Getting a Parking Ticket

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Parking ticket notices in Richmond

Sept 2011

Does anyone know if the city of Richmond sends out parking ticket notices in the mail? We made the mistake of letting an elderly neighbor borrow our car to do some of her shopping in Richmond, and her sister who was with her tells us that when they got back to the car there was something on the windshield that looked like a parking ticket. We asked our neighbor and she tells us it's not true (''there was nothing on the windshield''). We called Richmond police but they refused to tell us over the phone if our license plate had a ticket issued. How do we find out? If we don't get a notice in the mail is it safe to assume there was no ticket? With a small child and time and money pressures the last thing we need is this kind of nonsense to deal with. Nellie

For parking ticket notices in Richmond, contact the Bay Municipal Court, Traffic Division, at 510-374-3174. This information was posted on the city of Richmond website in the Police Department section. Or call the Richmond Police Department Code Enforcement Division at 510-621-1282. DC

Parking ticket late fees - City of Berkeley

June 2011

Here's an interesting situation: last summer, I got a parking ticket from the City of Berkeley for expired registration (the DMV's fault, not mine, but whatever). I paid the ticket, $25. Turns out I paid it late. Berkeley cashed my $25 check, though, and never informed me that the late payment was in any way insufficient. Now that it's time for me to renew my car registration, they're telling me I owe $108 because the ticket was paid late. It strikes me as really shady that they let the late penalties accumulate without informing me at any point that this was going on. I can't refuse to pay now without endangering my chances of getting my car registered, so I'm thinking of paying under protest and filing some kind of complaint, but it's tough because my situation doesn't fit into the standard administrative remedies (I'm not challenging the underlying violation, just the late penalties). Has anyone encountered a similar situation? Thanks! Disappointed in City of Berkeley

Totally am facing the same situation, though even more egregious than yours - but basically the same: City of Berkeley, they cashed the original check, never warned me about a late fee, now DMV trying to railroad us for $104 in ''late fees'' - I am trying to fight it. Contact me if you want to brainstorm. So aggravating and wrong! Mari

I received a notice for my car registration renewal a few years ago, which said I owed hundreds of dollars in ticket fees, for two parking tickets I had never received, because when I get a ticket I always pay it immediately. When I went downtown to speak with to the City of Berkeley, the person ahead of me was in the same boat, had severe poverty issues and really stood her ground, but the person working at the window seemed trained to be completely unsympathetic; there's no way out of paying. I have had situations where I parked for 5 minutes in a two hour zone and received a ticket, and wrote a letter with a witness affadavit- I've always had to pay the ticket no matter what. jo

Contesting a UC Berkeley Parking ticket

July 2010

Hi -- Does anyone have advice on fighting UC campus parking tickets? In my case, I simply failed/forgot to hang the permit tag from the mirror. A $75 mistake! thanks, MC

Sorry to be a downer, but my DH has gotten several of these tix and never been able to successfully get one forgiven. Under the exact same circumstances as you. It really sucks. $300 poorer.

To appeal a parking ticket from a UC lot, just follow the instructions on the ticket envelope. You can appeal by email. Include all the information related to your permit (type of permit, permit number). If this is the first time you forgot to display your permit, they will probably cancel the ticket. If you've forgotten more than once, they will charge you for failing to display the permit rather than parking without it. The fine is a little less, but still pretty steep now! forgot my permit, too

I did that once, and wrote a polite letter to explain how forgetful I had been, and the fee was waived (their response said that the fee could be waived one time as a courtesy). This was about four years ago, so I don't know if the policy has changed. Ms Forgetful

Hi MC, I feel ya, having experienced this two or three times in the last decade (until the lesson was laser-inscribed on my brain!). But did you do basic research? See :

''Starting Novemeber 23rd 2009, holders of a valid long term permit are entitled to one citation dismissal per fiscal year in the case of a forgotten or improperly displayed permit. In order to receive this courtesy dismissal you must submit an appeal through our established appeal process.'' Good luck! SPM

Parking Ticket & Handicap Placard Display

Jan 2010

A friend & I ate on Solano & he got a ticket for overtime parking, despite my placard being on the dashboard above the steering wheel. When he disputed the ticket because the placard was displayed he was told that not hanging it from the mirror makes it illegal. Nowhere in the placard documents or on the placard is this information given. So far a second appeal is underway: any advice?

