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Category Archives: Parking Ticket 101

Never Use A Gun To Fight A Parking Ticket

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Here’s some friendly advice from the Parking Ticket Geek.

Never, ever, bring a gun to fight a parking ticket.

According to Chicago Breaking News,  85 year old Peter J. Reilly, of Huntley, northwest of Chicago, was pissed about a $250 ticket he received.

It seems he was ticketed for illegally parking in a handicapped parking space. So he decided to bring a gun to “pursuade” the police to throw out his ticket.

He aimed the gun at a Huntley police sergeant behind bulletproof glass, refused multiple requests to drop the weapon, but was subdued.

Turns out it was a BB gun.

Released on $100 bond, Reilly has to return to court at the end of October.

What’s the lesson for today?

Let me repeat. NEVER bring a gun to fight a parking ticket.

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.

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

Parking Ticket 101: Move Your Car Weekly

I know a lot of you folks like to find that perfect parking spot in front of our apartment or home, and then leave your car there for days on end.

Perhaps you take public transportation to work and don’t need to drive during the week or you have another car you drive more often.

The problem is during the winter, it’s much easier for cops or PEAs or Streets & Sanitation workers, or nosy neighbors whom make it a hobby of complaining to their alderman’s office,  to spot that car that has not been moved for seven days.

That’s because it’s the only snow covered car on the block!

And this is like an open invitation for getting a ticket.

You see, according to the municipal code:

9-80-110  Abandoned vehicles.

(a)     It shall be unlawful for any person to abandon any motor vehicle on any public way within the city.  A vehicle shall be deemed to have been abandoned if it (a) is in such a state of disrepair as to be incapable of being driven in its present condition or (b) has not been moved or used for more than seven consecutive days and is apparently deserted or…Each day a vehicle remains abandoned shall constitute a separate and distinct offense for which a separate penalty may be imposed.

In other words, you need to move your car at least once every seven days. If not, you can be ticketed.

This ticket will set you back $75 bucks.

Then, the cop, or more likely Streets & Sanitation, will slap a bright orange decal on the driver’s window giving you a date by which you have to move your car. If not, your vehicle is taking a nice ride, hooked to the back of a tow truck down to one of Chicago’s lovely and romantic auto pounds.

The ransom to get your car back is $160 plus whatever extra fees may have incurred before you retrieve it.

You can get a ticket for each day your car has not been moved past the seventh day. So you can rack up a lot of tickets pretty quickly if you don’t act fast.

The simple solution is either move your car every seven days or, if you are truly lazy and pathetic, at least clear the snow off your car so it at least LOOKS like it was driven within the last week.

Just doing this will save you potentially huge headaches and from burning a hole in your wallet.

Parking Ticket 101: Welcome To Chicago!!! A Beginners Guide To Driving In Chicago

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Nearly every week, this website gets e-mails from people new to Chicago who have received Mayor Daley’s version of a “Welcome To Chicago” gift–a bright orange parking ticket or tickets for some infraction that someone from a normal place in America, would never think could be a legitimate violation.

These surprised and exasperated drivers then turn to our website with questions.

So The Expired Meter has put together a primer for new Chicago residents whom drive.

Read and heed the advice below and you’ll be a lot happier Chicagoan.

We are basically compressing approximately 12 months of learning the hard and expensive way, into 15 minutes of reading.

You are welcome!

License Plates & Registration

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If you move to Chicago from out of state, technically, you must obtain new Illinois registration and license plates from the Illinois Secretary of State within 30 days.

You have 90 days to drive on your former state’s driver’s license before it must be obtain an Illinois driver’s license.

If you move to Chicago from another town, technically, you have 30 days to change your registration address and get a new driver’s license, with the Illinois Secretary of State.

Here’s where you can find your closest Secretary of State Drivers Facility.

For more information on this subject, check out the Secretary of State’s website.

City Sticker

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All Chicago residents, technically, with license plates registered to an address within the city limits, must purchase an annual city sticker.

Currently, the city sticker costs $75.

The fine for being a resident and NOT purchasing a city sticker is $120!

New residents are given 30 days from the day they become residents (their move date) to purchase a city sticker. You must go in person to the City Clerk’s office downtown, one of their satellite offices, a Dept. of Revenue substation or at a local currency exchange.

