How Do You Contest a Parking Ticket?

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If you own (or borrow) a car at any point during your adult life, there is a very strong chance that you will be ticketed for some sort of parking violation. Fines depend on where you live and the discretion of the parking enforcement officer writing the ticket, but no matter the amount, know that you have the right to contest it. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do so.

First things first: You need to ask yourself whether you deserved the ticket—and answer honestly. Being in a rush and ignoring the rules is not a valid argument for fighting the fine. If you do have a legitimate case (more on what constitutes a legitimate case below), you can request a hearing or administrative review of the citation.

Some cities offer ticketed persons the ability to send requests online, in the mail, or in person. The amount of time you have to make such a request varies by city; in New York City, for example, you have 30 days to submit a request for a review, and in Los Angeles you have 21 days.

Tickets can be contested for several reasons, including missing information on the ticket itself, broken meters, or obstructed or missing signage where you were parked. Remember that the person reading your request was probably not present when the ticket was issued, so be thorough yet concise in your explanation of the situation and provide photos taken at the scene as evidence to support your claim.

If things don't go your way at the hearing, you may still have options. In Los Angeles, for example, you can take your case to Superior Court for an appeal. You have 30 days from the hearing officer's decision to make your appeal in person. There is often a fee to do so, but fees are reimbursed if you win.