Geek Scores A Hat Trick Against The City

Some days are just better than others.

My plan for yesterday was simply to fight another of the seemingly endless stream of parking tickets my ’83 Impala seems to attract.

I had planned my day so I could take an hour off after lunch time to hit a hearing facility, but per usual my plans took a left turn.

Beer Drinking In The Park

A colleague’s niece stormed into the office waving one of the city’s blue colored ordinance violation tickets in my face asking me if I could help her with her ticket. I was a bit hesitant at first as my expertise lies with the orange tinted tickets–not the blue.

The niece was on her way to pay the ticket, but her aunt told her to swing by so I could at least look it over. So I promised to at least take a look at it, just to be polite.

It turns out, my colleague’s niece was tipping a few adult beverages in one of our fair city’s parks and somehow didn’t realize it was illegal to do so. A cop saw her alleged imbibing in said park and wrote her up.

But perhaps it was the police officer who had been drinking as he forgot to sign the violation.

Of course, if the violation isn’t signed, it’s not a properly issued ticket and legally must be dismissed. So I wrote some crib notes for the niece and sent her on her way as her court date was just an hour away.

Boot Hearing Blues

Finally, I ventured out to fight my ticket.

When I got to the Addison Street hearing facility, there weren’t a lot of drivers contesting tickets, but the guy I was behind was having a really bad day. He was having a boot hearing.

His pickup truck got booted and he couldn’t figure out why. He had no outstanding tickets. In fact, it was a new truck with fresh plates so none of this was making sense.

But the hearing officer read the municipal code which allows the city to immediately immobilize any type of semi-trailer truck, commercial vehicle or pickup truck over 4,500 pounds that is not involved in making a delivery or picking something up. The point of the law is to keep big, commercial trucks from parking on residential streets.

The Hispanic gentleman was obviously struggling with English and was bewildered by the entire process.

To his credit the hearing officer was trying to give the driver every opportunity to put up a defense that might lead to the boot being removed. But, since legal language goes over the head of English speakers, reading the municipal code to a person who barely understands English is like reading Shakespeare to a four year old.

So the hearing officer passed the case to allow the gentleman to see if he could get the VIN# for the car to see if that info would give them some insight into whether the vehicle should have been immobilized or not.

I was next in line and was able to dispose of my ticket in a matter of seconds.

Ticket dismissed.

Beating The Boot?

On my way out, the booted man was on his cellphone in the hallway. Being the busy body I am, it was necessary to see if I could help him out.

First, I asked him what type of pickup he had. I got my office on the phone and we looked up the make and model and determined it weighed 3,400 pounds–over a thousand pounds less than the 4,500 pounds necessary to allow it to be booted for parking on a street.

Obviously, some A-hole and/or idiot boot van driver is going around immobilizing regular sized pick up trucks they think are over 4,500 pounds when they are actually perfectly within their rights to park on the street.

Since my two years of high school Spanish had essentially evaporated from my pea brain, I got a Spanish speaking colleague on the phone and told her what to tell this man to best fight his booting.

I told him to first ask for a Spanish language translator. If a driver cannot effectively speak English to get a fair hearing, the city will provide a translator for them. This man needed help in this department.

The argument I outlined for him was pretty simple. Just testify that his truck was not a semi-trailer truck, not a commercial vehicle, had no signs or decals on the side and, according to, the vehicle’s weight is over a thousand pounds under the 4,500 pounds indicated in the municipal code. His VIN # and registration should back up all these facts.

After my colleague ran it down for him in Spanish over the phone, I gave him our office number to call to tell us what happened, wished him luck and headed back to work.

When I got back to the office, I had a piece of good news waiting. The beer drinking niece beat her ticket. According to her aunt, when the lawyers for the city saw the unsigned ticket, they threw it out immediately.

A few minutes later, the phone rang.

The booted man called to tell us his defense worked and a boot van was heading over to where  his vehicle was located  to release the bright yellow boot from  his truck.

Ding, ding, ding!!! Three for three in one day. A ticket hat trick.

33 Responses to Geek Scores A Hat Trick Against The City

  1. Rinzler says:

    Nice. What was your ticket for?

  2. Fast Car says:

    You’re a good man!

  3. Drew says:

    I can say that DOR Boot Trucks only go out for those as directed by their managers.

    But….I wonder what Class Truck Plate was on that pickup….cause if it is a Higher Class truck plate than a B plate….the Boot was Legal.

