Category Archives: Ask The Geek

Cops Accused Of Bogus Tickets Push Back At Hearing

We didn’t do it.

Someone else wrote those parking tickets.

That’s what two Chicago police officers, accused of writing some of the 24 bogus parking tickets issued to motorist Mark Geinosky, contended in their police board hearings earlier this week.

In other words, according to the Chicago Tribune, the two officers became victims of the same scam that targeted Geinosky when another officer or officers stole a handful of tickets from their ticket books to harass Geinosky.

Professor Geek Joins Teach-A-Thon Tonight

Vocalo's Luis Perez

Vocalo's Luis Perez

The fine folks at Vocalo.org, WBEZ’s rebellious little brother, is hosting Teach-A-Thon Friday and for some reason has invited that nitwit the Parking Ticket Geek to give some tips on beating parking tickets.

Teach-A-Thon will take place at their Cameo Studio, on the ground floor of Chicago Public Radio’s HQ at Navy Pier located at 848 E. Grand Ave.

I’m told lot’s of smart, accomplished experts will give short but informative lessons or demonstrations on a myriad of subjects from 3 PM to 8 PM.

However, the Geek will be spewing his idiotic ravings about 5:30 PM, but will be on the air with host Luis Perez a few minutes before that to discuss the parking news of the day.

can be heard over the air at 89.5 FM or streamed live from the Vocalo website.

Listen To The Geek & Garry Podcast

The Geek had the distinct honor of joining Chicago radio legend Garry Meier on WGN Radio 720 on Monday afternoon.

If you missed it, here’s the Geek & Garry podcast.

I was kind of nervous, as I’ve been a fan of Meier since I was a wee Geek.

Luckily, I didn’t totally suck.

Thanks again to Garry for allowing a nutbag like the Parking Ticket Geek on his airwaves and allow me to pimp the new ChicagoNow website.

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek 4/6/09


Good Afternoon Geek:

April is here, and the street cleaning signs have made their first appearance on my

Truth be told, I am glad to see them, since on either side of the street there is a thick layer of crushed organic goo (left over from this past autumn and brutal winter) that reaches almost as high as the curb itself. But I digress. . .

I have just noticed an interesting omission from the new and improved advisory
signs. While the “PHOTO ENFORCED” phrase is now clearly displayed, another
important phrase that had adorned signs in the past has mysteriously vanished. That phrase being: “THIS SIDE OF STREET ONLY.”

Yellow Wednesday

Street Cleaning Sign From 2008

Should this be cause for concern? Is it possible that this gives Streets & Sanitation immunity in issuing tickets to BOTH sides of the street on street cleaning days even though signs are only posed along one side? Curious to hear your opinion on this matter.


Aaron in Ravenswood

Hi Aaron-

I wouldn’t read too much into that omission. I don’t think it’s worth getting stressed out about.

The municipal code seems to indicate that the signs must be posted to specifically designate the “part of the street” that is to be cleaned.

Plus, it’s been common practice from time immemorial to only clean one side of the street at a time. Otherwise, it would be parking chaos. They have to allow SOME place to relocate your vehicle if you park on the street. Otherwise, there would be an uprising with blood on the streets.

Notice that there is usually one colored sign for one side of the street and another for the other side, indicating each side has a different cleaning day.

If somehow, you get a ticket for parking on the side that’s not marked, just photograph the lack of signs and use the street cleaning schedules as proof that you should not have been ticketed.

Very truly yours,

The Geek

P.S. While Streets & Sans employees CAN issue tickets, normally it’s cops or PEA’s who will actually write the street cleaning violations.

Hi Mr. Geek,

I parked in Wrigelyville Saturday afternoon on Clark in front of a Pay & Display box.

When I got to the box, it clearly said, “Machine Out of Order,” and kindly had the date and time visible in its display as well. My friend took a picture of it for me.

Sure enough, when we got back to the car, there was the bright orange ticket, and an array of them at the cars parked behind mine as well. It was my understanding that if the machine was out of order, like a meter, no tickets should be issued.

I saw another (not sure what the PC term is but sure it’s not Meter Maid) coming down the street and looking for the tickets. I went and asked her and explained to her how I thought this was supposed to work.

She told me that we should have gone to the box across the street and gotten the ticket there. We had looked across the street when we parked, and saw the “old” style meters, and they were all full.

She pointed across the street and down a block, and there was another box.

Really? How far am I supposed to travel to pay to park? I already sent in my contest request…but I’m nervous because she pointed out the other box. Thoughts?



It sounds like a bit of hogwash to me.

But I called the LAZ Parking help line to see what they had to say.

The lady on the phone gave me the same song and dance. She says you should go across and/or down the street to use another Pay & Display machine.

