Ask The Parking Ticket Geek

Hi Geek,

Do you know if you can contest a parking ticket via email or online?

I have the supporting documentation to show they ticketed me while I was parked legally. I have the ticket showing the issue time of 3:08PM and I have the ticket from the meter showing that it did not expire until 3:41PM.

I also have the transaction from my bank debit card showing the fee paid to LAZ. I’d like to email something right to Bea as well to complain…got her email address?

Best regards,


Maybe in the future, but currently tickets cannot be contested online Mr. Angry.

The former head of Administrative Hearings, Scott Bruner was looking into the possibility of contesting tickets via the internet, but the city is currently broke and Bruner left his job last year.

It sounds like, if you present the proper documentation, you should have no problem beating the ticket.

And, I don’t have the e-mail address for Bea Reyna-Hickey, the Director of the Department of Revenue. However, it might not be too hard to figure it out.

If you want to bring this type of really stupid mistake to the Dept. of Revenue’s attention, call Street Operations at 312-744-4500 and ask to speak to a supervisor.


The Geek


Here’s a theoretical question for you: Bob pays for parking between 2pm and 3pm. At 3:15 pm, Bob has not moved his car and receives a parking ticket for an expired meter. Bob gets back to his car at 3:30 pm, and sees the ticket.

He also notices that Mary, a complete stranger, is pulling out of her spot, and asks Mary for her receipt. Mary gives it to him– her receipt is for time from 2:45 to 4:45, which would cover the time when Bob got his parking ticket.

Is it worth it for Bob to fight the ticket, using Mary’s receipt? If so, how could Bob pursue such an action?



Is it worth it to fight the ticket?

That’s up to you “Bob”.

Legally/technically you’re on the hook–you came back too late to your car and the meter receipt expired.

However, if you can provide a paid meter receipt for the time in question as evidence at a hearing, theoretically this should get the ticket dismissed.

A creative person could “theoretically”  make the case that the ticket writer somehow missed the paid receipt on the dashboard. Perhaps it fell so far down between the windshield and dashboard it couldn’t be read by the ticket writer. Who knows?!?

Of course, we’re both just talking theoretically, right “Bob?”

So, theoretically, your friend “Bob” should win.


The Geek

Yo Geek!

Yesterday I got a ticket for an expired meter. It was written 6 minutes after the meter expired.

I arrived at my car at the 7 or 8 minute mark and saw no orange vested ticket writer in the vicinity.

A friend told me of Mayor Daley’s grace period … apparently, that has been rescinded.

Any ideas?


Your timing is pretty darn bad Molly.

Not only did the 5 minute grace period evaporate from the municipal code a few days ago, but even if it were still in place, you would be 1 minute too late to use that.

While I’m sure you don’t want to hear this, I guess my advice would be to pay the ticket before the fine doubles.


The Geek

Hi, Parking Geek.

I am in a rock ‘n’ roll band from the southeast. We recently played Reggie’s Music Joint on S. State Street. We travel in a van with a trailer in tow. We parked in front of the venue just after 4pm and paid the maximum five hours as stated on the meter. The block stops being metered at 9pm.

We displayed the ticket on our dash and went inside.

90 minutes later I saw a cop writing a ticket for ‘overstay or expirer meter.’ I asked her why, and she said there was a 90 minute limit on parking. I showed her my meter ticket, to which she replied, “I don’t know why it let you do that. Is it after 6pm?” –At this point I was completely dumbfounded.

There is no mention of the trailer on the ticket. The ticket she wrote has the wrong state and tag expiration. Totally mystified at the situation, I left the van there since I had paid for parking.

At 7:30 she wrote us another identically incorrect ticket.

I have pictures of all the signage around the van, our valid parking stickers, and our van plates, but I doubt the effectiveness of contesting by mail. Since they got the state and tag exp. date wrong can this just be ignored? Will it be thrown out if I contest by mail? If they see pictures of the trailer can they issue another ticket for meter violation?