When you make your initial city sticker purchase, you must bring proof of your new residency, ie: a lease or rental agreement.

When you purchase a new vehicle, you also have 30 days to purchase a city sticker and slap it on your windshield.

If you don’t purchase your city sticker within 30 days of your new residency or new vehicle purchase, you’ll be hit with a $40 late fee.

City sticker fees for new residents or for a new vehicle can be pro-rated. The full price of $75 will be in effect until from June 1st to November 30th. But from December 1st to March 31st, it drops to $50 and then drops to $25 from April 1st to May 31st.

You must bring in the proper documentation to prove you qualify for the pro-rated fees with documents which would include your lease, title/mortgage, car dealer bill of sale, vehicle title, or vehicle registration date.

For more information, and locations of payment centers, check out the Chicago City Clerk’s website.

Residential Permit Parking

There are some streets and areas of the city, where drivers are not allowed to park unless they have a residential permit.

Yes, it’s a big bunch of crap as we all know, tax money pays for streets.

But it’s a sad reality in Chicago so here are the facts.

These residential parking zones generally are for very high density areas, but not always.

These zones have different times of enforcement. Some are all the time, 24 hours a day. Others are from 6 PM – 6 AM. It all depends.

The key is to pay attention and not park where these signs are posted. That is unless you are visiting a friend and they have a handy dandy guest pass waiting for you to put on your dashboard.

If you decide to taunt fate and park in a residential parking zone without a sticker, you risk a $60 ticket.

If you move into an area that has zoned parking, you need to change your registration to your new address,  make sure you have a city sticker or when you purchase your city sticker, apply for your residential parking permit.

Check out the website for the City Clerk of Chicago for more residential parking permit info.

B-Truck Plates

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Trucks are not allowed to park on the majority of residential streets in Chicago. This means pickup trucks too–at least if you have B-Truck plates.

If you move to Chicago with a B-Truck plate, we strongly suggest you change the registration to a standard passenger plate. Otherwise, prepare to be ticketed.

In addition, vehicles with B-Truck plates are not allowed to legally drive on Lake Shore Drive. If anything, this is an even better reason to not have a B-Truck plate.

Back AND Front Plate Display

In Illinois, you must have both back AND front plates displayed on your vehicle. Other states may allow only the back plate displayed. So if you have out of state plates, Illinois law does not apply.

But, here in Illinois, you need to have both. Ignore the law and you will be ticketed and fined $50.

Winter Parking Restrictions

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Every year, from December 1 to April 1, a bunch of seasonal parking restrictions and outright parking bans go into effect.

Overnight Parking Bans

There are some major city arteries where no parking is allowed overnight from 3 AM – 7 AM, no matter the weather. Don’t ignore the signs just because there is no snow.

Snow, ice, dry pavement– park overnight on one of these streets and you’re making a trip to the auto pound the next morning.

Here’s a map of the streets where the overnight parking bans are in effect, a full listing of those streets.

Snow Routes (2″ Snow Ban)

There are other major thoroughfares, otherwise known as snow routes in the city where, when 2″ of snow or more hits the ground, you need to move your vehicle elsewhere, lest you be towed. This means ANYTIME there is 2″ of snow or more, not just overnight. So, if you park on one of these streets, you need to watch the weather carefully.

Here is a map of all snow route streets effected by the 2″ snow parking ban and a listing of all Chicago snow routes.

NOTE: Sometimes the 2″ snow ban and the overnight parking bans apply to the same streets.

Street Cleaning

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When winter parking restrictions end, street cleaning season begins.

From April 1 – November 30th, street sweepers putter up and down the streets of Chicago to theoretically clean the pavement and rid the streets of the flotsam and jetsam that urban environments seem to create.

Generally speaking, your street gets swept twice a month. One side gets cleaned on one day and then on the next day, the other side gets cleaned.

Street cleaning enforcement begins at 9 AM and ends at 3 PM. In that time period your vehicle cannot be parked on the side of the street to be cleaned or you risk getting a ticket. And when I say risk, I really mean, it will be ticketed.

Street cleaning violations are $50.00.

Signs announcing street cleaning are either permenantly installed or in most cases, color-coded signs are put up, and again theoretically, 24 hours or more before street cleaning is supposed to occur.