But, on the street, how are supposed to know this? It’s not posted on their precious machines? They don’t tell you where other machines are located. The LAZ lady readily admitted this to me. How do you know where these alleged other machines are? Are you supposed to strike off into the great unknown until you randomly, possibly, potentially stumble across one?

This is confusing as best.

It’s even more confusing as the municipal code has no instruction for dealing with this except to say if the meter or machine is broken, you don’t have to pay.

9-64-190  Parking meter zones – Regulations.

It shall be unlawful to park any vehicle in a designated parking meter zone or space without depositing United States currency of the denomination indicated on the meter …It is not a violation of this section to park a vehicle at a zone or space served by a meter that does not function properly, provided that the meter is inoperable or malfunctioning through no fault of the vehicle’s operator.

Look Marion. The machine was broken. You couldn’t pay the machine. You took a photo.

Call in the machine to LAZ at 877-242-7901. Tell them your story and report the machine as broken on the date in question. Also call 312-744-PARK and report it to the city.

Bring the photos in with you at the hearing and tell them you reported the machine broken to both LAZ and the city.

I can’t see how you can lose.

Making motorists bust ass to locate a working machine is not in the muni code and is patently unfair. LAZ needs to fix their damn machines and follow the law.

Very truly yours,

The Geek

I live in suburban Wheaton, IL and just got a ticket for being parked on the street over night.

Now I live in a private residence on a private street. The city doesn’t maintain our road. We actually just recently had it all re-paved. Is it legal for them to give me a ticket for parking on a private road. I thought cops had to be called to even travel down the road. We even have a sign at both entrances that says, “Private Property.”

Thank You



We normally only handle Chicago parking tickets here. In addition, I’m not familiar with parking laws in Wheaton, nor am I an attorney.

The main thing I remember about Wheaton that is, up until fairly recently, you couldn’t purchase alcohol in Wheaton. I think Wheaton College, a Christian institution, had some influence on that previous policy.

But your question is strangely compelling to a parking ticket obsessed savant/nitwit like myself.

It seems to me this would be the same as ticketing someone in a private parking lot, in your garage or on your driveway. In most cases, you cannot be ticketed on private property.

I would think your bylaws of your subdivision or condo association would dictate how and when you can park on this private controlled property.

I would just bring proof from your subdivision establishing the road as private AND bring photos of the signs specifying this as well.

I gotta think this should be dismissed on these grounds.

Keep us posted.

The Geek

Dear Geek,

Hey man, I really appreciate what you’re doing with your site. Keep it up!

I recently received a parking ticket for having a CLEAR plastic cover over my
rear license plate. The issuing officer cited “9-76-160d” so I looked up the
City Municipal Code and found the following:

9-76-160(d) Every registration plate shall at all times be securely fastened in a horizontal position…shall be maintained free from foreign materials and in a condition to be clearly legible. No registration plate shall be covered by any “tinted” or colored screen.

It seems clear to me that I was in no way violating this definition and WILL
be contesting this in person. Any thoughts or help would be greatly

Thanks again!


Hey Blink!

Good going. Your clear plate holder should not fall within the city’s legal definition. Clear or transparent is NOT tinted or colored.

Just make sure you read the law to the hearing officer.

And bring photos of your plate that show your plate is perfectly readable through the CLEAR plastic cover.

Great work. Tell us how this works out for you.


The Geek

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek 3/30/09


Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

I live in Lakeview and there are a couple of meters at the start of my block. Aproximately six, three on each side of the street. Normally the rates stop at 9 p.m. and free on Sundays.

Today I come home after the Shamrock Shuffle to find two tickets slipped under my wiper. I immediately ran upstairs, grabbed my camera, and started snapping.

After a few shots I noticed that the labels on my meter were gone as well as the meter behind me (the car directly behind also had 2 tickets).

Do I have a case to contest? Any help would be appreciated!

Keep up the great work and F**CK the city and LAZ!



Obviously, you know now, there is no such thing as free Sundays at parking meters anymore.

But, If there are no stickers telling you when you have to feed the meter, than how would you know when to feed them?

My guess is that the decals peeled off. We’ve had MANY reports of these stickers peeling off the meter heads. Not only are they about 1/4 inch too big for the indented portion of the
meter designed for decals AND, more importantly the adhesive on the decals sucks. The old rectangular yellow decals the city used couldn’t be peeled off unless someone used power tools. But these decals LAZ purchased, according to many e-mailers, come off with just an easy pull in some cases.

Photograph the meter AND the back of the meter head to show the meter number on that little metal plate.

But also, call LAZ at 877-242-8901 and report the missing decals so they have a record. I would call 312-744-PARK and report it to the city as well.

Make sure you mention that lack of stickers meets defense #3 of the city’s “seven accepted defenses” at your hearing or in your contest letter:

3-The relevant signs prohibiting or restricting parking were missing or obscured;

Good luck, keep us posted.

