What Happens if You Don't Pay a Parking Ticket

By Teo Spengler - Updated April 23, 2018
Parking Ticket On Car

Have you ever dreamed of investing a couple hundred bucks on a random stock and having it double in value in a few weeks, then double again, and keep going up every time you look at it? The only thing guaranteed to increase that way is an unpaid parking ticket. If you pay right away, maybe you are out $35, but a few months later, it's sure to be far more. A full year later? The sky's the limit. You also may have trouble registering your car or renewing your license. Or, the car may get booted, impounded and even sold.

Tip

If you get a parking ticket and you don't pay it, the amount you owe will go up faster than Jack's beanstalk, and when it comes time to renew your car registration, you'll have to pay your parking fines first.

What Happens if You Don't Pay a Parking Ticket

What happens if you don't pay a parking ticket? Nothing good. Toss that ticket in the glove compartment with the others, and, slowly but surely, like thunder clouds rolling in, bad things begin to happen.

First, the parking fine goes up and not in a shy way. In a short time, the fine will have doubled, and it doesn't stop the ineluctable upward move. You won't be able to renew your automobile registration or your license until you pay off the big bucks you now owe. While your car won't be booted for one ticket, a handful of unpaid tickets will do it, and if you maintain your "just say no" position, it will be towed, impounded and ultimately sold. The debt may be reported to the credit agencies, and there goes your prospective home loan. In short, it may be your best course to dig deep into your piggy bank and pay up immediately.

Can You Get an Extension on a Parking Ticket?

If you are hoping for an extension to give you more time to pay your parking ticket, keep your fingers crossed. Some jurisdictions do not grant any extensions, like Los Angeles. However, others do. In New York City, you can work out a payment plan with the city if you owe $350 or more in parking tickets.

Can Parking Tickets Go on Your Credit Report?

Yes, unpaid parking tickets can go on your credit report, and quicker than you might think. In Florida's Miami-Dade County, parking tickets left unpaid for more than 90 days are reported to an outside collection/credit reporting agency. The matter goes on your credit report and, to add salt to the wound, you must pay the original fine and late penalties, plus an additional 40 percent of the total for collections.

How Much Money is a Parking Ticket?

Of course, municipalities differ on how much they charge for parking tickets, as well as the fact that tickets for expired meters will be different amounts than tickets for parking in a handicapped vehicle slot, a bus zone or by a fire hydrant. But they are almost always more than it seems they should be.

In Los Angeles, the ticket you will get if your meter expires is a whopping $65. If you do not pay that fine within 21 days, it will nearly double. Get five tickets and ignore them and they will put a boot on your car.

In Miami-Dade County, a ticket for improperly parking in a disabled spot is $196. In Cleveland, expired meter tickets are $25 or $50 during rush hour. Parking in a handicap space is $250.

About the Author

Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.

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