New York City Parking Rules and Hydrants

Fire Hydrant with Crosswalk
••• Bill Barfield/Moment/GettyImages

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It should be a no-brainer, but many drivers still park in front of a fire hydrant in New York City. Hydrants need to be accessible by firefighters when battling a blaze – parking in front of a hydrant for just a few minutes can not only result in a pricey ticket, but also in the loss of life.

A driver that is caught parking in front of a hydrant faces an expensive parking ticket. If they do not pay or challenge the ticket within 30 days of receiving it, they face increasing penalties and even the loss of their motor vehicle.

Laws About New York City Fire Hydrants

According to the New York City Department of Transportation (DoT), there are specific “no stopping zones” that drivers must steer clear of. They shall not stop, stand or park in front of these areas unless posted markings or signs, traffic control devices, or a law enforcement officer tells them otherwise. A hydrant falls in the no-stopping zone category.

Drivers must stay at least 15 feet from fire hydrants in New York City, unless otherwise directed by parking meters or signs. From sunrise to sunset, and if there is no other prohibition, a driver may stand with their vehicle next to a hydrant if they are in the driver’s seat at all times and ready to move the vehicle if they hear fire trucks approaching.

In that event, they must immediately remove the car. They must also remove it when law enforcement, fire department personnel, or another municipal department representative acting in an official capacity asks them to do so.

Cost of a NYC Parking Ticket

When a driver parks too close to a hydrant in New York City, they face a $115 ticket. The New York City Department of Finance requires drivers to pay this ticket within 30 days of its issuance or of getting a Notice of Liability date, even if the driver believes they are not guilty.

The driver can respond by paying the ticket to avoid penalties and interest, or the booting or loss of the vehicle, or they can challenge the ticket. If they disagree with the outcome of that challenge, the driver can appeal the decision within 30 days of the first hearing.

Fighting an NYC Fire Hydrant Parking Ticket

After their violation is processed with the Department of Finance, a driver who wishes to challenge a parking ticket in New York City can request a hearing online at NYCServ. They can also request a hearing by standard mail, but must do so within a reasonable amount of time or they will accumulate penalties. To do this, the driver must:

  • Return the citation with the reasons for the appeal checked on the back of the ticket.
  • Include a note explaining why they think they are not guilty and attach evidence if they have it.
  • Make copies of what they send to the Department of Finance and mail their request to the NYC Department of Finance, Hearings by Mail Unit, P.O. Box 29021, Cadman Plaza Station, Brooklyn, New York, 11202-9021.

Drivers can also request a hearing in person by visiting any Department of Finance Business Center. Walk-in hearings take place Monday through Friday during normal business hours. Locations can be found on the department’s website.

What if a New Yorker Does Not Pay or Appeal Ticket

Drivers who do not respond within 30 days of getting a ticket or a Notice of Liability face increasing penalties, which can be withdrawn from their tax refund. Not paying a ticket may negatively impact their credit score, and the ticket can be sent to a collection agency.

In addition, a NYC driver accruing substantial fines in New York parking tickets can see their vehicle booted or towed, and the state can sell the car if the tickets remain unpaid.

Documents Required for a Citation Hearing

When disputing a ticket, the driver must come to the hearing prepared. They will need to show specific documents when challenging their hydrant parking ticket, including driver’s license and car registration or title.

If a driver has evidence to support their claim they should show it. This can include:

  • Maps, drawings or diagrams to indicate where the car was when law enforcement issued the ticket.
  • Photo or video evidence to show the vehicle’s location and any parking signs, building locations or street names that may aid the driver’s case.
  • Witness statements.
  • Police reports, parking space or garage receipts, or bills from towing, repair or insurance companies.

How to Get Copies of Traffic Tickets in NYC

A ticket issued using a handheld computer is available within five business days, and handwritten tickets appear online within 10 to 14 business days. When parking tickets are no longer available online, drivers can request copies through the mail, along with a printout of any traffic ticket transactions.

If the driver has more than five unpaid tickets, they must visit a Finance Business Center in person and pay a $1 per ticket after the first five copies.

To request copies of tickets by mail, drivers must let the department know if they want the tickets organized by plate number, citation number, or by name and address and send the request to the NYC Department of Finance, Correspondence Unit, One Centre Street, 22nd Floor, New York, New York 10007.

Information to Include in the Request for Copies of Tickets

When sending the request, the driver should include their full name, current address, license plate number, state where their vehicle is registered, ticket numbers and the date of issuance.