The Geek

Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

I received a ticket for “Park/Standing prohibited anytime” on a residential street. The parking area is a trapezoid shaped spot with 3 car spots. The front ~8ft and rear ~8ft has a sign that says “No Parking”. I received a ticket on Friday for parking over the line.

Is this disputable? Does it matter that only a small portion of my car was over?

Here is the pic:

It’s pretty ridiculous to have a portion of the parking area deemed as unparkable when it serves no other purpose.



Dear Don,

Yeah, I agree, by your photo and description, it does seem supremely ridiculous.

Unfortunately for yourself, you’re screwed. Four feet, one foot, one inch, it doesn’t matter–especially if they have photographic evidence. Your photo showing only a few feet,  still shows you in violation.

Yeah, this sucks. But it’s the law. Fight it anyways, you never know what might happen.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

The Parking Geek

Dear Geek,

I’m sure this has been asked, but after browsing your site for some time, I haven’t found an answer.

Do Chicago parking meters accept the golden dollar? I seem to remember seeing a picture of the dollar coin on some meters.

Do some take it and others don’t? I was thinking about getting some dollar coins from the bank instead of quarters.


Dear Rich,

Multiple calls to LAZ’s help line came leads me to believe all the meters have been changed to ONLY accept quarters–despite the fact some meters still say they accept the dollar coins.

“We were told that the meters only accept quarters,” one LAZ operator told me. “We have had calls from people complaining they deposited the dollar coin but didn’t get a dollar’s worth of time. So we encourage only using quarters.”

So, while I like your thinking, in my opinion, you could be spending $1 for only 25 cents worth of time. So don’t screw yourself. Stick with jamming your pockets full of quarters. Ultimately, the weight of the quarters will strengthen your legs, saving you money on working out at the gym membership that you can’t afford anymore.

Very truly yours,

The Geek

Dear Expired Meter,

I got a petty ticket while parked for having a plastic cover over my back license plate. $50.00!

Can I pay that ticket in person with pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters?

No wait, I need the quarters.

Any law prohibiting it that you know of?

Thanks for any comment, and nice work on your blog.



Dear Mike,

I quickly breezed through the municipal code and find no restriction for paying in whatever denomination of U.S. legal tender you would like to use. In fact, I don’t see how they can refuse any form of legal U.S. coin or currency.

Very creative thinking on your part. If your or others are so inclined, show your frustration by paying in pennies. Make them count it in front of you. I’m sure that will make the cashiers VERY happy to count 5000 pennies!

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek 3/23/09


Hello Geek,

I have a severe accumulation of parking tickets accounting for several thousand in total. Is there any way to negotiate a total settlement for an amount lower than what owe on the books?

I just realized I missed an amnesty a few weeks ago, is there any other such program I can take advantage of?



Dude, you are SOL.

As you know, the most recent parking ticket amnesty just recently ended on Valentine’s Day, (Mayor Daley’s way of showing how much he loves us).

Unfortunately, these opportunities to get break from the city don’t come very often. The last time before this most recent parking ticket amnesty was, I believe, six years ago when the booting threshold changed from five unpaid tickets to three.

Currently, there are no discounting or amnesty programs available and you’re not going to be able to wait 5-10 years for the next one.

However, you can work out a payment plan with the city. There are several payment plans available.

Go to the City of Chicago Department of Revenue website for more information, or stop by one of the DOR Payment Centers or call 312-744-PARK (7275).

I hope this works for you.

The alternative would be to move far, far away from Chicago.

Very truly yours,

The Geek

Dear Parking Geek All-Knowing Almighty,

I recently moved to Chicago and bought a city sticker and placed it underneath the corner of my windshield. The sticker was clearly visible, serial number and all, and I was planning on pasting it this weekend (need to remove my old sticker and just didn’t want to bother then).

I got a $120 ticket for “No or Improperly Displayed City Sticker.” Not pasting the sticker is a valid reason to get a ticket, I guess, since it means you could lend it to someone else.

But the other thing is, it hasn’t been 30 days since I moved into the city. This means I can get the ticket overturned on that grounds, regardless of whether my sticker was properly displayed or not, right?

Should I contest it by mail (send in a copy of my lease, and maybe also a copy of the letter from the Secretary of State confirming that I’d changed the address for my vehicle registration after moving in), or in person? Also, do the copies I send need to be notarized?


George B.


Damn! You nailed it on every count.

You’re making me so happy and proud, I’m getting emotional and starting to choke up. Sniff! Someone pass me a tissue.

The Geek gives you an A+ George!

Send in your contest letter, your lease, receipt from the Secy. of State. Excellent.

Since you’re within the 30 days you should be OK.

