11 Legitimate Ways To Get out of Paying a Parking Ticket

Here’s what to do when you get a parking ticket you don't want to pay.
Updated July 18, 2024
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You didn’t see the no-parking sign or thought you could get away with parking in that spot for just one minute. Now that you have a parking ticket, what are your options for getting out of it?

Don’t do anything illegal, but there are some strategies you may be able to use to get out of the ticket so you don’t have to pay that big bill.

Check out these ways to get out of paying for a parking ticket that could keep more cash in your wallet.

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Know how to contest the ticket

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Read the ticket right away. There are details on it about how to contest it — which is the opportunity you have to fight that ticket.

You’ll likely have a limited amount of time to request a hearing or contest it.

Take a photo

Екатерина Шелудько/Adobe taking picture of a car

Before you move your vehicle, take a photo of the car and its location. That’s important if you know you didn’t do anything wrong.

That photo can serve as proof that you were not in the wrong location or that, for some reason, you believed it was OK to park there. If the meter was broken or you parked far enough from the fire hydrant, this photo proves the point.

Check to see if the make and model is wrong

highwaystarz/Adobe frustrated female motorist

Errors on the ticket can make it void. One of the easiest ways to get out of a ticket is to find an error like the wrong make and model of the car described.

If the issuing officer describes your car inaccurately, it’s possible to ask for the ticket to be declared invalid.

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Check for the officer’s signature

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The parking ticket must have the signature of the issuing officer on it. If it’s not there, that’s an indication that the ticket may not be valid.

In some areas, the signature of the officer (or printed form) must be legible. If it’s not, that could work in your favor.

Look up the law you broke

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The ticket should have an ordinance listed (often a long string of numbers) that tells you what law you broke. Look up that law by Googling your city’s name and the ordinance number, or look at the city’s website.

Find out if you really broke the law or if some detail of the ordinance gets you off the hook. For example, if that photo shows you were 5 feet from the fire hydrant and the law says 5 feet is acceptable, that works in your favor.

Show that you didn’t know it was handicap-only

mbruxelle/Adobe disabled blue parking sign

If you got a ticket because you parked in an area reserved for those with a handicap permit, evaluate the area closely. Is it hard to tell if the area was reserved for such use?

For example, if the paint on the parking spot is no longer clear, that could work in your favor. If there is a sign but it seems to be positioned next to another parking spot, take a photo.

Use an app to do the work

A_B_C/Adobe person texting text message

Some apps may help you get out of a parking ticket. The Off The Record (OTR) app is one example. It fights traffic and parking tickets with a high win rate. Another is WinIt, which doesn’t charge you a fee unless it gets your ticket dismissed.

Just make sure the cost is reasonable and paying the parking ticket isn’t cheaper.

Plea to the courts

WESTOCK/Adobe pending old cases

Sometimes the best way is to ask for forgiveness. If you don’t have a lot of parking tickets and have a valid excuse, contest the ticket or request a hearing.

Be honest about what happened and why. It may not always work, but it’s worth a try. If there’s a witness that can back up your story, that could help, too.

Request a hearing

WARAPHON/Adobe judges gavel placed prominently

A hearing allows you to speak your case to the court, which may allow you to pull on their heartstrings. However, if you decide to request a hearing, make sure you nail it.

Dress professionally, be organized, and have a statement written out. Be polite and answer all questions respectfully. That will go a long way.

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Know what not to say

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No matter how you contest the ticket, don’t make mistakes in how you request that support. Never admit guilt, including with statements such as “I didn’t know the law.” You also don’t want to say things like, “I was about to move my car” or “I’ve been parking there for years!”

Admitting guilt makes it impossible for the court to dismiss your ticket. Be careful of what you imply in what you say.

Seek legal help

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Parking tickets are often expensive annoyances, but they usually don’t lead to problems with your record unless you have too many.

When there’s a lot on the line, such as your right to drive, it’s time to consider getting help from an attorney.

Bottom line

Andrey Popov/Adobe driver looking at parking ticket

Parking tickets range in severity (you may get banned from parking on a school parking lot, for example, if you get too many). Most don’t limit your actual driving privileges.

Before you go into all of the work to set up a two-minute hearing that you have to wait two hours for, consider what the ticket costs you, what the outcome of paying it is, and whether you really did violate the law so you can avoid wasting money fighting a losing battle.

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Author Details

Sandy Baker Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.