What Happens if You Don’t Pay Parking Tickets?

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You finish your shopping and walk toward your car to pack the groceries away. As you approach your vehicle, you notice someone left a note on your windshield. It’s probably one of those menus for a Chinese restaurant, and you don’t pay any attention. After closing the trunk and getting behind the wheel, you flip the windshield wipers and grab the piece of paper stuck under the blades.

You were expecting a menu or a flyer for a local handyman. Unfortunately, it turns out it’s a parking ticket.

Your day took a turn for the worse, and now you’re in a bad mood.

Why wasn’t there a valid handicapped sign over the parking bay? There’s no-one around to query the ticket, and you feel your blood pressure start to rise.

This situation happens to everyone that drives. Sooner or later, we make a mistake, and the law punishes us.

Most of us feel so disgusted and disappointed at receiving a parking ticket that we choose not to pay the fine. However, not paying your parking tickets has serious consequences.

Traffic Tickets Vs. Parking Tickets

Before we start, you must understand the difference between traffic fines and parking tickets. Both are very different, and they have various repercussions with law enforcement if you decide not to pay your fine.

Traffic wardens issue parking tickets on behalf of the city. These individuals are not traffic cops, and they can’t arrest you for parking in the wrong place. All a traffic warden can do is issue you with a ticket. The warden is there to enforce the cities bylaws, and it’s their job to issue you with a fine. Parking fines don’t appear on your permanent driving record. You also can’t lose your driving license over acquiring too many parking tickets.

Many people try to argue with traffic wardens after receiving a parking ticket. These individuals have to deal with hostile people every day and hardened to your excuses. Before you attempt to argue and fight with the warden, rather take a deep breath instead. If you do have a chance to talk to them, be as nice as possible, and they might cut you a break.

However, traffic officers issue moving violations for speeding, reckless endangerment, and violating other traffic safety rules. Traffic tickets go on your permanent record, and if you receive too many, then the state may revoke your driving license.

Fines Increase if You Don’t Pay

When you receive a parking ticket, it comes with a due date for payment. It’s crucial that you don’t delay in sending the requested amount to the relevant city department. In most cases, the fine will have a deadline for payment of between 2-weeks to a month.

If you fail to pay on time, the traffic department will increase the outstanding amount of your fine. Non-payment of traffic tickets is a minor offense. However, the city takes these offenses seriously, and they will do everything within their means to get you to pay up what you owe.

For example, you receive a parking ticket in New York City. If you fail to pay by the due date, you could get a further $60 in penalties on top of what you already owe for the fine. The system does not forget your violation, and your case remains on the cities computer system until you pay.

If you fail to pay your NYC parking ticket within 100-days, then the city will charge you interest of 9-percent per annum until you pay the fine. Some states have harsher penalties than others. For example, if you fail to pay your fine on time in California, you could face a “civil assessment” that costs you $300.

Traffic Wardens May Boot Your Car

When you receive a parking ticket, your license plate goes onto the city’s system as an offender. Traffic cops and wardens have access to this database, and they may run your registration while you are away from your vehicle. If the officers discover that you have plenty of outstanding parking tickets, they may choose to “boot” your car.

The boot clamps to the wheel of your vehicle, and it consists of hardened steel. If you try to drive away with the boot attached to the wheel, you could risk damage to your car. You’ll need to visit the traffic department offices and settle your outstanding parking tickets. After paying, the department will issue a notice to the traffic warden, and they will remove the boot from your car.

Most city’s give citizens the benefit of the doubt. They will only boot your car wheel if you have two or more parking tickets outstanding. Officers may also boot your car, even if it is parked legally.

Wheel Clamp

Traffic Officers Could Impound Your Vehicle

Many people choose not to pay their parking tickets. Unfortunately, the law does not tolerate this type of behavior. If you have more than two parking tickets, and a traffic violation or two, then you run the risk of the city impounding your vehicle.

In New York, the city sells impounded cars at auction to cover outstanding parking and traffic tickets. If you fail to pay the amount owed to the city, they can sell your vehicle, and lose out on far more than a few hundred dollars that you would have had to spend on the fines.

Traffic officers may impound your vehicle at a routine traffic stop, 0or they might take it when you are parked legally and away from your car. If you return to your parking spot, and your car is gone, it might not be because of thieves.

You Eventually End Up in Court

In some states, such as Tennessee, parking tickets come with court dates. If you decide to admit guilt and pay the fine within the 15 days, then you don’t have to show up for your court date. However, if you fail to pay the fine, and don’t show up in court to defend yourself, then the judge could issue a warrant for your arrest.

As a result, if cops pull you over at a roadblock or traffic stop, they can arrest you and impound your vehicle. You’ll end up in court, where the judge may add additional charges to your fine, increasing the cost of your original citation.