Personally appealing these tickets is probably out of the question. Please advise!


Victim of Northern Aggression

Hey Jason,

I really hope it wasn’t a cop that wrote you those parking tickets.

Because I would really be bummed to know someone with their entire frontal lobe removed from their cranium is one of Chicago’s finest.

Here’s the thing. If the ticket writer wrote the wrong state and expiration, there’s a good chance these tickets may not ever show up.

So, wait and see if you get a Notice of Violation from Chicago before you try fighting the tickets. If the notice doesn’t show up, it means you’re in the clear.

GEEK TIP: It may take months and even years in some cases for these violation notices to show up to out of state addresses. Put all your
documents, evidence and photos in a file somewhere just in case.

You can win contesting by mail if you have enough evidence and write a good letter.

I’m guessing by the photos you have and receipts you’ve held onto, you should probably prevail.

Make sure you bring up all the errors the ticket writer made as these errors should be grounds for the hearing officer to dismiss the tickets

But, don’t worry too much if you happen to lose. What can these jerks from Chicago do to someone like yourself who doesn’t live here? Not much!

Hope this helps.


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

35 Responses to Ask The Parking Ticket Geek

  1. TheReader says:

    My question for “Bob” would be why he feels he is above following the same rules we all follow? If nobody paid for parking, there would be no spots available. So if everyone did what Bob is suggesting, our system would be broken.

    I’m guessing people like Bob are the self-centered type that could care less. It’s All About Bob (baby-step to the meter, baby-step step to the meter) and that’s where it end. Bob cheats on his taxes, without considering that those who don’t cheat end up paying his share too. Bob rides the shoulder in traffic, cutting off all the people who didn’t, without regard to what a d-bag he’s being.

    MY advice to Bob is both hypothetical and real. You aren’t special and you aren’t better than the rest of us who use the parking meters every dang day. Pay for the time you use and if you get a ticket, then pay the ticket and learn your lesson. Until then, Keep Sailing Bob.

  2. DoR Employee says:


    I’d bet it was a Cop. Those people write whatever they want and there is NO Oversight into their tickets like there are into PEA’s.

    City Policy is that if the RECEIPT IS NOT Expired, and the Rate Paid per hour is correct for the area you are in; there is No Overstay.

    I can ticket you for overstay if you are in an expired status for longer than the Max time for the area (2hr max, 3hr max, 10hr max, etc…), but not until the Receipt is expired.

    Get the Geek the Ticket Number and the Badge # and the Unit number, and they file an Official 3-1-1 Complaint.

    Enforcement needs to be done Correctly, or not at all.

    Because, if the box is putting out incorrect receipts; it is BROKEN, and NO enforcement of Expired Meter/Overstay is allowed on a broken meter.

  3. DoR Employee says:

    Mr Angry…

    Just to ask the silly question….the Violation is for an Expired Meter?

  4. BXK says:

    Out of State Citation:

    Just FYI, I had a car registered in California, supposedly, illegally parked at some point. I got the ticket in the mail over a year after the alleged violation. So, yeah, it seems it can take awhile.

    I fought it and it was dismissed.

    The crazy thing is that I never had a ticket placed on my car. A ticket just showed up in the mail a year later. I was pretty shocked really. I couldn’t even remember when/for what I could possibly have been cited. Oh well…

  5. Rinzler says:


    you can try to run the scam, but if you haven’t heard, Chicago PEA’s use a little thing called a camera and they love to take photographs. I tried that routine and before I even had a chance to offer a defense, the hearing officer called me up to look at the monitor showing the photos taken, and then asked me what I wanted to say. I told her that the scarf look good on her and wanted to know where I go to pay the ticket.

  6. DoR Employee says:

    You made me laugh Rinzler…

  7. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    You make a good point regarding the photos.

    However, this means the photo actually has to be decent enough to be used as evidence.

    I’ve seen many cases where the photos were completely useless. In one case, a friend showed me a photo where the dashboard was shown without a meter receipt, but because it was dark (at least I believe) the ticket writer missed the paid receipt on the other side of the vehicle.