    B class Truck plates are 8k Lbs and Under…..But

    All Truck Plates Above the B plate are Commercial Weight Classes..

    D (8,001-12,000)
    F (12,001-16,000)
    H (16,001-26,000)
    J (26,001-28,000)
    K (28,001-32,000)
    L (32,001-36,000)
    N (36,001-40,000)
    P (40,001-45,000)
    Q (45,001-50,000)
    R (50,001-54,999)
    S (55,000-59,500)
    T (59,501-64,000)
    V (64,001-73,280)
    X (73,281-77,000)
    Z (77,001-80,000)

    9-64-170 of the Chicago Municipal Code defines a qualifying vehicle as a pickup truck or van weighing under 4,500 pounds, with no outstanding parking violations, and is displaying a valid and current Vehicle Sticker. And as such the vehicle Must display a Residential Pickup Truck and Van Permit to be able to Park in a Residential Neighborhood in the following wards:
    1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th, 37th, 40th, 42nd, 43rd, 44th, 46th, 47th, 49th, and 50th ward.

    If your ward of Residence is not listed above, you can not Legally Park a Pickup/Van or Truck Plated Vehicle on ANY Residential Neighborhood Street At Any Time even if you have the Permit.
    And D plate Class Trucks or Higher Truck plate Classes are not allowed to Park on Any Street at all City Wide.

    They must be in a Loading Zone or on a Metered Space with a Paid Receipt displayed. Fine for Commercial Truck plates is 125.00. Fine for B plates or Pickups is 25.00.

  4. Sound Wave says:

    Awesome story.

  5. Barnet Fagel says:

    I wonder if the municipal code was written by people who know how truck weight ratings are actually measured. The code’s description of a truck’s weight is not precise. The code should describe the weight as the GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This means the actual dry weight of the truck plus the the load it is designed to carry. The B plate usually covers one-half and three-quarter ton trucks. Equally, ticket issuers should at least have a basic understanding how to properly identify the weight rating of a truck if they are going to issue such citations.
    Could be another example of sloppy ticket writing for profit without consequences for for errors

  6. Kelly says:

    Hurrah! Congratulations on all three victories — it was very kind of you to help the gentleman with the booted truck.

    I wonder why the hearing officer didn’t get a translator on the phone the first time — I’m sure they have Spanish translators available.

  7. jj says:

    A related question…

    My brother delivers campers with a pickup (dodge 2500). he has private (non-commerical, non-truck) plates (Pennsylvania) and uses a ~20′ trailer w/ private plates. (All of this is legal by DOT and PA rules.)

    If he wants to stop here after unloading and has nothing on the trailer, can he park on city streets overnight? Does it very by ward?

    (when he has a load, he has commercial placards on the truck, but can remove them when he’s no longer on a job.)

    from edmunds:
    Curb weight: 5769 lbs.
    Gross weight: 8800 lbs.
    Maximum payload: 3030 lbs.
    Maximum towing capacity: 15200 lbs.

  8. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    On the booting issue, here’s what I think is going on.

    When we looked up the vehicle weight of the pickup truck online–two different weights showed up.

    One was the weight of the pickup without a payload (forget the term they used) and the other was the weight of the vehicle with maximum payload.

    Interestingly, the weight of the truck with max payload was OVER 4,500 lbs.

    My point is, it seems likely the booter was using the wrong weight to determine the pickup was bootable.

    Now THAT’s screwed up.

  9. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I do not want to gloss over your question, but the Chicago municipal code on trucks, pickups, semis, RV’s etc., is MAJORLY f@#ked up.

    It’s a labrinyth of contradictions. Seriously crazy.

    What I would do is take a trip your alderman’s office and talk to someone who knows about the rules in your ward.

    Don’t talk to the receptionist. Talk to someone who really knows the rules.

    Explain the situation. Perhaps they can guide you to a street where it’s legal to park your brother’s vehicle overnight or perhaps a cheap public lot or they may be able to hook you up with a truck sticker of some sort.

    Most ward offices are really helpful. Make sure you write down the person’s name and title so, if something goes awry, you can go back to their office and hold them accountable. For example, if the vehicle is ticketed as a result of their bad advice, the office can write a letter to help you fight the ticket.

    Good luck.

  10. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    The ticket was for parking in an RPP zone.

