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Maybe you mistook that parking spot for one that was actually legal. Maybe you weren’t paying attention and missed a sign. Maybe you cheated and took one you knew was off-limits because, how often do they check these things anyway?
Whatever the cause, you’ve now got a ticket mocking you from under your windshield wiper, you’re probably wondering, “what happens if you don’t pay a parking ticket?”
Well, from obnoxious fines to legal hassles—and even worse things—choosing not to pay a parking ticket rarely works out in the end.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Parking Ticket: An Overview
Generally speaking, not paying a parking ticking results in a fine, several hurdles designed to make it difficult—or impossible— to legally use your car, and you will be required to deal with private companies, the state, or both to banish those consequences.
There are, of course, ways of battling parking tickets, and we’ll get to those as well, but first, let’s take a look at the potential causes of a parking ticket.
What attracts a Parking Ticket?
Part of what makes parking tickets so infuriating is that they can arise from a wide range of different causes.
You might have parked somewhere, either permanently or temporarily, thinking it’s perfectly fine and possessing no ill will toward your fellow motorists or the legal system.
You are not trying to break the law.
Then, of course, by sheer accident, you do. Now, not only do you have to deal with (spoiler alert) annoying parking fees, legal dates, and other potential consequences, but the infringement may also get stuck on your “record.”
As someone who has always been a careful driver, that can be quite upsetting.
So, what are some of the potential causes of that vicious little ticket peeking over the hood?
Among the most common causes of parking tickets are:
- Parking for “just a minute” without paying.
- Parking in an empty area and thinking that you won’t be subject to parking fees or rules there.
- Parking without setting the parking time on the meter.
- Parking and then exceeding the amount of time for which you’ve paid.
- Parking in a No Parking area.
- Parking behind the signpost indicating the parking area.
- Parking in the wrong direction.
- Parking outside the allotted parking space.
Now that we’ve established a few of the common ways to incur a parking ticket, let’s shift gears and focus on what happens if you don’t pay a parking ticket on time.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay a Parking Ticket On Time:
1. Increasing Fines
A parking ticket is, at its most basic, a fine you’re required to pay for breaking one of the parking-related rules on the property.
On the one hand, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Paying fees is one of the most common forms of punishment in our auto and legal codes.
What’s more, it’s a lucrative punishment for the state, with several major US cities making as much a $1.4 billion in annual revenue from parking tickets.
What can make parking tickets especially frustrating, however, is the way the fees add up over time. This can happen for the best and most innocent of reasons.
For example, you may be a young driver without much money or live on a very tight budget. While parking tickets don’t tend to cost wild amounts of money, especially the first time, it may very well be a larger fine than you can comfortably pay.
You might think that you’ll skip out on the fine because, hey, it’s not like the government will miss that money from one individual who can’t afford to pay, right?
On the other hand, maybe you want to do the honorable thing and pay, but for reasons described above, you can’t right now and intend to pay “later” once you get a bit more cash.
Unfortunately, both of those self-justifications for not paying a parking ticket right away can be disastrous, because the longer you wait, the worse it gets.
Missing a payment cutoff date often comes with steep penalties.
For example, in New York, if you go more than 90 days without paying, you may have to pay an extra $60 late fee and 9% interest on the initial fine if the ticket remains unpaid past 100 days.
In California, a late fee could come with a “civil assessment,” which can set you back as much as $300.
Simply put, dodging parking tickets because of the cost doesn’t add up.
2. Your Car Gets a Boot
Need another reason for why it doesn’t make sense to leave parking tickets unpaid?
The consequences can get much worse than the fines described above—beginning with your car being booted.
After all, those parking meters typically come with cameras. Parking areas are often equipped with surveillance in the parking meters themselves or in nearby areas, so the police will know and recognize your license plate.
If they recognize your vehicle and you have a stack of unpaid parking tickets, you might just get a boot slapped over one of your wheels, prohibiting you from leaving before you pay.
3. Interstate Summons
Don’t think that just because you left a state in which you got a ticket that you can get away with it, either.
The police in the state you left will be sharing your info with officers in your state of residence or the state to which you have most recently traveled, and if they catch you there…its Fee City again—and probably a boot too.
4. Prepare for a Tow
Let’s say that you’re living your best Thelma and Louise life, and you’ve avoided that parking ticket for a good, long time. And, you’re feeling pretty good about it…until they tow your vehicle.