In addition, street cleaning schedules are posted here.

I suggest checking the street cleaning schedules for the streets you park on and then put the dates on your calendar so you have lots of advanced warning.

While enforcement of these violations are already pretty intense, the city has upped the ante and will soon have all street sweepers armed with cameras to make sure it nails everyone who parks illegally on street cleaning days.

Tinted Windows

Not only are tinted windows not allowed by Chicago municipal law, but are illegal by Illinois state law as well.

If you are moving to Chicago from out of town, make sure you have no, zero, none, nada tint on your front windshield and front side windows.

If you have tinted windows, spend the $30-$50 to have the tint removed or you’ll get hit with a $25 ticket now, but it jumps to $250 after January 15, 2009.

Red light Cameras

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If you are moving from out of town, you may not be familiar with these things called red light cameras.

These are special cameras, mounted at certain intersections which will photograph your license plate if you blow through a red light there. A few weeks later you will receive a ticket for $100. These are very hard to beat.

We wrote a more extensive post on red light cameras a few months ago that will give you the red light camera lowdown.

Here is a list of all of Chicago’s red light camera locations.

Da’ Boot

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Most people scream in horror or frustration when they see it on their car. Other people pace and rant when they realize they’ve been caught. It has been known to make grown men cry and hurt the wallets of many. It’s the boot.

The boot or the Denver boot, is a big, yellow, heavy, metal lock the city will slap onto your car, making it immobile, if you don’t pay your parking tickets.

If you have three or more unpaid parking tickets or red light violations in Final Determination Status, you will be eligible for the boot. This may change soon to two tickets if Mayor Daley gets his way. But in the meantime, make sure you have no more than two unpaid tickets or you risk getting booted.

Getting booted will cost you $60 for the boot removal fee, but you also have to pay ALL unpaid tickets that are in final determination.

If you don’t pay up within 24 hours, while it doesn’t happen every time, the city can and will tow your booted vehicle to the auto pound. This will cost you an additional $160 plus any storage fees the longer you leave your vehicle there.

All newer tickets that are being contested, or are still eligible to be contested or are not in Final Determination status, do not have to be paid to have the boot removed.

Parking Ticket 101 – Requesting Your Hearing

You’ve already received your ticket and decided to fight it.

The next step is to request a hearing.

Actually, you have three options with your ticket or Notice of Violation. Pay the ticket, contest by mail or request in-person hearing.

Of course, we discourage you opting to pay your ticket–at least not until you have tried fighting it first.

You can contest by mail, but that means you need to be prepared, when you send in your ticket or Notice of Violation with that request, to send in a letter arguing your case along with any documentation, evidence, etc.

We are not going to discuss that today as it requires it’s own chapter.

What we are going to concentrate on today is simply, how to request an in-person hearing.

Ticket

After receiving a parking ticket, according to the instructions on the violation, you have 7 days to pay it, contest by mail or request an in-person hearing.

To request a hearing via your ticket, you do this.

Flip your ticket over and look at the back.

Near the bottom, you will see three check boxes.

Check the box “Request For In-Person Hearing.”

Then, on the two lines below, write the address of where the vehicle is registered.

If you have your car registered at the folk’s house in the suburbs but you are living downtown somewhere, make sure you write in the correct registration address of your vehicle.

Also, write in your daytime phone number as instructed on the ticket.

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Now, on the front of the painfully bright orange envelope, in the return address in the upper left-hand corner, again, write your name and address where your car is registered.

Then, directly to the right of the return address, check the box that says “Request For In-Person Hearing.”

Now, slap a postage stamp on the envelope.

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But wait! Before you slip the ticket/hearing request into the envelope, I would suggest making a copy of the front and back of the ticket showing it filled out and also make a copy of the return envelope filled out and with the stamp on it.

Keep these copies on file just in case the wonderfully efficient U.S. postal service and/or the well organized Dept. of Revenue “misplaces” your hearing request so you have proof that you DID actually request a hearing.

It’s also good to have a copy of your ticket for reference when preparing your defense for your hearing.

Notice of Violation

If you don’t respond within 7 days when you receive the original ticket, don’t despair.