  8. DoR Employee says:

    And Geek…

    I’m working on getting a copy of the Memo that was Sent out to Ser Co, Revenue AND the CPD to the effect of what I posted.

  9. Andrey says:

    Geek, DoR Employee,

    I got a handwritten (by a cop) ticket for blocking a “driveway” at 330 E Erie. Right here:,-87.621997&sspn=0.034757,0.084543&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=330+E+Erie+St,+Chicago,+Illinois+60611&ll=41.894758,-87.619845&spn=0,0.003664&z=19&layer=c&cbll=41.894214,-87.619464&panoid=iu_rTXVieVbSqtcVmATW9w&cbp=12,333.37,,0,7.49

    I was a demolition site then, but now its an empty lot about a block in length there solid wall of green chainlink fence there. Where i parked the curb is flat just like it had been when it was a actual driveway, but now, as i said, there is just a fence and no actual driveway and no signs, nothing. There are 3 other similar spots there. I scheduled a hearing. Any idea on how i should fight this?

    Thanks. Great website!

  10. DoR Employee says:

    Take Pictures Andrey…

    And ask the ALO a simple question…If there is No place to Drive a Vehicle…how can it be a driveway if it is all fenced up.

  11. Andrey says:

    Thanks, I will let you know what happened.

  12. Andrey says:

    So, I went yesterday (it’s such a fun place, with all the cabbies pleading their case) and got the ticket dismissed. I followed your advise an argued that its not really a driveway since it is fenced up. Gave ALO pictures. He said it was not my prerogative to determine whether it is a driveway or not (i still don’t get that, tho) but he would dismiss the ticket cause its inconsistent. Told me not to park there again.

    Thanks guys!

  13. DoR Employee says:

    Congratz Andrey…

    The kicker is the ALO is 100% correct. The driver of a vehicle in Chicago is not legally certified to determine what is a Driveway.

    If the Ramped access point is still there…it qualifies.

    But the ALO was also correct because it is Inconsistently applied.

  14. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    That’s great news. It offsets my bad mood from hearing from a buddy who LOST today at a hearing.

    I particularly appreciate the advice DoR gave new. Thanks DoR!

    But I have to mildly disagree with the ALO. The idea that a driver can’t be logical (and ticket writer as well) when determining that the cut pavement in this particular case is currently not a driveway is kind of lame.

    If a gate that allowed entrance and exit of a vehicle was there, that would be different. This is a freakin’ fence. NO one can get a car in there. It comes down to simple logic.

    However, the bottom line is, you scored a win. The system does and can work–as much as a pain as it can be sometimes.

  15. Chris says:

    “You make a good point regarding the photos.

    However, this means the photo actually has to be decent enough to be used as evidence.”

    Got a ticket for expired license tag (which it was…), but the pic didn’t show the tag. Challenged by mail using the pic they took, ticket dismissed.

  16. Dan says:

    The city gave me a ticket citing I did not properly display the sticker when it was in fact properly displayed. Even their evidence photo shows it. To remove all doubts, I also took a picture of the entire front car, that shows the sticker is on the lower passenger side of the windshield. I contested the ticket and still lost.

    They also added that “Insufficient Evidence of a Current City sticker”. I have copes of both 2010 and 2011 city sticker. Is there anyway to fight this? This is like an outright robbery from the City. In this case, the city is even going against their very own picture (evidence) to give me the ticket. Their picture shows the sticker was properly posted. Any advise to have this fixed?

  17. Rinzler says:

    I would file for an appeal and when you win, turn around and sue the city for all the costs your incurred.

  18. Dan says:

    To be honest, I will probably pay the fine of $120.00 if I can’t find any other ways to fix their mistake. Because it’s not worth my time to go downtown to file a case against the City, which probably require me to come back when the case is up for hearing. I don’t have much vacation days off from work to use for this.