    I was picking up a pizza, couldn’t find metered parking that particular evening but found a space on the RPP zoned street adjacent to the pizza joint.

    I put on the flashers and ran in to pickup the pizza.

    I came back 10 minutes later with a ticket.

    But, luckily for me, the muni code allows a car to park in an RPP zone for up to 15 minutes in a 24 hour period as long as the vehicle’s emergency flashers are on.

    The restaurant receipt backed up the time frame in my testimony and the hearing officer had to dismiss.

    Interestingly, the ALO was not aware of this section of the code, didn’t believe me–even after reading it verbatim during the hearing–and had to double check the code themselves.

    You know it’s screwed up when a dimwit like me, knows the muni code better than the people adjudicating the parking tickets.

  11. Kelly says:

    Wow, that’s really good to know. There have been many times when I’ve just needed to run in somewhere for a few minutes, and I always thought I couldn’t park on RPP streets.

    If this isn’t a widely known rule, though, maybe it’s better to avoid it just because of the hassle of having to fight the tickets.

  12. its267 says:


    Couldn’t find a parking meter? Sounds like the City needs to raise the meter rates to drive down utilization…

  13. DoR Employee says:

    Geek and Kelly…

    Its True.


    Its 15 minutes grace time with Flashers………1 time per day.

    So you can actually be ticketed Legally with your flashers on….you then have to Prove you were Never in another Active RPP zone that day.

  14. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Totally with you its267,

    Why the heck do we have only 3 rates? Why is Lincoln Park the same as Albany Park? STUPID!

    Lower the rates in the less congested areas and raise the rates in the more congested ones.

    What’s the rent in Lincoln Park for a 2-bedroom apartment versus a 2-bedroom in Albany Park? Are they the same?

    Why are parking meter rates not tied to congestion aka supply and demand?

  15. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Actually, the muni-code is not perfectly clear.

    I would interpret the rule as 15 minutes in that particular RPP zone every 24 hours–not restricted to once a 24 hour period in all RPP zones.

    Here’s why.

    What if you need to visit places or people in different parts of the city–all within RPP zones?

    It is my belief the 15 minutes was actually created to give a visitor the time to park their car, run up to the home or apt. they were visiting to secure a guest pass.

    I vote for the more liberal interpretation of the law.

  16. DoR Employee says:


    While I agree with you….keep in mind the singular point of view that the ALO’s have.

  17. Rinzler says:

    Geek, the good news is, there is effective way for Revenue or anyone else to track to see if you were in a different zone. So take advantage of it while you can.

  18. OIFVet says:

    Rinzler, how can that tracking be accomplished? I don’t intend to break the law, just curious.

  19. Rinzler says:

    OIFVet, sorry typo. What I meant to say, is there is NO effective way to do the tracking. Could it be done, of course, effectively? no

  20. OIFVet says:

    That’s what I thought but you never know. Thank you for the clarification Rinzler.

  21. SS says:

    Not sure where to find if you’ve ever addressed this:

    I received ticket in the mail the day before the Sunday it was due, even though the notice date was 13 days before and of course there’s no post mark on the envelope (that would be evidence that could be used against the city). I didn’t even open mail until late the next day, Sunday, which was the due date.

    I owe the ticket, but not the doubled fine.

  22. SS says:

    This was just this past weekend.

  23. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I just sent you an email. I would like to talk to you about this.

    If you like, send me your phone number to my email address



  24. DoR Employee says:

    Mike…I want Info on this as well if you and SS don’t mind.

  25. DoR Employee says:

    This shit pisses me off.

    Air Mailed Tickets from CPD or less than scrupulous Ser Co writers….and the Fucked up Chicago Postal service that takes 2 times longer to deliver in city mail than it should.

  26. Art Vandelay says:

    Not only should the city save money on wages and benefits for these ticket-writing morons with the investigative skills of a refrigerator magnet, but they should also do away with paying idiots like Mike Connelly to sit as a Kangaroo Court judge in OUR courts.

    This moron was a jerk from the start when I went in to fight tickets and my car being towed. I was the only other person in the room and he was the “judge.” We made eye contact and I said “hello.” He said nothing and stared at me, so I stared back.

    Two tickets for me, were sent to the WRONG ADDRESS and had my name SPELLED INCORRECTLY. He would hear none of it and told me I needed to provide the registration for my vehicle for him to consider having the tickets dismissed. I said “well, that would be possible, had the city not towed my car – six hours early from the 24 hours it had listed on the ticket.”