Mail or in-person, it shouldn’t matter. Your case is so tight, you should win either way.

Keep us posted.


P.S. I don’t think you need anything notarized, but it won’t hurt anything if you do.

Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

My wife and I parked and went about our way after I paid the quarter needed for the remaining half-hour that was needed to stay where we were. I had paid to park in the row from 8:33pm to 9:03pm. The meter is only in effect until 9pm. Naturally, I figured there was no problem, and there never has been.

I come back to my car around 10pm and there’s a ticket on the window, and the receipt from the parking box down the road was on the dashboard but turned over, face down so it could be read.  I am assuming my wife put it facing up, but with the wind or something before she closed the door, it blew over, and we didn’t think to check.

I come back, and I have a $50 ticket for “improper display of ticket.” however, I still have my receipt, and can show that I have obviously paid to be there during the time I was ticketed by SERCO.

Is there any chance of getting this ticket thrown out or would it even be worth it with court costs factored in? What ARE court costs?

Thank you for your time.



Dear Scrabbled,

I’m kind of old school and try to avoid those new fangled Pay & Display machines whenever I can.

The good thing about the receipts they generate is, they are time and date stamped. So you should be able to fight this one and win.

I would fight it in person, but you can also contest by mail and prevail as well.

Just testify that you purchased the proper time, and put the receipt on the dashboard. Make a copy of the receipt showing the date and time it was good for, and that, when compared to the time on the ticket, should immediately invalidate the ticket in the hearing officers eyes.

It’s hard to dispute this type of evidence.

Also, try to avoid discussing whether the receipt was face up or down. You don’t know for sure as it may have have been properly displayed and the SERCO ticket guy missed it. It may have flipped over when YOU opened the door coming back to your car. If it comes up, just be honest and say you thought it was properly displayed.

As far as court costs…there are none. It cost nothing, $0 to contest a ticket. Just your time and energy, which is valuable enough.

Fight this one and you should win. Keep us posted.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

Hello Parking Ticket Geek,

I got a ticket issued to me last Monday the 16th. The date on the ticket says 3/18/2008
which is obviously wrong. The ticket was for not having a city sticker. Since  I didn’t even own a car in 2008, can I fight this?….easily?



Dear Katy,

You just dodged a $120 bullet.

Mistakes like this don’t happen very often, so you definitely need to take advantage and fight this.

Make several copies of your ticket for your records then go in person to a DOR hearing center to request a hearing right away. You could fight this by mail, but in-person would be better in this case (at least in my opinion).

At  your hearing, make the case that you didn’t have a vehicle in 2008, and bring your current registration and the title, or receipt of purchase to prove you recently purchased the vehicle.

Explain that your ticket was issued with the wrong date and it should be thrown out. That’s because,  you will explain, this ticket doesn’t establish a “prima facie case.” Cite this municipal code below.

9-64-220  Parking violations – Enforcement – Prima facie responsibility designated.

(b)     Whenever any vehicle is parked in violation of any provision of the traffic code prohibiting or restricting vehicular parking or standing…The issuer of the notice shall specify on the notice his identification number, the particular parking regulation allegedly violated, the make and state registration number of the cited vehicle, and the place, date, time and nature of the alleged violation and shall certify the correctness of the specified information by signing his name as provided in Section 11-208.3 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.

You see, if the ticket has the wrong date, it’s an improperly written ticket–on it’s face.

Although, the time line the city will have on this ticket, will also prove the ticket was issued with the incorrect date as well.

In the meantime, between requesting your hearing and having your hearing, you need to get yourself a city sticker if your car is registered within city limits. It sucks to pony up the $75 (although there may be late fees depending on when you registered the vehicle), but that costs less than the ticket does. Do it right away.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek 3/16/09


Dear Mr. Geek,

I just noticed the other day that a line of meters I frequently park at, went from being the cheapest in the city (one quarter per hour, max 2 hours) suddenly up to a dollar an hour!

What’s up with this?

It still says zone 6, but there is a new label on the meter with the new price. WTF?

I’m not paying that much to park there! Is there anyway I can argue or protest the increase?

Tricia in Edgewater


What boulder have you been sleeping under the past six months?

The parking meter lease deal and increased rates is almost all we’ve talked about here since November. Plus, it’s been all over the newspapers, radio and television.

It’s definitely too late. Done deal. Sign, sealed, delivered. Game over.

Call your alderman if you like, but fat lot of good that will do.

Here’s the lowdown on the parking meter lease deal. Check it out.


“Mr.” Geek

Hi Parking Ticket Geek-

A friend of mine received a parking ticket for having his car parked in a handicap parking spot on a residential street.

The problem is , the front end of his car was a few inches passed the parking pole. The owner of the handicap spot was still able to park their car in the space without any difficulties.