The reality is, Illinois state law requires the city to send you a Notice of Violation in the mail.

According to this notice, you have 14 days to pay your violation(s), contest by mail or request an in-person hearing.

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On the bottom portion of your Notice of Violation will be one, or more, violations listed.

Check the circle(s) under “In-Person Hearing” of the violations you want to contest (which should be ALL of them).

All your personal information (name, address, license plate number, etc.) is already printed on this form so there is nothing more to fill out before you slip it into the envelope and mail it out.As with the tickets, I encourage you to make a photocopy of the request, front and back, along with a copy of your stamped envelope, just for your records and just in case you need to prove you actually requested a hearing.

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In fact, just for insurance, take the envelope down to the U.S. Post Office and fill out a Certified Letter form. It costs a total of $3.12 to mail a certified letter. It’s just an additional $2.70 over the cost of normal postage.

This extra few bucks gives you absolute dated proof that you sent in your hearing request by mail. You can actually track the letter via the USPS website. Keep this certified receipt on file somewhere safe just in case the city loses your request.

Unfortunately, I have heard too many stories of the city losing, or “never receiving” the hearing request. To me, it’s worth the extra cash.

In-Person

You can go into any of Chicago’s five Parking Ticket Payment Centers to request your hearing too. When you go in, go to hearing reception desk where you would check in, if you had a hearing that day. You can give one of those people your ticket or Notice of Violation and they can schedule your hearing. Make sure they give you a receipt, which is usually date stamped on the bottom of your ticket or the violation notice.

If you don’t have your documentation, they can look up your ticket and schedule it as well.

Again, keep your hearing request receipt on file somewhere for your records and to prove that you actually requested a hearing if the question comes up.

By Phone

There are two options to do this by phone.

Human Operator

This can be done only from 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday.

Call 312-744-PARK (7275) . After you dial, follow the robotic teleprompts. If you’re not sure or to speed things up after the first prompt (For English press 1, Spanish press 2), you can just hit ’0′, and that will get you to a customer service person.

It may take some time on hold to get through to a live person. But be patient. It is best NOT to call between 11 AM and 1 PM as it’s their busiest time.

Once a live person comes on the line, they will identify themselves by a name and operator number. Write down both for your records, along with the time and date.

Give them your ticket violation number or your license plate. They will take your request and explain it will be 3-4 weeks before a date is scheduled.

Automated Operator

You can actually request a hearing 24 hours a day via the robot operator.

Call 312-744-PARK (7275) and just follow the prompts.

1-English, 2 Spanish

Select 4 to “Request A Hearing”

Select 1 to “Schedule An In-Person Hearing”

Enter Your 10 digit Violation Number followed by the # key

According to the Dept. of Revenue, it will take approximately 3-4 weeks for the hearing to be scheduled.

If you DON’T get a letter from the city with your hearing date(s) within this 3-4 week period, call back or check the city parking ticket website to obtain your date.

INTERNET?: The city currently doesn’t offer a way for you to request a hearing via their website.

REMINDER: Don’t forget, whether you request your hearing in-person, by phone or by mail, you still need to request your hearing within the time frame outlined on the ticket and/or the Notice of Violation. This is essentially 21 days from when you received your ticket (7 days from the ticket date plus 14 days from when the Notice of Violation was mailed).

Usually, there is a bit more time to request your hearing because of the time it takes to process the ticket, mailing notices, etc., but don’t procrastinate! Request your hearing sooner than later.

Receiving Your Hearing Date

Look for a letter from the city, printed in royal blue ink that says “Notice Of In-Person Hearing.”

The notice will give you a hearing date that is several weeks or even a month or so in the future.

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Review the violations and check them against your records to make sure you received hearing dates for ALL the violations you requested hearings.

If you requested hearings for more than one violation, you may have multiple violations being heard at the same time.

The notice will give you the expanse of a full week to come into one of the City hearing centers to fight your ticket.

Parking Ticket Geek Super Secret Tip#1: If you somehow miss your hearing the week it is scheduled, you can still go in the week after and receive your hearing.

For some reason, the Dept. of Revenue does not immediately change the status of the violations to Determination of Liability because you missed your hearing the week it was initially scheduled. Whatever the reason, I think it’s cool you still get an extra week if you screw up, get sick, are out of town, etc. So if you miss your initial date, get your butt down there the following week and have your hearing.