    I showed him the tickets, which a neighbor eventually gave me after I met them for the first time. The tickets showed an incorrect address and name spelling. I then provided my license with my name and address correct.

    He would have none of it. “Nothing but the registration for this vehicle will change my mind.” So I said: “then the tickets for a Jim Smith at 3000 N. Ashland St., could be sent to Frank Jones at 3000 S. Calumet and there is no recourse for that person to fight the tickets, despite not receiving any notice they were issued, including a ticket on the window? AND the city does not have to abide by the laws and guidelines LISTED ON THEIR OWN TICKETS AND NOTICES?”

    He didn’t even have the decency to respond, he said “the court finds you are responsible for these charges.” I responded with saying “here’s a shocker!” He asked me to repeat myself and I gave him the same behavior he gave me from the start – I stared at him and ignored his question.

    He replied “I give the same respect I’m given.” I replied – “including ignoring the statements of someone in your court, the evidence provided and even the greeting of another person in-which you are legally obligated to listen to?”

    He threw a five-year-old’s temper tantrum and REFUSED TO GIVE ME BACK MY EVIDENCE! I had to contact court supervisors, after calling the police to report a theft, to have my items mailed back to me. Idiots like this don’t belong anywhere in city processes or receiving any tax funds to represent himself as a city official, if even for a day.

    Douches like this are among the reasons why almost nobody has faith in the Chicago justice system and angry over their tax dollars going to asses like this, just to be treated like the convicted murderer of his children.

    Mikey, your an ass and preferably yours gets infected.

  27. DoR Employee says:

    Art….Contact Target Team 5 and also Call Dept of Revenue @ 744 PARK to file a Complaint.

    There is no reason that should have happened.

  28. Pete says:

    Sounds like SOP for the Crook County administrative kangaroo “courts”.

  29. Art Vandelay says:

    Thanks for the info. I’d like to find if there is any oversight, other than the fellow cronies of these idiots, who step-in when the outlandish happens. From living here for over 3.5 years, I tell people in other states to stay the hell away from this dump. Their practices and attitude equate to saying “if you aren’t rich enough to pay for a garage, private parking or live in a high-rise, we will scrutinize everything you do and scold you for you daring to question our authority.” And people who HATE the public should not be paid, and paid well, to pass judgement on those people, who at-large they are taking an oath to serve.”

  30. DoR Employee says:

    This used to be a good city.

    Decades of Clout driven Nepotism and “jobs for Political Work” and Outright Shackman type violations of Ethical Hiring in EVERY department, plus Alderpersons that are crooks (Corruthers and Burke) or owe the Mob (Burke and Daley) or pander to special Interests one day and tell them to sod off the next (Tunney and Foretti) are the Problem.

    Honest city employees that got Lucky to get their Jobs without owing a favor are actually on the Rise…but we are in the Minority.

    Walk into any Aldermans office where they have held that position for more than 2 years and you will be able to tell.

    Police Exempts that shouldn’t be given a job at Dairy Queen, but are in charge of thousands of Police Officers. Department Assistant this and Deputy Director of the other that only got their job because they Laid on their Back or got on their Knees or was someone relative.

    Oh…I could go on for Hours.

  31. Lynn Stevens says:

    SS – This same thing happened to me!

    Art – I feel for you. I’ve had my share of Administrative Hearing and even appeals experiences, which, by a slim margin, have been mostly good, but when they’re bad, they’re bad!

  32. panda panda says:

    Parking Ticket Geek,

    I have about $10,000 in tickets. Parking tickets.
    I have had 3 cars taken by the city. Have had my wages garnished and payed 6,000 in cash for tickets only to be booted again 3 months later for a parking ticket my boyfriend forgot to tell me about. Now for some reason it is now up again to $9,000 some odd dollars. I am fed up.I have not driven for 2 years now. My license in Ilinois is suspended but thank God I have a valid one from another state. I dont want to call the tv debtstoppers and file bankruptucy. Will an attorney be able to help?

    Thanks for reading.

  33. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Hey Panda,

    Wow. $10,000 is a lot of parking tickets.

    I would consider speaking with an attorney, but it is my understanding that you cannot ever get rid of debt owed to a government entity. If you owed money on a house to a bank, bankruptcy could make that go away. But I don’t think this applies to parking tickets.

    Check into it though.

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