If I had a ''nickel'' for each time an over-zealous Berkeley parking officer has ticketed our car/truck with my PERMANENT HANDICAP PLACARD hanging from the mirror of our car/truck, I'd be rich. Berkeley parking-ticket writers seem to be blind when it comes to handicap placards. Keep pointing-out to Berkeley employees that your handicap placard was displayed until your ticket is dismissed, but, next time hang your handicap placard from your mirror just to give Berkeley parking-ticket writers a chance ! Grumble, grumble, grumble, ...

Hang it on the mirror next time and pay the ticket. anon

UC Parking tickets - what's the deal?

Nov 2008

My husband paid to park in a UC lot one evening last week. He apparently parked in a Zipcar spot (although he never saw the sign), resulting in an $85 fine. What's the deal with UC parking tickets? Are they similar to those issued by cities? Is there any hope of getting it reduced? Gayle

I also parked in an 'undesignated' area in a UC parking lot (I have a permit). It was my first day on the job, and honestly thought it was ok until I got the ticket. I contested it while pleading innocence/ignorance but I think their response of upholding the fine is automatic. I paid the fine and went to the next level that involved an interview with a neutral party (an ex-Berkeley policeman, I think). I admitted my error but asked for a break and they reversed the decision. I received a full refund of the fine a few weeks later. I think if you tell them you didn't see the sign and be very remorseful and are prepared to take the time and effort to meet with them at the next level, you may have a chance. more careful where I park

My ticket was for parking without paying the parking fee. I was able to reduce the ticket to a much lesser fee by writing to the UC parking dept. and explaining that it was the first time I parked in a certain area and I didn't see the sign. (I didn't make this up. It was true.) I don't imagine you can do this multiple times... but it's worth a try once. Guy

I think if you take your explanation to the parking office and conduct your business there politely and respectfully, they may reduce the fine. I appealed a ticket there a few years ago for my parents who were from out of town and were confused by the parking policies. They graciously waved the fine and explained the policies. So it's worth a try. Just be nice

Parking ticket from private operator of parking lot

March 2008

Hi, I was ticketed at the B of A lot on Center Street - it's a private ticket, not a City ticket. Has anyone gotten one of these and not paid? What happened? About 15 years ago I got a similar - private - ticket in a lot in Walnut Creek, and I just ignored it and nothing happened. I'd like to do the same here, but want to know if anyone knows why I shouldn't. (And yes, I parked and went to Games of Berkeley at 6:30 on a Sunday night instead of just to the ATM. It irked to pay for the lot at that hour for ten minutes, so I didn't.) Thanks, Scofflaw? Scoffrule? Scott-free?

Don't pay it! I got one of these at Safeway on College about 6 months ago, didn't pay it, and haven't heard a word since. Non-payer

My advice is to pay the ticket. It is the only right thing to do. Anon Hi! I've gotten one of those at the BofA in the gourmet ghetto. I was actually banking at the ATM, but stopped for longer than the allowed time (5min. I think?) and chatted with the florist, for no more than 15 min. Anyways, got a ticket on a Sat. late afternoon...long story short, never paid it, seemed wrong to, never heard anything again. It's been over a year, it was from a private agency in SF. anon

Parking citations don't affect your driving record at the DMV but be aware that parking citations can affect your auto registration. Any agency authorized to issue parking citations can forward your parking citation to the DMV-auto registration unit and a hold can be placed on the vehicle registration. Additional (late) fees can be tacked on for a failure to pay. The registered owner of the vehicle will have this notation on their registration and any fees will be assessed to them... sometimes, there's a ''behind-the-scenes'' notation placed on the vehicle's registered owners drivers license as well. I'm not a gambling person, so I would just pay the parking ticket (or appeal if justified) rather than see what happens. Paying the ticket will not incur a point on the driving record, so it will not affect your insurance rate...if that's a concern. traffic court employee

