registration…you will never get asked about the City Sticker there..because most of their staff are suburban clout merit appointees by Jesse Whites machine.

    The Chicago City Sticker (Wheel Tax Emblem( has been City Policy for Over 100 years. Since 1915 IIRC. There are actually vehicle codes that do NOT require posted signage to be a ordinance violation that you can be ticketed for…

    For Example:

    You Must have a Front and a Rear Bumper.
    You must have a Mounted Front and Rear Plate.
    You can not have more than a 6 inch crack in your windshield.
    Your vehicles license plate can not be lower to the ground than a 12 inch height. It must not be obstructed by any foreign objects or a plate cover.
    You can’t park a truck, a Bus a motor-home, or any type of Commercial Vehicle on any Residential or Business street for longer than necessary to unload or load unless the truck is on a Paid Meter, in a Loading or Standing zone.

  3. 019 Distrcit PO says:

    And there is the other problem…

    The Sec State of Illinois does not Notify the City Clerk of a new Resident address/DL/ID Chance.

  4. AB says:

    i got a county sticker ticket but i already had county sticker just forgot to stick it. so can i contest by mail and what are the chances of me to win it?

  5. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I’m only vaguely aware of the county vehicle sticker. Where and/or how do you contest the ticket?

    I would try fighting it but I know so little about county tickets, I can’t give you any decent advise here. Fight and report back.

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