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Ask The Parking Ticket Geek: I Got a Ticket While I Was Paying to Park

By Mike Brockway | December 24, 2013 8:21am
 Billy stands next to the parking meter pay box on Damen Avenue in Wicker Park where he was paying to park while his car was getting ticketed.
Billy stands next to the parking meter pay box on Damen Avenue in Wicker Park where he was paying to park while his car was getting ticketed.
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The Expired Meter.com

Mr. Parking Meter guy,

This morning I parked my car at Damen off North Avenue to get a cup of coffee before heading to work.

I parked my car and walked almost a block to the parking meter box to see two people ahead of me paying to park. I patiently waited in the frigid cold for about two minutes before my turn came up to pay. I put in 25 cents to pay for 10 minutes, got my receipt, walked to my car and BOOM: orange ticket on my car!

The parking ticket was issued at 9:31 a.m. but my parking meter receipt says 9:33.

Is this legal? how can they get away with this?



While these fancy-schmancy, new-fangled pay-and-display parking meter units are generally an improvement over the old-school, single-head parking meters, your situation is one of the few drawbacks.

It's not uncommon for drivers to get ticketed while trying to pay the meter if a ticket writer doesn't see you walking over to the pay box.

But you can fight your ticket on the basis of one of the benefits of the new meter boxes — the time stamp on your receipt.

Use your meter receipt, with its time stamp showing you were paying the meter essentially the same time as the ticket was being issued, as evidence at your parking-ticket hearing.

This evidence backs up your story and a reasonable Administrative Law Judge should dismiss your ticket.

The Geek

P.S. It's always a good idea to keep an eye out for ticket writers when paying for parking. If you see one nearby, wave them down so they know they shouldn't ticket you.

Hi Mr. Geek,

I have a guest staying with me for a few days, there's Residential Permit Parking on our street and this week he used the green residential stickers for his windshield for three nights. This morning, he received a $75 ticket. 

Last night there was a snowstorm and we are thinking the sticker fell off from moisture. He found it on the dash. I have been consistently using these stickers every night without problem and now I'm pretty embarrassed but my friend won't let me pay the ticket. 

Is there any way a resident can fight this ticket? My friend arrived after the snow stopped, so there was no snow blocking the windshield. Surely the officer could see the sticker had simply fallen off?

I hope you can help me, Mr. Geek.


I think there's a good chance you can fight and beat this ticket, Mariana.

If drivers fill out a guest pass to allow them to legally park in a Residential Permit Parking zone, and it accidentally falls of the windshield due to moisture or cold, they should not be held accountable for the violation.

This happened to me one winter night when the city was experiencing a brutal sub-zero cold snap.  The guest pass didn't stick to my frozen windshield and we were ticketed.

I took a photo of the guest pass on the dashboard then brought the photo and the guest pass to the ticket hearing. As I explained the situation, I presented the Administrative Law Judge with the photo, the guest pass and a weather report from that night.

The judge took less than 30 seconds to dismiss the ticket.

I'm confident if you use this strategy you'll win the day.

The Geek


I was inching forward at a red-light camera intersection and the light turned red.

At that point I know my car’s front tires were past the line, but I don’t think my back tires were. While the light was red, I never saw the camera flash.

But when the green arrow came on I started to turn and saw a bright white flash coming from the lights to my left for the street running perpendicular to me. I don’t see how that flash was for me. Any thoughts?


Don't sweat the flash Chris:

If the camera flash came from your left, that was probably for a car going through the red light from the other direction. Every red-light camera in Chicago shoots a combination of photos and video of red-light violators from behind and right of the vehicle.

From your description, it sounds like you’re going to be OK — in other words, the mailman won't be bringing you an expensive red-light camera ticket in the mail.

The Geek

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