I received a ticket in the BofA lot inBerkeley (across the street from Games of Berkeley) and I did not pay it, it was over 2 years ago and I haven't heard from them since. The ticket is issued from a private company not the city. anonymous

Relief for parking tickets + late fees

Nov 2007

Help! I received three parking tickets in a row immediately after my daughter was born, (did not move car for street cleaning), and then spaced for a number of months. Now they are sent to collection owing $500 on original 3 x $36 tickets. Collection agency tells me that only city has ability to provide some relief. Parking enforcement person told me on phone that there is no way to receive any relief, (and was very rude and dismissive). I wonder if anyone has any experience / suggestions. I am seeking to pay original ticket, and a penalty of some sort, just not over $100 on each ticket. Thanks for any suggestions. Rebecca

I just went through this. The city of berkeley imposes a HUGE fine on every little parking ticket - disgusting. I couldn't find any way around it and paid up. I hate those meter maids with all my heart.

Welcome to Berkeley. I've paid thousands of dollars for parking tickets. Why should you get off? you park, you pay, just like everyone else

I think you can still do community service to pay for parking tickets. You have to go to court and present your case to the judge. He/She will decide what the penalty is...sometimes they excuse it alltogether. Sometimes they insist you pay...but in the middle is communitiy service...picking up litter is one of the jobs...I did this YEARS ago. You have to decide if community service is worth your time ($10.00 per hour maybe?) orif you'd rather just pay the ticket...but it's worth going to court cuase it's very likely the tickets will be reduced. Good luck. former parking ticket delinquent

Parking ticket at private facility

March 2006

I recently got a parking ticket for an expired meter while shopping at Bay Street (the ticket was undeserved, but that's beside the point). I notice that the ticket was issued by a private company called Regional Parking, Inc. and not by the city - this is the first time I've ever heard of such a thing. My brother, who was with me at the time, said I should just ignore it, since it's a private company/private property and they have no enforcement ability (i.e., policy versus law). Does anyone have any experience or insight into this kind of thing? Thanks! --one more reason I hate Bay Street

I too got a private facility ticket, in Walnut Creek. I was pissed. I also didn't feel it was fair. Keep in mind, the cost to enforce (by harassing or getting collections) is not worth the $20 or so they're asking. These people basically work on shame - shaming you into not parking there, and shaming you into paying fees they arbitrarily decide to charge. So ignore it, just like your bro suggested. In my sitch, they had zero way to enforce it, and they couldn't put it on my credit report (I had entered into no agreement with them). They could, however, tow my car, so I used it as a warning to myself to not park there again, to avoid my car being towed. I never paid them a cent! No pay

I don't know the legal ins and outs of this issue, but I got a parking ticket at a private facility in Walnut Creek a couple years ago, issued by a private security company, and just ignored it and nothing ever came of it. Unless someone else here has a different experience, I'd say ignore it. What a scam

I recieved a ticket like that for parking in the Bank of America lot accross from the grand lake farmers market. I also figured that since it was a private company they wouldn't enforce so I never paid it and never had a problem, that was about three years ago. Alisa

Ticket on failed meter in Oakland

Jan 2006

I recieved a parking ticket in June of 2005 in Oakland, for which I requested an administrative review. I have now recieved notice that I must pay the ticket, along with a reason that does not apply to my situation. I parked at a meter behind the Oakland YMCA in a 2 hour zone. The meter took my coines and registered ''failed.'' I placed a note on the meter explaining that the coins did not register and returned to my car in just under one hour to find the meter reset to expired and a parking ticket for failing to have deposited coines. ( I did deposit coins. ) I went to the parking assistance center the same day and requested an administrative review for which I have just received a ''verdict.'' Basically, they said that it's illegal to park at a meter without depositing a sufficient amount of money. I have always been under the impression that parking at an out of order meter is okay for the time period allowed. Am I wrong? I feel like I'm being ripped off. Anyone have a positive outcome in the same situation? I can request a hearing by mail or in person, or simply pay the ticket. Ripped off in Oakland

