Ask The Parking Ticket Geek

Billy stands next to the parking meter pay box on Damen Avenue in Wicker Park where he was paying to park while his car was getting ticketed.

Billy stands next to the parking meter pay box on Damen Avenue in Wicker Park where he was paying to park while his car was getting ticketed.

Mr. Parking Meter guy,

This morning I parked my car at Damen off North Avenue to get a cup of coffee before heading to work.

I parked my car and walked almost a block to the parking meter box to see two people ahead of me paying to park. I patiently waited in the frigid cold for about two minutes before my turn came up to pay. I put in 25 cents to pay for 10 minutes, got my receipt, walked to my car and BOOM: orange ticket on my car!

The parking ticket was issued at 9:31 a.m. but my parking meter receipt says 9:33.

Is this legal? how can they get away with this?


Read more at DNA Info.

12 Responses to Ask The Parking Ticket Geek

  1. DoR Employee says:


    The Policy is to Look at the Pay Box and try to tell if there is anyone at it paying to park.

    Finance PEA’s will even go so far as to attempt to get the attention of the people at the pay box to see if the vehicle the pea is at is one of theirs before issuing the meter ticket.


    There are areas of this city that have a higher than normal scofflaw issue with people not paying the meters.

    A lot of ” Oh I was inside getting change” when they run out with their shopping bags or the Haircut Apron around their neck. Good example would be the meters in 011/015 on Madison.

    Or any meter around Halsted/Broadway/Grace in 019….”Oh…I was dropping my entitled child off to the Anshe Emet School, why would I have to pay the meter or watch for the Street Cleaning Signs (7am-9am)?”

  2. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    The way Billy described it was he parked, did not initially see the paybox on the side he parked so crossed the street to pay for parking at another box where other drivers were standing.

    I’m guessing the ticket writer did not see anyone at the paybox on the side he parked and then wrote the ticket under the assumption a driver would have paid for parking at the closest pay box–and not across the street.

  3. Jeff says:


    This seems to a long-established pattern and practice by Chicago PEAs, to ticket motorists even as they are in the process of paying tickets (or encountering meter box malfunctions):

    This is consistent with Rahm Emanuel’s attitude of “steal as much as you can get away with.”

  4. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I think these are the exception and not the rule. I see a lot of ticket writers in my travels around the city and my office is on a metered street.

    From my experience, I see the PEAs, CPM, SERCO, all checking the box to the point of even walking over to the pay box or doing a visual sweep of the area. In some cases when PEAs pop up on a block with people paying for parking, I see interactions between ticket writers and drivers that indicate to me that MOST are trying to do the right thing.

  5. Jeff says:


    I would like to think this is a rogue element of ticket writers. But when the same kind of “gotcha” story keeps happening over and over again (this same kind of story has been featured repeatedly on, it begs the questions of:

    (1) why training hasn’t been given to address this issue; and/or

    (2) whether that training is not effective.

    In any event, these instances of bad behavior breed the kind of contempt for the law that eats away at the fabric of civil society.

  6. DoR Employee says:


    The “Rogues” you speak of are most likely the Ser Co ticket writers…

    They alone have a quota.

    The Comptroller or First Deputy or Dep Director of Street Op’s can not make PEA’s write meter tickets. Why do you ask?

    We have no way to test the Box to ensure it is working properly by making it print a test receipt. And I’m not wasting a quarter of my Own just to test a machine.

    CPM/LAZ have that ability. And CPM paid Ser Co to be out on Christmas doing meter enforcement as proof of concept of how hungry the concessionaire is for revenue.

  7. Jeff says:


    Ticket enforcement on Christmas Day. Do you need anything else to tell you what a shitbag of a deal this is??

  8. Howard says:

    Hey Geek,
    Parked at 666 W. Diversey outside Kuma’s Too. Definitely seemed like a legit spot. Plus I have a handicap placard that was hanging. I got a ticket stating it was a standing/parking prohibited anytime. shows 4 spots exactly at 666 W. Diversey. Not entirely sure how to obtain proof that I wasn’t parked illegally whatsoever. I’d love to hear your thoughts/opinion. Thanks!


  9. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    It’s sounds fishy to me.

    It might be worth another trip down there to check out the signs. If there are no signs prohibiting parking where you were, take photos and contest this.

    Posted signs are what controls how you as a driver behaves. If there were no signs, than the ticket should be dismissed.

  10. DoR Employee says:


    I live over by Kuma’s on Diversey.

    The whole strech from Kuma’s west to Orchard is No Park/Stand Tow Zones With posted signs. Tow Zone sign posted on Light pole in front of Kumas and Akira.,-87.646327,3a,75y,52.04h,70.6t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1smo2ZBNBgNsY_Gi_NJfCYGA!2e0

    Once you Parked West of the Pay at Box to park sign pole you entered a CDOT Tow Zone indicated by a double sided sign posted to the Light Pole with the Lake View East Flag on it. is wrong.

  11. DoR Employee says:

    Hehe…should have said “Lived”

    Used to live in the 44th Ward a few years ago. That whole side has never been open legal parking since 2005.

  12. Robin Lauriault says:

    I just posted about a L.A. parking ticket I received via email here in Florida. I found the L.A. site for paying tickets, submitted the ticket number from the email and it came up “no such ticket number”, so I am now certain that there is a piggyback scam going on. I couldn’t find anything about it on the web (so much about the real Bureau), but it should become known. I think some people would fall for this (maybe people just a little bit dumber than me (lol)???

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