Make a note on your calendar, daytimer or in your electronic organizer so you don’t miss your hearing date. Put the Notice of In-Person Hearing on the front of the refrigerator or somewhere you are reminded of your hearing.

Parking Ticket Geek Super Secret Tip#2: In fact, you can come in early and fight your ticket, once your hearing is officially scheduled. One time I had hearings scheduled for a week I was going to be out of town. I came down to a hearing center to see what I could do to reschedule and they told me I could have it heard at anytime before the officially scheduled week.

Sometimes, if you come in for a hearing(s) and you already have another hearing scheduled a few weeks in the future, a cool hearing officer will let you contest that or those early if they are not too busy. Just make sure you are prepared.

IMPORTANT: If you don’t receive your hearing notice in the mail from the city regarding your hearing in 3-4 weeks, check back with the city via phone, or their website to make sure they received it and are scheduling your hearing.

NOTE: Remember, the hearing notice will be mailed to the address registered with the Illinois Secretary of State or the DMV of the state where your car is registered. So pay attention and make proper arrangements if you are vehicle is not registered at your current residence.

It makes real good sense to check the city parking ticket search site to check status on ALL your vehicles and tickets.

Now, with all the time that exists between requesting your hearing and the actual hearing date, you should have PLENTY of time to get ready for your hearing.

In the near future class, we will get you ready for your hearing by helping you prepare your defense.

Be Wary Of Special Events This Summer

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Just a heads up.

Over the past few weeks, The Expired Meter has heard multiple horror stories of people awaking on Saturday or Sunday morning to find their vehicle had disappeared or been stolen.

The shocking, expensive and painful reality was that the city had towed their vehicle, from their assumed perfectly legal parking spot, because of some sort of special event, ie: The Ravenswood Run.

Events like walk-a-thons, charity running or athletic event, street festivals, concerts, filming/movie set (starring Johnny Depp), etc.

With the summer event season just getting into full swing, I want to advise everyone to be super-extra-ultra-vigilant–especially if you live close to the lakefront or in a hot neighborhood of the city, where a lot of these events take place.

I want you to watch for special event signs, posters and letters. I want you to stay abreast of these events coming into the neighborhood. I want you to be in touch with your alderman’s office.

I don’t want you to be caught off-guard and get towed because you were not paying attention. I don’t want you to have to endure one of Dante’s very special rings of hell called the Chicago Auto-Pound, have to shell out $160.00 or more and waste the better part of a beautiful summer weekend.

That’s because I care about you dear reader.

The city of Chicago does not.

Be careful this summer.

Parking Ticket 101- Know The Law!

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Now that you’ve received your ticket, and looked over and documented the parking environment where you received the ticket, it’s time to start preparing your defense.

The first thing to do is to look up and read the law.

The great thing about the internet age, is that you can access city of Chicago municipal code right from your computer.

Before, you had to haul your ass down to the local library and try to locate the arm bustingly heavy, black bound tomes that contain all of Chicago’s municipal laws, rules and regulations.

Now all of it available online.

City of Chicago Municipal Code – Parking Regulations

For easy reference, here is a list in summary form, of all parking related violation in Chicago.

City of Chicago Parking Violations

So go ahead and look on your ticket for the exact code violation in the municipal code.

You can either browse to your violation, or do a search by the specific violation number. If you don’t see your violation number just browsing, do a search.

Take the time to read through the code.

Look, I know you’re not Denny Crane or Perry Mason. I understand you’re not an attorney. But you’re a reasonably intelligent person (you wouldn’t be reading this website if you were a moron) and can understand this if you just go slow and read through it a few times. It may take you 5, 6, 10 times to do so, but it will be worth it.

Look, if a dolt like me can do it, you can certainly can do it too.

Because if the violation on the ticket does not accurately represent what the law says, and you can prove and/or argue that this wasn’t the case, you should beat the ticket.

The reason you need to know the law you’re fighting is because many hearing officers DO NOT KNOW the law.

One would think, someone who is an attorney, who is presiding over hearings and/or adjudicating parking tickets as their job–part-time or otherwise–would be intimate with this municipal code.