I just had a similar situation, except that the meter didn't reset to expired--that part seems weird. I requested an administrative review, was told I had to pay, and requested an in-person hearing. At the time I requested the in-person hearing, I also made a Public Information request to get the repair record for the meter. They never sent me the info, and when I went to the review, the very nice man who does these things took less than 30 seconds to decide in my favor. I would say it was well well worth it to request the in-person hearing. Loves the Hearing Process

The same thing happened to me. My understanding of the law is the same as yours. . . that you don't have to feed a broken meter, but can not park for longer than the stated time period. I was told this by a parking ''enforcer.'' (meter maid??). Anyway, when I lost on administrative review, I opted for the hearing ''by mail.'' I figured I was right, but it wasn't worth my time to actually attend a hearing. I eventually won, with no explanation by the City. I say ''go for it.'' Why should they keep your $35? (or whatever it was).

I don't know if this will help because it's not exactly the same experience, but here's my story: I got a ticket Bancroft in Berkeley, which borders UC campus, even though the meter read ''failed'' and I returned in under the one-hour limit. I went to the office to appeal and met with a very caring, attentive woman at the traffic office. She asked me a lot of questions and believed me when I said I would be willing to pay any deserved ticket but that this ticket was not fair. She asked me to take pictures or ask around to the shopkeepers if they knew of any pattern of having trouble with that particular meter. (Of course I'm rolling my eyes privately at this point.) But I did go back and look & ask around. One of the questions she asked was to go back to the meter and check the meter number against the meter number that was written on the ticket. It turned out that the two didn't match! I was given a ticket number for a meter that was on the other side of the street almost a block down from where I parked. When I wrote in what I had found, the ticket was excused. Don't know if this helps you, but I'm glad I appealed. Wrongly ticketed

I forgot to mention two things when telling my story about being wrongly ticketed on Bancroft in Berkeley: (1) The woman at the traffic office said that they have a database that showed all of the broken meters and the time/date and could verify or disprove my claims, which may be how they knew I was telling the truth about the meter I had actually parked my car in front of. (2) When I returned to my car after making my appeal at the ticketing office, I had a legitimate parking ticket on my car! (There's a lesson here: Decide how much this really means to you, how much your time is worth, whether to cut your losses, etc.) Good luck! Wrongly ticketed

This happened to me in Oakland and in Berkeley and I fought the tickets and won. Parking tickets are a major source of revenue for the cities, and they don't make it easy to refute a ticket, but we cannot let the city get away with this. The more they do, the more it will happen to those of us who don't deserve it. Fight the Man

I've had this same problem in Oakland (e.g., I put money in the meter and it doesn't register) but if you read the meter it says that you can still receive a ticket when the meter is broken so I've never tested it and just moved my car. It's more of a pain to contest the ticket. It's a crazy policy and I'd be interested to hear if anyone has ever challenged it. annoyed parker

I wouldn't pay the ticket yet. I had a similar experience in Oakland (parked in a one hour zone, ticketed for insufficient deposit to park two hours). It took months for them to respond to my request for an administrative review but eventually the ticket/fine was waived. They are understaffed and it takes alot of time, but you will get a response, and I'll bet it will be waived. Lori

It occured to me in reading the story of the person whose meter number did not match the location of their car, that the problem might not have been the parking officer getting it wrong but that some other driver put their ticket on your car. Definitely check all the details of the ticket (car licenses etc.) before you pay it! anon

Parking ticket for meter that had not run out yet

Sept 2005

I got a parking ticket for an expired meter on College in Oakland a couple of days ago. I was actually at my van, with the sliding door open but bent down untangling the dog's leash on the sidewalk side. I suppose the meter man didn't see me. When I stood up, there he was writing me a ticket. I said ''Hey, I'm right here!''. He said ''It's too late I already started the ticket''. I glanced at the meter just then and it clicked to 0 minutes-just then! The officer completed the ticket handed it to me (as I stood there with my mouth hanging open) and drove off. I got into my car still in shock, looked at the meter, and as I was looking at it, it started flashing red!