Is there a way he can appeal this ticket without having any proof to show how the car was actually parked?


A Friend of a Friend

Dear Friend of a Friend,

Oooh. A tough one. It sounds like some ticket writer had a bug up their butt on this one.

Technically, you were in violation, but to be ticketed for a few inches past the sign post…seems a bit over the top–especially since the correct car was not prevented from parking in their spot.

If you know the owner of the handicapped spot, you should ask them to write you a note on your friend’s behalf. Ask them to attest to the fact that their car was not in their handicapped spot and, their car, the one with the handicapped permit, was parked in the spot at the time.

If you can, have them get it notarized at a Currency Exchange so the letter can be considered sworn testimony. Your testimony can be admitted as well. Write something up backing up your friend’s story and have it notarized.

VERY IMPORTANT!: Don’t admit the car was even a few inches into the handicapped spot. This is an admission of guilt. Just say the bumper of the car was right up to the sign post–not beyond.

Hopefully this will do the trick.


The Parking Ticket Geek

Dear Geek,

From that company SERCO that hires people to just give out tickets without looking to even see if this is zoned parking. I got the ticket in on the west side of the street on 1452 Mohawk, and I know that there are no signs and I know north of Blackhawk on the 1300 block of Mohawk is zoned but not south of Blackhawk on Mohawk.

I called the alderman and they said yes that I was right but wouldn’t help me at all in fighting this ticket, and I’ve had no good luck when sending in by mail to contest a ticket, can you help.



Hi Phil-

This is a good one. I get an average of one complaint about SERCO per week. They don’t seem to be that well trained.

But, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

First, contact the alderman’s office again and see, no, insist that someone from their office, write a letter on your behalf supporting your contention that the address in question is not zoned for residential parking.

In addition, residential zoned parking is a matter of record and is written into the municipal code.  Ask the alderman’s office for a copy of all residential parking zones, including addresses and maps if possible,of these zones.

Be polite but persistewnt. The alderman’s office is thereto help you, the constituent. If they don’t help, tell me and I’ll get on the phone with them.

Second, I would make a Freedom of Information Act request via e-mail tothe Chicago Dept. of Transportation’s (CDOT) Freedom of Information division asking them if a sign or signs for residential permit parking exists at the address in question.

The e-mail address is: cdotfoia@cityofchicago.org

Third, I would take photos of the block in question, demonstrating it’s not zoned for residential permit parking.

I would not fight this by mail. I would request an in-person hearing. Ithink your chances are better doing it this way.

Let me tell you.

If you walk into your hearing with a letter from the alderman, proof fromthe Chicago Dept. of Transportation, copies of the municipal code defining residential permit parking in that ward and photos, you cannot possibly lose.

Good luck, keep us posted.

The Geek

Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

I am one of many Chicago residents to receive a ticket for parking too close to a stop sign. My situation is a little different from most of the others. I was parked on the opposite side of the street from the sign.

The photos document this.

I checked with the Deputy Director of the Department of Revenue and he says the law only restricts parking too close on the same side of the street as the sign. I have requested a in-person hearing to contest the ticket.

What a waste of time. The parking enforcement officers need better training. Maybe the city is just trying to increase revenue.




Good work investigating your violation.

You are absolutely correct. You cannot be ticketed for being on the side of the street opposite of where the stop sign is posted. It’s perfectly legal to park there. Here’s the municipal code:

9-64-100  Parking prohibited

It shall be unlawful to park any vehicle in any of the following places:

(g)     Within 30 feet of an official traffic signal or stop sign on the approaching side;

You should be angry that the people who are hired to enforce the parking laws, actually don’t understand the laws they are allegedly trained to uphold and enforce.

Anytime a dimwit like me or a intelligent layperson, untrained in the minutiae  of parking laws, understand the laws than the enforcement person, you know things are screwed up.

I’m just glad you’re fighting back. Just keep us posted.

Thanks Richard.

The Geek

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek 3/9/09


Dear Geek,

What’s the worst that can happen if you just never pay a parking ticket? My ticket has apparently been given to some law office for collection (or something). Is this a scare tactic or does it really mean something serious?



Well Chance,

You could wind up in a state penitentiary with the new occupation of “parking ticket bitch” for  some hairy, tattooed dude.

Just kidding.

If it’s only a single ticket, I don’t think much can happen.

For a single ticket, I would be surprised if the tickets were reported to a credit agency and if they did, it’s such a minor thing (at least compared to a bankruptcy or foreclosure), I don’t see how it could effect your credit score.

But if you have two or more unpaid ticket in collection, it means your car is boot eligible.

So, if you don’t want to pay, just make sure you don’t get any new tickets and/or fight any new tickets you receive and make sure you pay off the ones you don’t win. Once the second ticket goes into Final Determination (and is older than one year), you are flirting with getting booted.