While there are many fine, knowledgeable hearing officers, a great number–a shockingly great number–DO NOT KNOW the law.

I have had to cite the law to hearing officers many a time. In addition, when waiting to have my hearings, I have listened to many hearing officers offer erroneous interpretation of the laws.

I guess I shouldn’t be shocked, we live in Chicago.

But let it put it this way. If a goof like me, a true dumbass, non-lawyer, knows the law better than a lawyer whom spent three years and thousands of dollars for law school and who is paid to adjudicate this area of the law, something is wrong, wrong, WRONG!!!

Let me give you a few examples of how knowledge of the code has helped.

1-A reader was parked at an address in a Non-Central Business District, but was ticketed for “Central Business District” (aka Downtown). When he pointed this out to the hearing officer, it was dismissed. Knowing the law let him beat the ticket.

2-I’ve been ticketed for parking 20 feet from a cross walk. But if you read the law, a sign must be posted. My photos showed no sign so the ticket got tossed.

3- A buddy of mine drives a delivery van for a living. He was parked in a loading zone and was inside a building dropping off some boxes. When he got back, he had a ticket. But the law allows for 30 minutes of time to unload your delivery. He fought, told his story and won.

For all these reasons, you should at least read over the violation listed on your ticket in the municipal code, so you can be better prepared for your hearing or to quote in your contest letter.

Contesting Parking Tickets 101

You’ve walking toward your car when you notice it.

How can you NOT notice it.

Small, rectangular and mockingly bright orange in color.

Your heart begins to race and your blood pressure starts spiking. Perhaps a vein in your temple begins to throb.

“Curses!” or “Nertz!”, you exclaim. Or perhaps you have another set of profanities you blurt out in rage.

Stop. Breathe deep. Relax. It’s going to be alright. The absolute first thing you need to do is be calm and rational enough to check the ticket thoroughly.

This is your first line of defense in fighting your parking ticket.

That’s because if the facts alleged in the ticket are inaccurate in any way, and you can prove it, the ticket will be thrown out at the hearing.

Parking Ticket

Check The Facts Alleged On Your Ticket

Is the date and time correct? Was AM checked instead of PM?

Is the license plate number correct? Is the expiration date listed correctly? Is the type of plate listed right (passenger vs. truck vs. taxi) If it’s not your license plate, even if it’s off by a single digit, you are off the hook.

Is the make and model of your vehicle listed correctly? Do you drive a DeLorean but it’s listed as Lexus? BAM! Grand slam!

Is the address of the alleged violation correct? And I don’t mean, you were parked at 1416 S. Ashland and the ticket says 1420. That’s close enough. I mean, more than a half block away at the very least. For example, there is no such address as 33323 N. Clark St.

But you also want to make sure that the address on the ticket is not on the opposite side of the street where you parked.

Is the direction on the street wrong? Did the enforcement officer list S. instead of N., or E. instead of W.? There is no S. Lincoln Ave.

If it’s a meter violation, check to make sure the correct parking meter was listed. Every meter should have it’s own unique identification number that is on the lower part of the back of the meter, engraved into a silver metal plate.

Here’s a good one. For an expired meter, there are two designations of zones. Central Business District ($50) and NON-Central Business District ($30).  Basically Central Business District is downtown Chicago and Non-Central, is everywhere else. But, if you are clearly not downtown and you are cited for an expired meter but for Central Business District, you can prove by the address on your violation that this ticket was factually incorrect and therefore issued wrongly. ALWAYS check this.

Take a damn microscope to the parking ticket if you need to. Check every little detail.

If any of the facts listed on the ticket are wrong, and you can prove it, you can bring them up in your testimony before the hearing officer or in your contest letter.

Check The Parking Environment

After you do that, check the street environment where you are parked.

Check to make sure the signs and parking environment match the violation that is alleged.

Are there signs prohibiting parking? If so,are truly in violation or did the enforcement officer interpret the signage incorrectly?

If there are signs with a time sensitive violation (ie: No Parking 7-9 AM Rush Hour) is the time listed on the ticket consistent with the signage?

If your ticket is for street cleaning, are there signs posted on the block? If so, are they obscured by leaves, or have blown away in a rain storm? Did the signs go up 24 hours before the streets were cleaned?