The downside doesn’t stop there. In some states, such as New York, not only can your car be towed but, if the fines are steep or far enough overdue, your car may be put up for auction.
This means you could lose your vehicle entirely!
It really puts into perspective how ditching those parking tickets just is not worth it.
5. Negative Impact to Credit Score
The state might not be the only one out to get you for a missed parking ticket.
Sometimes, they hand things over to debt collection agencies, which may chase you for payment. And debt collectors aren’t famed for their compassion or respect for personal liberties.
Prepare for persistent phone calls, letters, and even agents showing up at your home. If you value your privacy and peace of mind, you should probably pay or fight the ticket before these agencies get involved.
Let’s say you continue to test your luck. Well, what happens if you don’t pay a parking ticket from a private company?
Credit card companies and the bank are going to be involved when your credit score takes a serious hit. Your credit score can be negatively impacted by an outstanding parking ticket.
Given that you need a clean credit score to purchase, rent, and acquire everything from a car to an apartment to a business loan, paying a parking ticket seems like a small price to pay for the ability simply to live your life.
6. A Suspended License
A single parking ticket will not usually lead to a suspended license. For example, California passed a Failure to Pay Law in 2017 that prohibits suspending a license over the failure to pay a ticket alone.
A parking ticket, in combination with other, even minor traffic infractions, could very well provide the ammunition needed for a court to suspend your license. In 43 states, a suspension of your license can also lead to court debt, driving up the costs stemming from that initial parking ticket.
7. Insurance Rates and Parking Tickets
A parking ticket on its own will not increase your insurance rates. However, if you ignore them for long enough, or start racking up several unpaid tickets, your credit score may eventually be affected.
This alone can cause your car insurance to increase.
8. Your Registration Renewal won’t go through
Lines at the DMV are already long enough. You don’t want to do anything that will add to your wait time when it comes time to renew your license.
However, that is precisely what can happen if you have outstanding parking tickets. When it’s time to renew your registration, unpaid parking tickets can stand in your way until the fines have been settled.
9. Taxation Trouble
If you’ve made it this far thinking you’ve stuck it to Johnny Law, check yourself—because Uncle Sam is about to get involved.
Dodging parking tickets over a long period of time can lead to the city in which you committed the violation, asking that the fine be taken out of your tax refund.
The Parking Ticket Time Frame
The amount of time that has elapsed between a ticket’s issuance and payment can make a big difference in how much you will be forking over to dig yourself out of the mess. For example, in Los Angeles, payment of a ticket must be completed in no more than 21 days after the initial issuance or 14 days after the first overdue notice.
Failure to comply will, more than likely, result in late fees.
Five or more outstanding tickets can result in your car being booted or towed.
If you wish to contest the ticket in court, you must do so within those first 21 days or 14 days after the first mailed notice. Failure to do so can result in you being unable to contest the ticket at all.
If you’re a driver with a low income and cannot afford to pay upfront, you might qualify for an installment payment plan. According to the City of Los Angeles, you must enroll in under 60 days from the issuance of the ticket.
Fighting Parking Tickets
Let’s go back to that fateful day when you actually received the ticket in the first place. Maybe you genuinely feel like you shouldn’t have to pay the ticket for any number of reasons. Maybe you believe the parking ticket was wrongfully administered.
As demonstrated above, outright ditching a parking ticket just isn’t worth it. If you’re going to fight that parking ticket, you’ll need to do so in court.
Far too often, people feel that the court system is either too difficult to navigate or else unfairly stacked against them to make headway. Facing down the behemoth that is the justice system is a major reason people attempt to ditch parking tickets.
However, if you know what to do, you can mount a successful challenge to most parking tickets.
Among the elements you’ll want to look for when challenging a parking ticket include:
- Errors on the ticket
- Help from apps like Off the Record, which feature tools and information you can use to support your challenge
- Tips and tricks found in parking ticket help guides such as Beat That Parking Ticket
If you still can’t find any glaring errors to exploit, appeal to law enforcement directly if you genuinely have a good excuse—it’s worth a try!
Avoid Taking Chances
Look, nobody likes parking tickets—except, of course, politicians funding budgets with them.
However, the fact of the matter is that the consequences of dodging parking tickets can be far worse than the original fine.
Instead, face matters head-on with Off the Record and other online resources for fighting parking tickets legally and successfully.
The post What Happens If You don’t pay a Parking Ticket on Time? appeared first on DollarBreak.
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