    I already sent them my proof which shows the sticker is properly displayed. The sticker itself has not expired, in the picture that the city took one can clearly see the design of the 2010 City sticker, which is good until 6/31/2011. I was hoping to see if there’s any other way I can clear their mistake such as resubmitting my contest letter to a more senior dept. or emailing the contest letter to the correct individual or dept.

    For those interested in seeing the facts and other information on this ticket. Below is the link to view the photos of the parking ticket. Once you put the ticket # and plate # into the link you will see the pictures that they took of my car.

    The ticket #: 9180887445
    Plate: L329351

    To site admin: If I am not supposed to put the ticket and plate # here, please feel free to moderate this information out of the posting.

    Thank you.

  19. KevinG says:

    Umm dan,

    Maybe I’m seeing something wrong but to me the picture clearly shows the 09-10 city sticker (dogs) which expired a year ago…

  20. Rinzler says:

    Looks like a bad photo taken. From what I understand, ticket writers are supposed to take a full photo of the windshield (showing the plate and window,) with a 2nd photo showing a close up of what stickers are shown.

  21. DoR Employee says:


    Firstly…from the time stamp on the photo…Ser Co Enforcement.

    Secondly….The city sticker shown in the photo is the 2009/2010 Sticker…Expired 6/30/2010….citations allowed 7/16/10 or after.

    Because of the way the Photo was taken, there is no view of a valid 2010-2011 Brown City Sticker. The photo blows To be honest. 7:34pm in June Isn’t Dark. A full View shot of the Windshield is best for QUALITY Proof.

  22. michael shannon says:

    One a week i visit my friends from the city I live in Franklin park and parked in a area that their are no zones for parking. I got a 120 dollar ticket for “no or improperly displayed ticket” What can i do to fight this ticket.

  23. Dan says:

    DoR Employee,

    That’s a good point you pointed out there. You could be right, somehow I had the wrong sticker on my car and no one caught it for the entire year until now? As much as I want it done, I am not able to take a picture of the old sticker and confirm; It ripped in to pieces when I took it off and put in this year’s sticker which I just bought recently. I’d give the city the benefit of the doubt here, maybe I never put the correct sticker on the entire time? I guess I won’t be able to sort this one out since I don’t remember if in fact I did put up the sticker last year. Thank you for your help. I appreciate it.

  24. Just Wondering says:

    Hey Geek,
    I was ticketed for expired meter, The officer that wrote the ticket got everything right on my vehicle except the body type, I drive and two doors and he wrote that my car was a 4 doors, What should I write in the appeal and will I automatically win because the officer made a mistake?

  25. DoR Employee says:

    Just Wondering….

    Firstly…doesn’t sound like a Ticket that was issued in the City of Chicago….Handwritten Parking Tickets in this city do not require body type or color or model, only the Plate/Exp Date and Manufacture type (chevy/ford/vespa/etc…).
    We are going to need more Info to give good advice to you.

  26. Chicago Parking Sucks says:

    I received two tickets for two different offenses, which are actually the same offense on a Chicago parking ticket. One was for parking in front of a fire hydrant, the other in front of a driveway! Both are listed as the same offense–and each is $150.

    There is at least 20 feet, likely more about 25-30 feet, between the fire hydrant and the driveway that I was parked between. My car is 15 feet long. How can I be in front of both?

    They should prosecute these idiots writing tickets. I took pictures and am so livid I want to sue this city for such a colossal waste of time. The ticket-writers should be forced to pay the fine if they are overturned. I’m so upset right now.

  27. Question Please says:


    I have a question,

    I’ve lived in the city for 5 years now and I know all about the crap that goes on with ticketing and whatever.

    But I recently got a ticket that had everything right but the state. My car is registered in Illinois but the ticket says Ohio.

    Do I still have to worry about it?



  28. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    God cut you a break today.

    That ticket will not hold up.

    Here is what you do.

