Parking Wars

Parking Wars is a reality television series that follows “the everyday people on the front lines of parking enforcement in Philadelphia and Detroit.”  While most of our parking violations won’t even be half as dramatic, I hope none of our readers has accepted a parking citation without putting up a fight.

The first thing you should always do when you receive a parking ticket is to DECLINE it.  Depending on where you live, the exact procedure might differ, but you usually have 30 days to contest either through an online database (as in Massachusetts) or by writing a letter (such as in Washington DC to the DMV’s Adjudication Services).    Regardless, the general idea is that you have the opportunity to explain any extenuating circumstances to the DMV and put forth any reasons you should be excused from having to pay a fine.  Below are some suggestions; remember to provide pictures, where appropriate, for visual effect:

  • The sign was obscured, so you thought you were parking in a legal spot.
  • You have parked in the exact spot on multiple other occasions and have never received a citation.
  • The officer miscalculated how close you parked to a fire hydrant or how far you parked from a curb.
  • The parking meter was broken.
  • You went an hour over the meter, because you were wearing a watch that haven’t been changed to account for Daylight Savings.
  • You had a medical emergency and it would have been unsafe and irresponsible for you to move the car and be out on the road.

Once you deny your ticket , it will take several weeks before you hear back from the DMV.  If they refuse to accept your bulls**t explanation, you still have to pay the ticket, but at least you have some time to start saving up.  On the other hand, they might lower your fine or dismiss your ticket entirely.  I have contested four parking citations so far and have gotten all four dismissed.  (Perhaps the bigger lesson here is to learn to park properly, but this is neither here nor there.)  Finally, if you are unable to pay the fine at once, you can contact the DMV again to work out a payment plan.  Just like you should always call your credit card companies, cell phone providers, and utilities services to try to waive any installation or late payment fees, it’s worth a shot to try and haggle with the DMV over a parking violation – it may save you some money, or you might end up not paying at all.