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Ask The Parking Ticket Geek: What's the Best Way to Fight a Ticket?

By Mike Brockway | November 13, 2013 6:55am
 Andy leans against the hood of his car that clearly has a front license plate.
Andy leans against the hood of his car that clearly has a front license plate.
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The Expired Meter.com

Dear PTG,

I received a ticket for municipal code violation 9-76-160A (Rear and front license plates required).

But both plates were on the vehicle. I contested by mail and enclosed pictures showing both plates attached.

I was just notified in the mail that the ticket was upheld.

What more can I do at an appeal to the Circuit Court of Cook County? Is it worth it?


Andy: Unfortunately, this is an example of why I frown on contesting parking tickets by mail.

Because sometimes, even with grand-slam-type evidence to support your case, inexplicably, some tickets that should get dismissed, don't.

Data from the Department of Administrative Hearings proves that a vehicle owner's chances of beating a ticket at an in-person hearing are much higher than the chances of those who contest by mail.

Fighting your ticket in person is the way to go, as it allows you more freedom to explain your side of the story to the administrative law Judge and clear up any confusion in real time. Contesting by mail doesn't allow the judge to ask any follow-up questions.

If you want to appeal the judge's decision to the Cook County Circuit Court, you'd probably have a strong case. However, it's expensive to file ($135) and requires a lot of time and multiple court appearances.

If you prevail in your appeal, the judge will refund your filing fee.

But next time, make sure you fight your parking ticket in person.



My wife got a parking ticket on North Kingsbury Street on Oct. 18. She said that the 27th Ward crews in that area are often very slow to take down the orange street-cleaning signs, and that the street cleaning actually happened a week ago!

The 27th Ward street-cleaning schedule confirms this: Street cleaning happened on Oct. 11 and Oct. 15.

This kind of blows my mind. Do people give tickets on the basis of the orange signs alone? My wife says more than 25 cars got tickets that day! Shouldn't that be a sign that something isn't quite right? It pains me that the burden of disproving this ridiculousness lies with me.

Is the ticket and a copy of the street-cleaning schedule enough to contest this?


You definitely should fight this ticket Ryun.

Using the city's own street-cleaning schedule as evidence that no street cleaning was scheduled for that day is super smart. Using the city's own documentation against it is what I call "parking ticket jiujitsu." Print out the schedule and submit it as evidence.

I would also contact the 27th Ward service office, make it aware of the problem and see if someone at the office will write a letter on your behalf explaining the signs were left up erroneously.

At your hearing, or in your letter contesting this ticket, you also should ask the administrative law judge to look up the number of tickets that were issued around that time, date and location.

Most judges will dismiss a ticket if they see a suspiciously high number of cars being ticketed for street cleaning, as that's further proof there was some sort of sign snafu going on.

Fight it! You should win.

The Geek

Ticket Update

Back in September, Mike from Wicker Park was driving his father's car to pick his dad up after undergoing eye surgery. Mike had the car running in front of a fire hydrant, waiting as a nurse and his mother walked his dad to the car.

Little did they know a ticket writer was lurking nearby, and they received a ticket for parking in front of a hydrant in their mailbox a few weeks later.

We advised Mike to contest the ticket on the basis that he was not parked, but actually "standing," which means stopped with the engine running. Using the area around a fire hydrant to load and unload passengers is legal as long as the vehicle is standing and the driver is in or near the car to move it if necessary.

Mike updated us with the good news that the city dismissed his ticket.

"Hey Geek, My dad won his appeal of the fire hydrant violation. Thanks for your help," Mike said via email.

If you need parking ticket or driving advice, email The Parking Ticket Geek at: AskTheGeek@theexpiredmeter.com