    Fight the ticket and in your letter or in person explain that the ticket is not issued properly. Then, whip out a copy of your car’s registration that show’s your car is registered in Illinois. BOOM! The ticket should get dismissed.

    I always advise doing it in person as your chances are better than by mail.

    Some people in this situation wait to see if they actually get a notice of violation from the city before contesting. Because, the theory goes, the city will be trying to find someone with your plate number registered in Ohio, so the ticket may NEVER come back to you. But, if you want to be safe, fight it and you should win.

  29. B. AITCH says:


    Any insight into my conundrum?

    I was issued 5 $60 tickets for an expired registration in one month. The registration was only expired for the month of September. 2/5 tickets were written after the secretary of state received payment, but had not sent out the sticker yet. I have documentation proving this.

    Is there any luck for people trying to appeal for leniency. The hearing judge entered that I was still to be held liable, and then the tickets doubled due to being in final determination. So basically, this 1 month of expired registration will cost me $700! I am young, and don’t have very much money……but had to pay due not wanting to be booted. Any help would be awesome!

  30. DoR Employee says:


    Firstly…sorry about the bad luck with all those tickets.

    However, city municipal policy regarding Compliance tickets like Expired Plates state that a ticket can be issued every 24 hours.

    The Sec State is horrible about getting plate stickers out in a timely fashion after payment is received. As such, I personally recommend using a currency exchange to renew your plates. The additional “service fee” they charge is well worth being able to avoid expired plate tickets ( singular and multiples).

  31. DoR Employee says:

    CPS…. Question,

    We’re both tickets issued at the same date/time?

    If yes…one of them must be dismissed as officers (police or other sworn city ticket writers) are only allowed to issue one parking violation at a time.

    You can get both tickets in the same day, but not the same time frame as the first Parker. There must be a time elapse between them … But there isn’t a specific amount of time that is stated that I am aware of.

    Now, with that out of the way;
    The 150.00$ driveway ticket is : Block Access Fire Lane/Driveway/Alley
    Within 15 feet of a Fire Hydrant is a 100.00$ ticket and different municipal code than the above.

    What time of day was the tickets issued at? Was it a weekday or a weekend? We’re the tickets computer printout types in the big orange envelope or handwritten?

    Personally, if you are too close to a hydrant I will ticket you (generalized statement here) without feeling any remorse.
    The driveway tickets are ones that, to my knowledge; don’t get issued a lot. It’s a point of view thing for the most part, and we in DoR/DoF tend to issue those off of complaints from the homeowner.

    The Fire Lane part of that 150.00$ citation can only be enforced if there is an actual Fire Lane sign posted.

  32. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Dear B.Aitch,

    First, your name is making me chuckle, so thanks for that.

    Second, not to pour more salt on your wound, you need to do whatever is necessary to make sure your license plates are up to date. If the Sec. of State goofs up, in the end, you are responsible for making sure those plates are current. Next time, either do it in person at the SOS or spend the extra $5.50 and get it from a Currency Exchange.

    That being said, once the tickets have entered Final Determination status and doubled, there’s nutin’ you can do.

    Sorry B.Aitch.

  33. Lee says:

    I live in California and I received a ticket for an expired meter when I went to pick up my dog from the groomer. After reading through the web site, I checked the ticket for any incorrect information, but everything seems to be correct and I couldn’t find any other suggestions or recommendations for fighting this type of ticket (if of course, there are any ways to fight it). If I missed the tips, will you please let me know? Thanks so much for what you do!

  34. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    One way to fight the ticket is to contend the meter was not expired when the ticket was issued. Sometimes, just by making the effort to contest the ticket and argue the time was not expired will be enough to beat the ticket. More often than not, however, this is hard to beat as it comes down to your word versus the ticket writer’s.

  35. Jelly Bean says:

    Depending on the California city, the meters will be tied to in-ground sensors. You can TRY to claim the meter was expired, but Enforcement will just pull up the sensor info for the day. It lists when the space was occupied, how much was paid (by cash or credit card), when the time expires, and when the space was vacated.

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