Owning a car can be a great convenience. But that convenience does come with some drawbacks, including parking problems. It can be difficult to find a legal parking place, especially in crowded cities such as New York City. Over 11.7 million parking tickets were issued in the Big Apple alone during 2018. Parking tickets are a source of municipal revenue, but also of driver confusion, and there are many misconceptions about illegal parking. Here are some common parking ticket myths:
Myth: No matter who owns the car, the person who was driving it at the time is the one responsible for the parking ticket.
Fact: Legally, the owner of the vehicle is responsible. Even if the owner didn’t know someone else was using the vehicle (for example, if a family member borrowed the keys without permission), the owner still has to pay the ticket. The exception is if the vehicle was stolen. In that case, the owner needs to present a police report.
Myth: Receiving a parking ticket will cause the owner’s auto insurance rate to go up.
Fact: Insurance companies do not increase rates for parking tickets and some other minor violations. However, traffic tickets for more severe violations, such as driving under the influence, reckless driving, or driving with a suspended license, can absolutely cause rates to jump.
Myth: If the driver is standing right by the car, the parking officer can’t give him a ticket.
Fact: The car’s location is what matters, not the driver’s. Even if the driver is still sitting inside the car, if the car is parked illegally, it can be ticketed.
Myth: Illegal parking is not really a crime and could never result in jail time.
Fact: Some people would call anything against the law a crime, but the more precise term for a parking violation is “civil offense.” Civil offenses are legally very different from crimes such as reckless driving, burglary, assault, or grand larceny, but a parking ticket can still be a serious matter. Unpaid parking tickets can result in a judge issuing a bench warrant for the owner’s arrest. In addition, some states consider certain parking violations to be misdemeanor crimes, such as unauthorized parking in handicap spaces.
Myth: If I get into my car before it’s towed, the tow truck driver can’t tow it away, and he’ll have to unhook it.
Fact: While it’s true that a vehicle cannot legally be towed with someone inside, that doesn’t mean the owner – or the car – is off the hook. If the owner refuses to get out of the car, the tow truck driver can call the police. The police can forcibly remove the owner, who will then be facing additional charges besides just the parking issues.
Myth: Parking laws are basically the same everywhere.
Fact: Some parking regulations are similar from state to state. Parking in a handicap spot without the proper placard, plate, or permit is always illegal; however, the penalties for doing so can differ. Other laws, such as how far away you must park from a fire hydrant or intersection, can vary, even from city to city. Tickets are based on the laws in the area where the car currently is, not where it came from. Drivers need to be aware of the parking laws anywhere they go.
One solution to the problem of finding parking is to use public transportation. Often the cities with the most challenging parking situations, such as New York, San Francisco, or Chicago, also have robust public transportation systems. But when driving and parking are necessary, knowing the truth about parking tickets can go a long way toward reducing parking headaches.
Contact us today if you need help in fighting a traffic or parking ticket. We have over 25 years of experience fighting traffic tickets and helping people reinstate their license.