Over 11.7 million parking tickets were issued last year in New York City alone. But what’s more shocking than the billions of dollars worth of parking fines is that 80% of people don’t bother disputing the ticket and just pay it. After all, not paying your parking ticket can come with serious consequences that include further penalties on top of what you already owe.
Receiving a parking ticket also gets your license plate placed in the system as an offender. And when a law enforcer accesses the database and runs your registration, they will ultimately discover all your outstanding parking tickets.
But that’s not all; if the tickets go into Judgment the Department of Finance may go beyond booting and towing by taking other enforcement actions like suspending your NY State vehicle registration and garnishing your wages. They may even refer your account to a collection agency. Debt collectors are notoriously relentless, and you may end up hounded with threatening calls at home and work.
But while it may seem like paying your parking ticket is the only way to avoid all the trouble, many people don’t realize that fighting the ticket is easy and painless. You may win the case and not pay the fine at all. In this guide, we will talk about common parking violations and fines, reasons and ways to dispute parking tickets, and a few other tips and tricks.
Common Parking Violations and Fines
New York City has a long list of parking rules and regulations. They are outlined in detail, along with their violations codes and corresponding fines on the NYC.gov website. Each fine amount includes a $15 New York State Criminal Justice surcharge. To give you an idea of how much you could potentially spend on parking ticket fines and fees, here are some of the most common parking violations:
- Under Code 20, parking in a General No Parking area where parking is not allowed by sign, street marking, or traffic control device will cost you $60-$65 depending on where you are in NYC.
- Under Code 27, parking in a zone reserved for people with disabilities comes with a $180 fine.
- Under Code 37, parking in excess of the allowed time on the parking meter will cost you $35 or $65, depending on whether you’re parked on Manhattan 96th St. & below or other areas.
- Under Code 40, stopping, standing, or parking closer than 15 feet from a fire hydrant will result in a $115 fine.
- Under Code 48, stopping, standing, or parking within a marked bicycle lane comes with a $115 fine.
- Under Code 67, parking in front of a pedestrian ramp will cost you $165.
Common Reasons to Dispute a Parking Ticket
There are as many reasons to contest a parking ticket as there are reasons why parking tickets make an appearance on your windshield. Here are some of the common reasons to contest a parking ticket:
The car became disabled. – It can happen that your car has broken down, and it’s waiting to be fixed or towed away. The ticket issuer may not have realized that there’s no way you could move it.
The parking meter is broken. – Muni-meters (municipal parking meter) can be found on most street blocks and avenues throughout New York City. To use a meter, enter the parking space number and insert coins or a NYC Parking Card to purchase time units. Press the green button and collect your receipt. But what if the muni-meter is broken? You can park in the spot; however, you risk receiving a parking violation. You may be able to fight the ticket if you prove the muni-meter was broken that day and if you did your duty of reporting the broken meter on the 311 NYC website.
The parking ticket was issued in error. – Issuing officers can make mistakes. If you read the parking ticket and do not agree with the violation, you have every reason to fight the ticket.
Why Contesting a Parking Ticket is Always Worth the Fight
You may think that disputing a parking ticket is more trouble than it’s worth. However, it’s better than paying a fee that you don’t deserve. It would surprise you how often it happens that challenging a parking ticket in NYC is as easy as reading the ticket and focusing on any errors made by the issuing officer that may render the ticket legally invalid.
Remember, the issuing officer is just as human as you are and prone to making mistakes. They may misjudge how close you’ve parked from a hydrant or misread a sign.
An error such as incorrectly describing the make and model of your vehicle can be enough to make the ticket defective. Other mistakes by the issuing officer may include forgetting to sign their name or incorrectly stating the time and date of the infraction. Illegible handwriting and signatures can also make the ticket invalid. The ticket might not even cite the statute you violated at all. It would surprise you what gets left out or is done incorrectly when issuing officers hastily scribble on parking tickets.
Ways to Dispute a Ticket
If you’re planning to dispute a ticket, request a hearing as soon as possible. To avoid paying late penalties, dispute the ticket within 30 days after the ticket was issued. After 30 days, $10 is added to your fine amount. If 60 days pass and you still haven’t paid, another $30 is added.
After 90 days, the penalty fine goes up to $60 and is added to the original fine along with both penalties. The violation goes into judgment, along with a 9% interest per year that will be added to the total amount due. While you can request a hearing up to one year after the date of judgment, you not only have to pay the original fine but also all the outstanding penalties. You can dispute a ticket online, by mail, in person, or by mobile app.
How can I dispute a parking ticket online?
You can dispute a ticket online by visiting the NYC.gov website. You will need to specify if you are the owner or operator of the ticketed vehicle or a broker disputing the ticket on behalf of a client. You will need to enter the violation number, the 10-digit number that appears on your ticket. On the following pages, you will need to submit your defense and any supporting evidence. After the online hearing, expect the hearing decision by email from the Administrative Law Judge.
How can I dispute a parking ticket by mail?
If you have no access to a computer, you can fight parking tickets by traditional mail. On the back of the ticket, you will find the NYC Department of Finance’s postal mailing address. Place the ticket in an envelope along with a letter explaining why you believe you are not guilty. Add photos of any evidence that may help prove that the ticket was issued to you in error. The Administrative Law Judge’s decision will also be sent to you by mail.
How can I dispute a parking ticket in person?