Keep your nose clean.

Don’t get booted and become Chicago’s “boot bitch”.

Very truly yours,

The Geek

Hi Parking Ticket Geek,

I have a parking ticket question for you. I was parked on the street close to my apartment building when there were piles of snow on the sides of the streets.

Needless to say, because of the snow, everyone was unable to park their cars all the way to the curb. Apparently the city was fine with this until the one day when it was 45 degree weather in Chicago and a lot of the snow melted, revealing that cars were actually parked at least partially in or on the bike lane.

I left that morning before the snow melted and got back at night and had a parking ticket on my car for parking in the bike lane. So did half of the cars on the block who didn’t yet move closer to the curb. I am wondering is there any way to contest this ticket?

Thank you for your time,


Hi Silvia-

I just got a ticket for the same violation, just a few days ago.

I’ve never come across this violation until now. My guess is that a memo went out to all the PEA’s to start looking out for this violation to write tickets on.

I would suggest just relating your story as you’ve told it to me.

You couldn’t tell you were parked on the bike lane because snow was obscuring the pavement markings. Since there are no signs, the pavement markings are what indicate where the bike lane is. If the bike lane markings are covered by snow, how do you know if you are on the bike lane?

Why should you be held responsible because of the weather and/or the fact that Streets & Sanitation are not doing their job as well as they should?

This argument meets defense #3 of the city’s seven acceptable defenses for a parking ticket. “The relevant signs prohibiting or restricting parking were missing or obscured;”

In addition, why weren’t you cited for parking too far from the curb if you were allegedly parked in the bike lane?

Finally, bring up the fact that many people on your block were ticketed for the same infraction. The hearing officer can look this up and see this was the case. This supports your contention that snow covered the markings on the street until the thaw.

That’s how I’m going to fight my ticket. Get back to me so we can compare notes.

Thanks and good luck,

The Parking Ticket Geek

Hi Geek,

My buddy from Oregon stays here on occasion with friends.

While he was in town coming to pick me up he was pulled over. No reason given. But cop kept asking him odd questions about what he’s doing with out of state plates (Oregon).

Cop gives him a $120 ticket for having no city sticker.

His driver’s license, insurance, plates, permanent residence, etc etc are all Oregon too.

Contesting this should be an easy win right? Any recommendations?

Thank you.

Friend of “Outraged from Oregon”

Dear Outraged from Oregon and Friend-

Dude. It sounds like your friend was guilty of being pulled over with out of state plates by a cop who was obviously suffering a case of asshole-itis. It’s a disease that only affects police officers and manifests symptoms of belligerence, anger, rudeness and lowered brain function.

All your friend has to do is send in a contest letter, from his home address in Oregon, with a copy of his registration. Here is the applicable municipal code:

3-56-020  License required.

It shall be unlawful for any motor vehicle owner residing within the city to use,…any motor vehicle or any other vehicle upon the public ways of the city…unless such vehicle is licensed as provided in this chapter.

You can’t be ticketed for not having a Chicago city sticker, if the vehicle owner resides in another state and the car is registered outside of Chicago.

Your buddy from two time zones away obviously doesn’t need a Chicago city sticker.

Listen, most cops are good people trying to protect the rest of us. Thank God they’re out there. The Expired Meter supports the great men and women of Chicago’s police department. However, a few are jerks with something to prove. Perhaps it’s a penis size issue or their daddy yelled at them when they were growing up. Who knows.

Fight the ticket and it should be a slam dunk.

The Geek

Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

Often I will pump five or six quarters into a meter but only two or three will register?

If I have put in enough coins, but then run out because they coins did not register, do I have any recourse to contest the ticket?

Please just sign me:

Ripped Off

Dear Ripped Off,

That sucks when the damn meter eats your quarters without paying out the proper time.

You can contest the ticket by making the claim that you fed the meter the quarters and it didn’t register time correctly.

I suggest immediately going to the new parking meter website,  and filling out their feedback form reporting this meter problem.

Also, report this meter to the city at 312-744-PARK. Follow the prompts to record the meter number and the problem with the meter.

The hearing officer should then be able to look up your documentation of the meter being broken and not registering your money.

Good luck.


Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek 3/2/09


Dear PTG;

I would like to know who will receive the revenue from parking tickets, the City or the new owners of the meters?

How bad is this deal?




The city still gets the revenue from the tickets. The new meter lessee gets the quarters.

It’s a bad deal. Read about how bad this parking meter lease deal really is.

Very truly yours,


Dear Geek,

My street dead ends into another and there is a stop sign at that intersection. Both streets are one-way, mine being heading away from the intersection.