Collection Agents May Chase You for Payment

If you fail to pay your parking tickets, the city often won’t alert you to your missed payment. The traffic department will not pursue you for payment forever. Eventually, they end up selling the debt to private collection agents. These agents are relentless, and they get all of your contact details from the traffic department.

You can expect these collection agents to call your cellphone and request payment. If you block the number, then they may call your place of work. If you still refuse to pay, they may physically send collection agents to your office or home.

The City May Garnish Your Tax Return

So, you think you are smart, and you’ve managed to avoid paying your parking tickets. Ducking the collection agents calls and avoiding court summons wasn’t as challenging as you think. Before you start basking in your pride, you need to understand that the situation is not over.

The city may request the IRS to garnish your tax return to pay for your outstanding parking tickets. Many people rely on their tax return to help them manage their budget. You could be in for a rude awakening when you look at your tax refund check.

Your Registration Renewal Won’t Go Through

The city may also collaborate with the department of motor vehicles to get you to pay your outstanding parking tickets. The DMV may refuse to renew your car’s registration until you pay your tickets.

The DMV may also suspend your registration before the allotted expiration date. Driving without registration can cost you points on your license and lead to further penalties.


Unpaid Fines May Impact Your Credit Score

We live in a world where we all rely on credit. If you’re thinking about buying a home or a new car, then lenders will review your credit score. Your FICO score gives lenders a view of your risk profile and what they should charge you for interest rates.

If you fail to pay your parking tickets, the city may contact the bureaus and ask they do place a collection notice on your credit report. A collection notice adversely affects your credit, and your FICO score will drop. This situation makes it challenging to acquire any form of credit, and you might end up with a higher interest rate on your mortgage.

Considering a mortgage lasts an average of 20-years, your unpaid parking tickets will end up costing you thousands of dollars in interest payments.

How to Erase Bad Credit

Read: How to Erase Debt on Your Credit Report in Under a Year

Your Insurance Rates Will Increase

When insurance companies qualify you for a policy, they check your credit score. If you have collection notices against your name for unpaid parking tickets – it may affect your insurance premium. If you have a bench warrant out for your arrest, you’ll find it challenging to secure any form of insurance.

How You Can Pay Your Parking Tickets

The city makes it as easy as possible for offenders to pay their parking tickets. You can visit the traffic departments offices in person and pay your fine, or you can choose to settle your tickets online. Some traffic departments still allow you to send a check in the mail, but almost all of them refuse payment over the phone.

What if You Want to Challenge the Offense?

If you feel that you didn’t break the law, and parked in a legal spot, you have the right to challenge the fine in court. In most states, the court date appears on the fine, and you’ll have to arrive at the courthouse and wait for the judge to call your case.

When challenging the offense, you’ll need to provide the court with evidence that proves your innocence. If you are not at fault, then take photos around your vehicle after you find the ticket. Look for any proof that you were unaware that you were violating the law. For instance, a shopping trolley covering the no parking sign. Maybe you had a medical emergency, and couldn’t find anywhere else to park.

Most states allow you to dispute the parking ticket within 30-days of receiving the fine. Should you choose to wait longer than 30-days, then penalties may apply to the original citation. The judge will listen to your case and make their decision based on the evidence you present.

Can You Fight a Ticket That’s Over 100-days Old?

If you don’t pay your parking tickets, then the court will issue a default judgment against your name. The vehicle owner must then produce a “Parking and Camera Violation Request for Hearing After Judgment” form so that they can protest the ticket. If the judge still refuses your request, then the total amount of fines and penalties are now due, and you’ll need to pay the outstanding amount.

If the judge does find you guilty, you have the right to appeal your case. You’ll need to file a Parking and Camera Violations Appeal Application. The law gives you 30-days to submit this form, and you’ll receive a response in the mail.

In Closing – Avoid Taking Chances

If you receive a parking ticket, do the right thing as a citizen, and pay the fine. While it hurts to shell out money to the city, it’s a better strategy than leaving your ticket unpaid.

Unpaid parking fines can cause you a headache further down the road. Avoid the hassle of dealing with additional penalties, officers impounding your car, and going to court – pay your fines and close the ordeal.

When you’re driving and late for an appointment or meeting, make sure you don’t park in an unauthorized spot.

Even if it takes you a few minutes to find suitable parking, it’s better than spending hundreds of dollars on parking fines. Utilize Google Maps new feature where the app shows you available, legal parking near your location.


Oliver Dale is Editor-in-Chief of MoneyCheck and founder of Kooc Media Ltd, A UK-Based Online Publishing company. A Technology Entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience in Investing and UK Business.His writing has been quoted by Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Investopedia, The New Yorker, Forbes, Techcrunch & More.He built Money Check to bring the highest level of education about personal finance to the general public with clear and unbiased

1 Comment

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    As of 2016, parking tickets cannot be reported on credit reports.

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