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Ask the Parking Ticket Geek: Cited at the Snow-Covered Hydrant

By Mike Brockway | February 17, 2014 6:52am | Updated on February 17, 2014 7:30am
 Where's the fire hydrant? Katie points out the fire hydrant covered with snow where she was issued a parking ticket.
Where's the fire hydrant? Katie points out the fire hydrant covered with snow where she was issued a parking ticket.
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The Expired Meter.com

Hey Geek,

I received a ticket for blocking a fire hydrant.

But I parked there one evening because the snow was so high that the hydrant and the yellow curb were not visible.

Is there a way to contest this?


Most of us are exasperated with the tremendous amount of snow in the city this winter, Katie.

But would you have ever thought that in this instance, the snow actually works to your advantage in fighting this parking ticket?

If drivers can't see a fire hydrant because it's buried under a ton of snow, they can't be expected to know they can't park there.

Take photos of the snow-covered hydrant to use as evidence at your hearing. Simply use the photos to explain why you mistakenly parked in front of the hydrant. Because, of course, you would never park in front of a hydrant if you knew it was there.

If you request an in-person hearing (which I highly recommend) it may take weeks to even months before your hearing date is scheduled. So make sure you bring in a newspaper or some documentation to remind the administrative law judge that the date of the ticket was just after after the city got hammered with all that snow.

This should be an easy win for you.

The Geek

Parking Ticket Geek,

What happens when you stop in the intersection just past the white stop bar — will you still get a red-light camera ticket?

My husband was approaching a yellow light and the light turned red just before he touched the white bar, but he came to a complete stop. But the camera flashes went crazy!

He did not run the red light and he waited for the light to turn green before he turned right.

But he was past the stop bar and in the crosswalk when he stopped. Can the camera get you for being in the crosswalk as well as running a red light?


I wouldn't sweat this Annette.

From my conversations with the Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago does not issue red-light camera tickets when a car edges past the stop bar — as long as it stops and does not actually blow through the red light.

The technicians reviewing videos and photos from potential red-light camera tickets will see that the vehicle stopped and didn't go through the intersection when the light was red.

In this instance, the video from the camera would actually exonerate your husband if somehow a ticket were issued.

Also, as an FYI, the city won't issue you a ticket if the cameras photograph a motorist who stops in the crosswalk.

The Parking Ticket Geek

Ticket Advice Update

A few months ago, we featured a question from Mindy, who parked at a meter on a Sunday and assumed she could park for free. A few months earlier Mayor Rahm Emanuel had negotiated changes to the meter lease deal which allowed free parking at meters in most of the city but not in the Central Business District where Mindy had parked.

The Geek told Mindy she didn't have a leg to stand on if she wanted to contest the ticket.

Luckily, Mindy was not dissuaded and decided to fight the ticket anyway. And guess what? She won! Great job Mindy!

Hi Geek,

I just wanted to let you know that they dismissed my ticket!

I had contested by mail and cited a Wikipedia definition of what it considers the Central Business District, and a photo of my car.

My story had a happy ending.  Yay!!


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