I got a ticket for parking near the stop sign on the other street (they took photos and everything). This street is continuous at this intersection and I didn’t know this was illegal because there are always cars parked at/near this stop sign. Maybe they are all getting tickets too, I don’t know.

Is there anything I can do? How far away from the stop sign am I supposed to be?

(Parking enforcement photo attached for clarity)


Fruss Trated

Dear Fruss Trated,

Dude! They have you by the balls here. If that’s your car in the photo, they have you dead to rights.

I don’t want to sound like a dick, but you’re not supposed to park within 30″ feet of the stop sign. If you were at 25′, and there was a question how far exactly you were, I would say fight it.

But your car seems to be right next to the stop sign. That’s a Bozo No-No.

If other people are parking illegally should not encourage you to do so as well. It’s like enforcement Russian roulette. You never know when a cop or PEA will walk down the street to slap a ticket on a car parked like this.

Now this really hurts me to say this, (I’m almost doubled-over in pain) but I think you should just pay it and be done with it.

Very truly yours,

The Geek

Hi Parking Geek,

On Sunday Feb 17th 2009, I went to ER (Rush Hospital) because my 6 year Old Son needed medical help.

I parked my car at 1820 W Congress PW, which is right across the ER. The meters there are 24 by seven. I put 4 quarters which gave me One hour at 6:59 I got an Expired Meter Ticket at 7:41. It was Pitch dark there.

The address on the parking Ticket is 1900 but I was parked on 1801 ( One Block Away ).

How can I contest this ticket?




First off, I hope your son is OK now.

Of course, nothing will grind salt into the wound of an emergency visit to the hospital like a bright orange parking ticket–especially an improperly written one. Here’s what you can do.

You’re going to explain exactly what you wrote here. You put in four quarters at the time you parked and that a ticket at 7:41is impossible because you paid for a full hour on the meter.

But, the address issue is probably your saving grace here.

You’ll need to send a FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act) to the Dept. of Revenue to get the exact location of the meter number on your ticket.

According to Ed Walsh from the Dept. of Revenue, “FOIA’s should be submitted in writing with an address and contact phone number.  They should be signed, and as specific as possible.  They can be mailed or faxed:”

Ed Walsh
Chicago Department of Revenue
121 N. LaSalle St.
Room 107
Chicago, IL 60602

Fax: 312.744.4023

You can also call 312-744-PARK, talk to an operator, give them the meter number and they can tell you the street address of that meter as well, but it makes a stronger case if you can have actual documentation from the city to bring to your hearing or mail with your contest letter.

From your note, the meter number is going to come up with the address where you parked, not a block away. The error in address should be enough to get this ticket dismissed.

Good luck with it and tell us how it works out.

Very truly yours,

Parking Geek

Hi Geek,

When parking at the one of the new pay box spaces (Pay & Display) on Clark, someone took the ticket off my bike, stuck in their window, and I got the ticket.

What are we supposed to do about this?? These pay boxes are going in everywhere!


Hi Amara,

I am not very well versed with motorcycle and scooter parking issues.

That’s why I’m going to defer to my friend Jon Heinman, who frequently rides and parks his two wheeled vehicles around the city.

Jon says that you need to pay attention to the instructions on the back of the Pay & Display receipt you get after you stick your money into the machine.

Here’s Jon’s advice:

“Here’s the deal. You’re suppose to write your plate number on the receipt, remove the backing and stick the receipt to your headlight.”

“Unless they used a credit card to pay for the receipt my guess is you are SOL. I would still try to fight it in person if cash was paid but it will be a hard sell since the receipt indicates what to do for motorcycles/scooters.”

For future reference, the Department of Revenue has published a brochure for scooter and motorcyle owners. Here is their instructions:

When parking in a space governed by a pay and display machine, the motorist must deposit the appropriate money. The machine will issue a receipt to the motorist. The receipt must be displayed on the motorcycle as follows:

• The license plate of the motorcycle or scooter must be written on the receipt. This deters others from stealing or using the receipt. Further, it is unlawful for any vehicle to display a receipt bearing another’s license plate number. Violators may be fined.

• Follow the directions on the receipt. The receipt has an adhesive backing. This backing should be removed and used to post the receipt to the head lamp of the motorcycle or scooter.

• Make sure to apply the adhesive and the receipt to a dry and clean surface. To ensure proper display and to avoid a ticket, please be certain to wipe the headlamp off prior to posting if it is dirty or wet.

I hope that helps Amara. Good luck and keep us posted.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek 2/23/09


Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

I am a disabled vet with handicap plates.

Before new parking meter change, I could park at Chicago meters for free. Can I still do this?

Thank you,

Confused in Canaryville

Dear Confused,

First, thank you for your service to our country. My hat is off to anyone in America’s armed services. God Bless you and people like you that have, and continue to, keep our country safe through service to our country.