If you were ticketed for rush hour parking, but in reality, you were parked in a bus stop illegally, the case should get thrown out. The hearing officer can only rule on the violation alleged on the ticket.

Photography and Documentation

If you have your camera with you and it’s still light enough, take photos of any signage or details that prove your case. Take photos of the street where you were parked to establish the photos represent the area you were claiming you were parked.

It’s best to photograph the situation right then if you can. Not only is it more accurate, but if you have to go home and get a camera, you may not come back and end up blowing it off altogether. Do it now!!!

Take some notes on any conflicting facts or erroneous data on your ticket, so you can consult them later when you formulate your testimony for your hearing or contest letter.

The key is to stay calm and rationale, check over the facts on your ticket and the parking environment and document what you can in the moment.

This is possibly the best preparation you can have for contesting your ticket.

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek – 4/5/08

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Dear Mr. Parking Ticket Geek,

I saw your site and thought you might be able to help me. I received a $50 ticket a few months ago around the corner of Bryn Mawr and Ashland for parking in one of those places where you apparently need a local permit. The problem is, it was very poorly marked and I had no idea that was the case, so naturally, I contested the ticket by mail.

A few weeks ago I realized that I hadn’t heard anything and I checked the status of the ticket online to find that it was in final determination and the fine had doubled to $100. I called the city and asked what the deal was, and they told me the hearing had passed. I just moved to IL last June, and my company put me in temporary housing before I found my own apartment. I bought a car the day I got here, and registered it under the address of the temporary housing where I was staying. Once I moved into my apartment and started a new job, updating the address at which the car was registered with the Secretary of State somehow slipped my mind (go figure!).

Anyway, apparently my hearing date was sent to the temporary housing address, since that’s where the car was registered. The city is telling me that since they sent the notice to the address that they have on file, I was properly notified and therefore missing my hearing date closed the case. I called two separate times and got the same speech, so this is clearly the policy in place.

I have many problems with this. When I changed my driver’s license to IL, I did that at the Secretary of State Office and have my current address on my license, so why isn’t that the address the Secretary of State has on file?

More from a perspective of justice, why is a citizen who is clearly
conscientious enough to make a follow-up call about a ticket he hasn’t heard about being treated the same way as somebody who’s being irresponsible and just trying to blow it off and forget about it?

Hopefully your expertise can help me out, but if not, at least you get a good rant for your site.

-Eric in Evanston

Dear Eric-

Ouch! This is a tough one.

Unfortunately, I think you are pretty much screwed here.

Once you a ticket enters Final Determination, it is nearly impossible to get a hearing on it.

Because your vehicle was registered to the old address, and the city claims they sent the hearing notices and subsequent notices there, that’s all they are required by law to do.

However, there is a tiny sliver of daylight coming through that door that’s swiftly closing on you.

Here is what I suggest.

The only way I know how to get a hearing on a ticket that is in Final Determination is to challenge the city’s notice. In other words, argue that the city did not give you proper notice.

You are going to have to go to one of the city’s administrative hearing centers, file a motion, and get in front of a hearing officer.

Once there, the hearing officer is going to look at the city record of notices. He or she is going to see the history of the notices and see the city supposedly sent out notices. Then they are going to ask you if you received them.

Explain that the entire time you were there, you didn’t receive any correspondence from the city in regards to your hearing request.

Tell them you moved and had your mail forwarded but never received any notices.

Explain how you had your driver’s license updated with your new address and assumed that should have served as notice to the city that this was now your address of record.

When you go in to try for a hearing, be prepared to fight your ticket right then and there.

Bring photos of the street to show how poorly marked it is. Document that signs are not posted or obscured.

I honestly don’t think you are going to get far with this. At the same time, I don’t want to discourage you from at least trying. I think it would be worth the 30 or 60 minutes to try it out. You may get lucky and come across a compassionate hearing officer.

I’m sending you T-shirt that won’t help you pay your ticket, but perhaps help you feel at least a little better.

All I can say is “Welcome to Chicago!”

The only upside is that you have learned a lesson. Always watch your back with the city of Chicago.

In general, this is a good lesson in checking the city’s website to check status of your vehicle and tickets. Make it a habit to check every few weeks to make sure you’re not missing something. It only takes a few minutes.