If you want to dispute your parking ticket in person, find the Department of Finance Business Centers closest to you. It is not necessary to have an appointment, and you also don’t need to have an attorney present. However, walk-in hearings are on a first-come, first-served basis over regular office hours. So if you work over the regular workweek, it may mean having to miss a day of work just to dispute your ticket.
How can I dispute a parking ticket via the NYC Pay or Dispute app?
NYC Department of Finance also has the NYC Parking Ticket Pay or Dispute app. The app allows you to look up your tickets by violation or license plate number right from your phone. The app allows you to pay your tickets with a credit card, debit card, or eCheck. The app also allows you to view all your saved tickets, license plate, and dispute history.
Gathering and Presenting Evidence
One of the most important aspects of disputing a parking ticket is providing evidence to prove the ticket was issued in error. Almost everyone these days has a smartphone that comes with a good camera.
When you find a parking ticket on your windshield and before you pull out of the allegedly illegal parking spot, pull out your phone camera to take photos of the scene. What if your parking ticket claims you’ve exceeded the time on the parking meter? However, when you check the meter, you find that it’s broken. Snap a photo to prove the parking meter is defective. And what if the parking ticket states that you’re parked in a no-parking area, yet the ‘no parking’ signs are hidden from view due to ongoing construction work or tree branches?
It’s crucial to take a photo of the scene as it is on the day you received the ticket. After all, much can change from now until your case is reviewed. The construction may be cleared away, the tree branches may be trimmed, and the parking meter may be fixed.
Take photos that tell the whole story. Include the street names or building addresses in the pictures as much as possible. You may have to cross the street or walk away a few yards to snap a photo of the entire side of the street where you are parked. The photo should show where your car is relative to the street sign, fire hydrant, marked lane, pedestrian ramp, and so on. Alternatively, the photo you take may prove that there were no visible signs anywhere on the block.
If you choose to present your evidence online or via the app, you can upload the images of your evidence. For in-person hearings and disputes by mail, you will need to print out your photos. Remember not to send the originals via mail.
If you received a parking ticket while waiting for your broken-down vehicle to be fixed or towed, documents that prove your car was disabled at the time the ticket was issued should also be included in your evidence. This may include receipts from a towing or repair bill indicating the time and date. You may even get witness statements who were there to attest that your car was disabled at the time in question.
What to Do If Your Car is Towed
Sometimes a ticket is the least of your worries. What if you return to the spot where you parked to find that your car isn’t there? There are three likely scenarios why your vehicle is no longer where you parked it. The first is that is was stolen. The second is that it may have been relocated because there was a street fair or parade that occurred during the time it was parked. But if you parked illegally, chances are your car was towed and impounded.
The Traffic Enforcement Division has several reasons why it may have towed and impounded your car. You have been double-parked or were blocking an intersection or tunnel. Maybe you were parked in front of a fire hydrant, which comes with a hefty ticket fee by itself.
If you suspect that it was towed, call 311 or 212-TOW-AWAY (869-2929). Every borough has a tow pound, and your car will likely be taken to the one closest to where it was illegally parked. However, if they tow pound is full, it will be taken to a tow pound in another borough.
Before you go to the tow pound to retrieve your vehicle, stop and think about what day it is. If it’s a major holiday like New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, the tow pounds will be closed, and no one will be there to release your vehicle back to you. If it’s a regular day, be prepared with the following:
- vehicle registration certificate (current)
- vehicle insurance card (current)
- valid driver’s license
- tow fee payment (cash, check, credit card, debit card, money order,)
Don’t worry if all the required documents were left inside the car. The tow pound will allow you to retrieve them from your vehicle under supervision. Getting your car towed not only comes with a parking ticket fee, but it comes with a regular $185 tow fee. And if you don’t retrieve your vehicle the same day it was towed, they add another $20 as an overnight storage fee.
Other Ways to Dispute a Parking Ticket
Disputing the parking ticket online, in-person, by mail, or via the app can be a hassle for a busy New Yorker or out-of-towner. While these methods are the ones recommended by the city of New York, there is another approach to fighting NYC parking tickets.
Companies like Ticket Wiper have developed a handy app that makes contesting parking tickets even easier. With Ticket Wiper, just scan the parking ticket or type in the details on the app to get the dispute process started. Similar to the NYC Pay or Dispute app, Ticket Wiper gives you access to the NYC database. You don’t have to enter your ticket details manually. All you have to do is enter your plate number, and the Ticket Wiper system checks for any open tickets.
With Ticket Wiper, there’s no need to stress yourself out with trying to prove your innocence or coming up with a valid reason why you were parked where you were parked. We use our vast knowledge and expertise to get tickets dismissed by finding things you have missed. We find defects on your actual ticket – from simple typos to the ticket being issued under the wrong section of the law. There may be missing information that you didn’t even realize was missing because you didn’t know what to look for.
The best part is that the moment that your parking ticket goes into the Ticket Wiper system and we begin the dispute process, you don’t have to have to worry about late fees piling up. Once the process begins, your tickets are frozen until a verdict is reached. Ticket Wiper doesn’t charge anything when you submit a parking ticket. You only pay when your ticket gets dismissed.
Why is this a better alternative to disputing a ticket online, in person, by mail, or via the NYC Department of Finance app? With Ticket Wiper, there’s a team dedicated entirely to helping you save money and getting your parking tickets dismissed. Remember, the other methods recommended by the city are only to make the dispute process easier. However, it’s outside companies like Ticket Wiper that do the work to ensure you win. Ready to win? The Ticket Wiper app is available on the App Store and Google Play.