But don’t worry. Even though the new parking meter lease deal means drastic meter rate increases, there is no change to the law and your ability to park for free at Chicago parking meters with your handicapped license plates.

The least Chicago can do is allow the a disabled veteran park for free, even if the city sold off their parking meters.  So, don’t sweat it and continue to enjoy your free handicapped parking.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek


I got a ticket for “expired meter or overstay.”

I was parked at a meter which I didn’t pay, because the sign said “2 hour parking 9AM-9PM Monday through Saturday.” I assume that means free parking all other times, including on Sunday when I parked there–unless it means no parking at all other times.

Anyway, I got a ticket, and contested it by mail, explaining what I just described. I just got a response saying that the violation did occur and I need to pay up, but that I can appeal the order by filing a civil law suit.

If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. My main questions are:

1-Does that sign mean free parking all other times (ie, after 9PM, before 9AM, and all day Sundays)? and

2-Do I have a chance at winning this if I file a law suit, and what’s involved as far as expense and time?



Dear Jim,

I shouldn’t be shocked anymore when I hear about hearing officers for the city being so dense, that they can’t understand even the most simple of municipal law.

You are absolutely correct. If the meter said it needs to be fed from 9 AM to 9 PM and you park there at 10 PM, you cannot be ticketed. If you do, it’s an improperly written ticket and it should be dismissed.

The same goes for Sunday. Up until just a few days ago, because of the new parking meter lease deal, only a handful of meters had to be fed on Sundays. If the meter said it only had to be fed Monday through Saturday, and your ticket was issued on a Sunday…even a 4th grader would understand you shouldn’t be ticketed.

I think you should definitely appeal. It is costly to appeal, (I think it’s up to $120 now) and it takes a long time before anything happens. Last time I appealed, it took three to five months to finally play out. But I have won every appeal I’ve made. If you are confident in your case, I say go for it.

If you win your appeal, your filing fee will be refunded.

Thanks and good luck.

The Parking Ticket Geek


I parked in front of a broken parking meter on North Clybourn. There was a 2-hour parking limit at the meter, and I stayed only about one hour, but I received a ticket anyway.

My wife was with me and will accompany me to the in-person hearing I requested for the ticket, and both of us will say that the meter was broken and that we parked at it for less than 2 hours.

Is there anything else that I need to help me avoid being found guilty? I e-mailed Chicago Dept. of Transportation asking for repair records for the meter, but they referred me to the Department of Revenue and I hung up after waiting for about a half-hour to talk to someone.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for my  hearing.



Sir? Sir?!!

What the hell are you talking about? I’m just a doofus with a website. I won’t put up with any of this “Sir” stuff anymore. Cut it out!

But more seriously Paul, you are definitely on the right track. I’m impressed with how your current plan of attack.

Here’s what I would do if my meter was broken and I got a ticket.

First, go back and photograph the broken meter. Snap a photo of the front and back of the meter head showing it saying “FAIL” or without any readout or whatever it says to indicate it’s not working.

Also photograph the little metal plate with the parking meter’s unique number to establish that this is the meter listed on the ticket.

Second, call 312-744-PARK. Follow the robot operator prompts where you can report the meter broken. Do this a few times over the next few days to make sure it takes.

Third, write a letter to the Dept. of Revenue explaining that the meter is broken and they need to fix it. Make sure you list the meter number and approximate address. I would do this right away.

Use this letter as evidence to back up your testimony at your hearing. Also tell the hearing officer that you reported the meter to the city’s Parking Ticket Help Line.

The hearing officer should be able to look up the repair record on the meter during your hearing. Ask him or her to do so.

The calls you made should be on the meter repair record and so should a notation about your letter.

With all this overwhelming evidence and the testimony of your wife, you should hit this one right out of the park.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Very truly yours,


Hi Parking Ticket Geek,

I was borrowing my sisters car one day, and rolled a little, like only 17mph. Put my signal out, and made a right turn, where I could legally make one. The camera flashed because I did not come to a complete dead stop.

Can I fight this??? Or can I at least get half off? The rolling part was so minor…

Let me know, otherwise I am out 100 bucks



Sorry Chris. I only have bad news for you today.

The evil robotic red light camera does not care if you were rolling 17 MPH through the right turn or 1 MPH. Unless you come to complete stop before turning right on red at a red light camera intersection, you will get a ticket.

There is no discounting of a red light ticket for even a “minor” rolling through the right turn. Plus, do you think with the massive budget deficit the city is facing that Mayor Daley is going to work a deal with you?

Give his office a call if you want (312-744-3300) and see if you can work something out with him. I think the Mayor will say, “No f@#king way!”

Sorry Chris. I think your wallet is $100 lighter.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek with your query at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com