Here is the website: City of Chicago Ticket Search

Realize it only takes a few weeks after your hearing request to have the hearing scheduled. If you haven’t heard after a month, call 312-744-PARK or check the city website.

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

How To Avoid Those Pesky Orange Tickets

We are just about to dive into the nuts and bolts of fighting parking tickets.

But before we start that, I want to do a short piece on AVOIDING parking tickets.

Obviously, the best strategy with parking tickets is to never get them. Of course, I’m not one to lecture, based on the numbers of tickets that I’ve received. But I want you to learn from the mistakes (the many, many, painful mistakes) that I have made.

1-Know Your Parking Environment

If, like many Chicagoans who don’t have a garage or can’t afford offstreet parking, and you park on the street, you need to be intimate with the parking environment around where you live and park.

Take a walk or drive up and down the street, around the block. Make note of the signs and parking restrictions. Make note of the fire hydrants, stop signs, cross walks, handicapped parking spaces, etc.

2-Check Out Other People’s Tickets

When you see tickets on other cars, it may make sense to quickly (before someone catches you messing with their ride and tries to kick your ass) check out their ticket to see what they were ticketed for. This could give you some insight into the minds of some of the cops patrolling the neighborhood to see what violations they’re trolling for.

We have an asshole cop in our neighborhood that comes through about 3 AM every two weeks like clockwork that is always looking for city vehicle sticker violations, tinted windows and other minor infractions–some of them warranted, but most of them not.
3-Know Your Street Cleaning Schedule

Street cleaning is the bane of the street parker. Many city apartment dwellers will park their cars on the street for the entire week while they commute daily to work. So paying attention to the bright orange Street Cleaning signs that materialize from nowhere to sabotage comfortable parking hibernation spot.

A lot of people don’t know this, but street cleanings are not random events. Street cleaning is scheduled well in advance of the street cleaning season, which runs once a month per side of street from late March to late November.

Check with your alderman’s office for the schedule of street cleaning for the season on ALL the streets where you park, not just the street where you live as you may park around the corner from your house or apartment.

Slap the schedule(s) on your fridge and input it into your Blackberry, Treo or other phone. Write it on your calendar. That way you can be prepared and know ahead of time when you have to move your car.

Here’s a weblink to the street cleaning schedules for all Chicago’s 50 wards.

Street Cleaning Schedules

4-Read The Signs!!!

Take the time to read the signs where you are parking. Sometimes, scratch that, many times you will find confusing and contradictory signs posted along the streets of Chicago. Take the time to read and understand the restrictions of where you are parking. If it’s a timed restriction, check your clock and make sure you are not parking there when the restriction is in effect, and make sure you return before the time restriction kicks in.

Good Advice

5-If You’re Not Sure, Don’t Park There

If the signs are so confusing that you get so dizzy you want to puke…don’t park there. Better safe than ticketed.

And really, I am less worried about the driver not understanding the confusing signage, I don’t trust the dumb ass ticket writer who may not be able to read the signs correctly, understand the law, the law or is motivated by a quota.

6-Embrace Your Inner Paranoia

Paranoia is your friend. Love your paranoia. It will serve you well. Overconfidence and cockiness are not your friends. Do not trust their sweet allure. Always behave as if a revenue officer is just around the corner, waiting and sexually aroused at the idea of giving your car a ticket. So don’t take your chances thinking you don’t have to feed the meter or you can double park to “just run in for a minute.” You are playing with fire!!!

7-Pay Attention To The Time

Check the time when you feed your meter. Then make note of when you need to return to feed the meter or leave. I have a timed memo function in my cell phone that I set to remind me when my meter expires. Watch the clock!

8-Stop, Think, Park

In other words, don’t be stupid. Sometimes, just taking an extra second to think, will prevent you from making a dumb mistake. Just use common sense whenever you can.

I hear alcohol may impair your judgement. So when bar hopping, even if you’re not technically blotto, and you feel that rush of false confidence screaming at you to park in front of that fire hydrant, so you can get to the next bar–ignore it and just pay the valet. It will be cheaper in the long run than getting the ticket.

Hope all this helps. I wish I had followed my own advice in the past.
If you have any parking ticket avoidance tips, we would welcome your input.