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Ask The Parking Ticket Geek: What Happened To My 'Free' Sunday Parking?

By Mike Brockway | October 21, 2013 7:04am
 Mindy hugs a parking pay box in Lincoln Park. She may not have gotten a ticket Sunday if she'd fed it, too.
Mindy hugs a parking pay box in Lincoln Park. She may not have gotten a ticket Sunday if she'd fed it, too.
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The Expired Meter.com

Dear Geek,

On Sunday I parked on Halsted Street between Division and North Avenue.

As I was returning to my car, I noticed tickets on most of the cars and yes, there was one on mine. I'm a stickler for making sure I'm parked in nonrestricted areas and pay the meter, even if I'm going to be gone for 5 minutes.

The reason I didn't pay the meter yesterday is because it was Sunday. I thought all meters were free on Sunday. There should be a visible sign posted indicating parking must be paid on Sundays. Right?

What are my chances of getting this dismissed if I contest it?



Sorry Mindy, unfortunately there's no such thing as "free Sunday parking" in that part of Lincoln Park.

When Mayor Rahm Emanuel worked to make changes to former Mayor Daley's infamous and hated parking meter lease deal, he pushed hard to allow drivers to park for free at metered spaces on Sundays.

However, Emanuel's version of "free parking" did not include any Downtown parking meters or meters located in what's called the Central Business District — an area roughly bordered by Lake Michigan, Roosevelt Road, North Avenue and Halsted Street.

With all the ballyhoo surrounding Emanuel's "free Sunday meters," it's really not a surprise that many drivers assume they can park for free at any meter, and then are shocked when they discover a bright orange ticket on their windshield.

If you were parked at a meter just a few blocks north or west, the parking would have indeed been free.

It's always a good idea to check the meter after you park to make sure you don't have to pay.

The Geek

Hi Geek,

I've lived in Chicago my whole life and have only now experienced this.

I parked down a street with permit-only signs and got an envelope with no ticket inside.  When I search online, even though it's been a week, there is no current fee or ticket that I need to pay.

And I've received nothing in the mail either. What do I do?


That is very curious Art.

Here's the deal. If a ticket was written, even if it somehow didn't make it into the envelope and onto your windshield, the city will mail a Violation Notice to the registered owner of the vehicle.

Handwritten parking tickets are usually issued by police officers and take longer to make it into the city's database than the ones issued using handheld computers used by parking enforcement aides.

Sometimes it can take weeks, or even months, for a handwritten ticket to find its way into the city's system.

So sit tight and watch the mail. I would also continue to check the city's parking ticket search website.

And, if you're lucky, the ticket never shows up.

The Geek


Hey Parking Ticket Geek,

My friend was ticketed for placing his city sticker in the correct area on the windshield, but sideways, thus a vertical rectangle.

Is that ticketable offense?



Why did your "friend" place his city sticker on sideways? That wasn't very smart.

That's because the answer is yes — a vehicle owner can be ticketed for affixing a city sticker sideways on the car’s windshield. It's called "improper display."

I would advise your "friend" to carefully pull the sticker off the windshield and place it correctly onto the glass. These new stickers come off the glass pretty easily. If the sticker tears during removal, have your "friend" go to a Chicago City Clerk office to get a replacement. The sticker needs to be affixed properly on the lower corner of the passenger side of the windshield.

However, you can fight the ticket.

There are two possible city sticker violations. One is for improper display of a city sticker, which carries a $30 fine, or failure to display a city sticker, which is a $200 fine.

If it's a $30 ticket, your "friend" is probably out of luck. However, if it’s a $200 ticket, your "friend" can make the case that the sticker was purchased and displayed but was somehow affixed a little crooked. Bring in a photo of the new placement and that may do the trick in beating the ticket.

The Parking Ticket Geek

Got a parking ticket question for The Parking Ticket Geek, email your query to: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com.