I immediately called the number on the ticket and explained what had happened and asked what I could do. I was told I could appeal the ticket, but it would be my word against the officer's and they would believe him! I asked to talk to a supervisor of meter maids because this person obviously started the ticket before my meter even ran out thinking that there was no one around and I would not make it back. This officer knows what he did. He finished the ticket in a hurry, would not look at me when I talked to him and left in a rush. The supervisor said the officer has been on the force for 5 years and has never been complained about, and why would he have stopped if the meter wasn't flashing. I don't know! He stopped for another car? My car was really really dirty? Am I supposed to know that?

Bottom line, does he just get away with this? Do they all just get away with this because we are told clearly that we aren't going to win if we contest it?

Are there other people out there with this kind of experience? Is there anything I can do? Is there any chance I can win if I contest this ticket? Is there a way to make sure there is at least one complaint associated with this officer so if he does it again and gets caught it will be available to the supervisor and the next person might stand a chance? Any advice would be very appreciated. I am churning a lot of stomach acid over this one. made it to the meter before the meter maid

A similar thing happened to me in Berkeley, where I parked at a one hour zone, checked into my daughter's pediatrician office across the street and returned in 55 minutes to find the meter maid writing a ticket. When I confronted her, she was unpleasant, but she did say I could write a letter to the address on the ticket. That's what I did (using neutral, non-confrontational language) with all the evidence that I had actually parked for less than one hour, and the traffic department replied saying they excused the fine. Good luck anon

I received a parking ticket in Oakland that I also thought was unfair, and successfully appealed it. In my case, I parked at a meter that was broken and had a bag over it. There were no other parking places around. Luckily (so I thought) a parking officer was walking nearby, so I asked him if it was okay if I parked there. He said yes. When I returned less than 2 hours later (it was a 2-hour meter), I discovered that I had a ticket! I was just as upset as you are now. Here is what I did. I wrote a very simple ''Just the facts'' letter of appeal. I did not accuse the officer of wrongdoing or wonder about his competence or motivations. My first appeal was denied, but I sent the same letter for my second appeal. This was granted, on the grounds that I do not have a history of getting parking tickets. I encourage you to give it a try. It's frustrating, but sometimes it really does work Victorious

Same thing happened to me - officer was Pinkney (or something like that) I appealed it and am waiting for a decision but was not given much hope. This was on Shattuck in Berkeley across from Cafe Gratitude. Let me know what you find out. (apologies if this is a double post - I don't think I did it right last time so I had to do it again...I guess we'll find out!) Alyson

You asked if anyone had had this experience: I got a parking ticket on Lakeshore Ave while putting my two very young children in their carseats. The meter had not run out until we were actively getting into the car to leave the space. I was SHOCKED. I fumed and fumed. And then I paid the ticket. Now I put EXTRA money in my meter, even if it's just a nickel while I put the kids in the car. Heading the burbs to shop- Free parking

My husband wrote the parking authority a really whiny letter once about a broken meter, and they sent a letter back exempting us from paying the fine. May as well write to them and tell your story. Couldn't hurt. Otherwise I don't think you have much recourse now that they don't let you fight parking tickets in court. Appealing is just a stall to a guilty-by-mail verdict. If it makes you feel any better, I have a friend who encountered an unreasonable parking meter guy and while he wasn't looking threw the keys to his meter truck in the gutter thus ruining his day too. Ha ha. What goes around sometimes comes around. In any case, don't let this ruin your life -Whining worked once

It is frustrating, isn't it? I have had that happen to me too. Don't waste your time and go to court because if the cop shows up ,you lose. That is simply the way it is and that's part of the dues we pay for living in a city. One way to think about it is to realize how many times your meter did expire and you got away with it! I am sure, like all of us, you have been that lucky too. Just pay it and be thankful it is not a moving violation. anonymous

I've had a couple of ''their word against yours'' ticket incidents in Berkeley, too. I also met with the same lack of concern from people on the other end of the phone. In the end, I always decided to fight the ticket, and this is why: I bet you are not the first person, or the last, who has been prematurely ticketed by this person. So, if he has been on the force for 5 years and not had a complaint, it's probably because people figure they can't win so they don't fight. Just because his supervisor says there aren't any complaints against him doesn't mean he doesn't deserve to have any filed. If you can fight the ticket without causing yourself or your family extra hardship, I encourage you to go for it. And the next time someone calls with a similar complaint against this meter person, the supervisor won't be able to say there are no complaints against him. And since I know you want to know, I didn't win my (2) expired meter cases; the facts were similar to yours. But losing a fight feels so much better to me than giving up. Jay

