Can I Challenge a Parking Ticket?
Challenging an unfair parking ticket can seem like a case of David vs. Goliath, but it is possible to succeed with the right knowledge.
You can fight a parking ticket that was unfairly given in several circumstances. For example, you can contest a ticket containing incorrect information, such as the wrong time or registration number, or if the officer failed to notice a correctly displayed permit. However, you may need to provide evidence showing the ticket was issued unfairly.
It may also be possible to contest a parking ticket when you (or someone in your vehicle) committed a parking violation without realizing it or for reasons outside your control. Saying you didn't see a parking sign that's clearly there won't be a successful defense, but you may succeed if the sign was missing, damaged or showed the wrong information.
Other situations when you may be able to dispute a parking ticket may include being unable to pay for parking due to a missing or broken meter or incurring a ticket after your vehicle was stolen or sold. You'll usually need to produce a police report recording the theft or proof of sale to defend a parking ticket in the latter scenarios.
Parking regulations and what counts as a valid defense against a parking ticket can vary significantly between municipalities. Ensuring you understand the parking rules where you live and how to display your permit correctly can help you avoid receiving an unfair parking ticket and make incorrect tickets easier to dispute.
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How to dispute a parking ticket depends on the rules in the city or area where you received it. The ticket should include a deadline for payment, which is usually around 30 days after issue — it's best to raise a dispute as soon as possible before that deadline, instead of paying the fine and raising an issue later. Otherwise, it could be challenging to recover your money, even if the person assessing your dispute finds in your favor.
You can find out how to dispute a ticket by checking the parking authority's website. Usually, you can file a dispute by email or mail, and many areas have apps or web portals enabling road users to challenge a ticket online. Keep a record of all your correspondence with the parking authority, including the original parking ticket.
After receiving a parking ticket, it can help your case to photograph any evidence that could support your argument. For example, time-stamped photographs of faulty meters or incorrect signage can help you prove you didn't violate the rules intentionally. It's also worth checking the statute relevant to the alleged violation to see if the parking officer's assessment was correct.
When making your appeal, include attachments of any relevant evidence and state your case as clearly as possible. Ideally, you should refer to the specific statute in your appeal. Include any facts that can help the authority make a determination, but avoid being disrespectful or muddying your appeal with irrelevant information. You should also include the date and time printed on your parking ticket and any other information that identifies the ticket.
Don't be tempted to lie or falsify evidence to challenge a parking ticket. You could be liable for additional costs and fines if your claim proceeds to a full parking ticket hearing.
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You may not need to attend a parking ticket hearing if the facts in the case are clear-cut. However, you may be told to participate in a hearing in-person, by phone or via video link. Provide hard copies of any evidence requested, and ensure you have additional copies with you.
Magistrates often conduct parking ticket hearings. The parking authority or police department will have the opportunity to present evidence supporting the ticket, and you can also explain why you feel the ticket was unfair and give your evidence. For civil violations, the magistrate can determine whether you're responsible for paying your parking fine after weighing the evidence. However, they may refer the case to the criminal court if you received a ticket for a criminal violation.
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