I have gotten a few parking tickets that I've thought were unfair (not your situation though) and I've just paid them, considering them a donation to the city and a relief for me to have it behind me. I don't give them another thought - it's not worth the stress. In the grand scheme of things they are minor. Hopefully others will have advice about what to do to get justice if my ''save your mental health and just pay it'' approach isn't to your liking. anonymous

Berkeley is billing me for a parking ticket I never got

Dec 2004

I recently received a notice from the city of Berkeley claiming that I had a parking ticket in June that I had never paid and that I owed $110 now. I never recalled getting a ticket or receiving anything in the mail reminding me to pay a ticket, but they claim that I got a ticket at an expired meter, and read me the address. I realized that I did almost get a ticket back in June at that address, but made it to the meter in time, and the meter maid drove off without handing me anything (the policy in Berkeley is to tear up tickets under such circumstances, I thought). Now it looks like that ticket somehow made it into the computer system, but I never received it. I'm puzzled why I never received a postcard in the mail about it, especially since they claim they mailed postcards to me. I know I would have paid it right away if I had gotten a ticket--I'm really scrupulous about things like this. Do I have any choice but to pay this $110? It seems incredibly unfair, but it seems like a hopeless case if I try to contest this. Any words of advice would be very much appreciated. unfairly accused

I think you should pay it. A few months ago I got a ticket in Berkeley on Shattuck after putting a quarter in a broken meter. I called and wrote a letter (I, too, am fastidious about these things) and they still said I had to pay. The waiting period was also stressful. My advice is to pay and get it over with. Nancy

Why don't you send that very letter to the City of Berkeley Parking Citations department? I'm sure that you can find the address on the City of Berkleley website. I once wrote them when I got a ticket in error (non-functioning meter) and they wrote back telling me that the ticket was dismissed. Good luck. berkeley resident

I'll tell you now, the same thing happened to my husband last year---also Berkeley. No ticket, no postcards, and then all of a sudden, you owe us $250 dollars. (They claimed he parked in a bus zone). He fought it, but the long and the short of it was that they insisted he still pay the original ticket amount, but they waived some of the late fees. So, decide now how much time and *frustration* you're willing to deal with---you'll probably still pay the $30 or so that was the original ticket. Sorry. Jennifer

Contest the ticket. I've successfully contested 3 out of my last 4 tickets (all in Oakland). Basically you'll write a letter telling your side. Someone from the city parking division reads it and probably will deny your claim. Then you request a hearing. In the hearing, tell them what you wrote in your posting. You might not get off the hook for the full $110, but it might get reduced to the original ticket amount. So it can't hurt to contest the ticket. anon

Ticket for parking in the same spot twice - contest it?

Sept 2004

Could someone please advise me if I could contest my parking ticket. The situation is as follows: I was parked on a 2-hr-time-limit spot during a business conference. I had a short break in my schedule at the end of the first 2 hrs, and I ran a short errand with my car. I came back about 5 min later and the only parking spot available was the one I recently freed. I did not think twice and parked there - for another less than 2 hrs. When I came back, I had a parking ticket for $40. Could I contest this ticket or am I out of luck? I could refer them to the security camera of the conference center showing me coming out and back in. . . maria

When you left to run an errand, did you go anywhere that you got a receipt? Or interact with someone who would remember you and be willing to sign an affidavit that you were there? Good luck! anon.

Protest it! The law is on your side. The appeal-deciders tend to be fair and reasonable people. You may well not need camera proof, just details of what you did (and possibly a supporting letter from someone at your session). Nolo has quite a good book on fighting tickets. Public library has it, and Nolo sells its own books at a big discount at their company store on Parker in Berkeley.

--John, who got a $271 for stopping for 15 seconds near (not in) a handicapped zone at a BART station to let an elderly person out. My written appeal was rejected, but when I went to the in-person appeal in Martinez, the friendly judge just laughed and said, ''They did *that* to you!'' and threw it out.