A parking ticket can ruin anyone's day, and unpaid parking tickets carry serious consequences. In some cases, a warrant may be issued for your arrest if you ignore your parking tickets for a long enough period of time. Because parking tickets are issued when drivers aren't present, they are periodically issued in error or unfairly. In order to contest your parking ticket, you need to write a well-crafted letter appealing the citation.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Write a letter explaining why your parking ticket shouldn't be enforced. You'll need to provide a valid defense, such as payment or lack of signage.
Read the Ticket Carefully
Sometimes luck will be on your side and the person who issued a ticket made a critical error, such as noting the wrong vehicle make or model, or forgetting to print and sign their name.
If there is no such luck, the ticket should contain some key information about how to respond. The choices usually given are to pay it, contest it by a certain deadline or admit it with an explanation. There should also be contact information including where to write a letter to contest it.
Research who Gave you the Ticket
Determine which municipality issued the citation. Parking tickets may be issued by counties, cities and townships. Your parking ticket should state where the ticket was issued. In some cases, parking tickets may provide a customer service address or directions for appealing the ticket. If this information is not available, address your letter to the clerk of the court in the city or county the citation was issued. You can find contact information for the clerk of court by calling your local government office or by looking online for the website for the local magistrate court.
Research Relevant Laws
Research relevant local traffic laws. If you're not sure if your parking ticket was fair, you'll need to review the ordinances pertaining to parking in your area. Take note of specific codes so you can write about them in you letter. It can act as evidence for why you should not have gotten the ticket. If the wrong statute was cited, you can show that you weren't in violation of that statute. If the street sign wasn't clear, was blocked and not visible or is missing, take a photo to send in with your letter. If you actually paid the fee but there was a meter malfunction or your payment ticket wasn't showing on your dash, prepare evidence of the payment.
Write the Letter
Use simple, succinct language and clearly outline why you believe you should not have received the ticket. Avoid name-calling, rude language and blaming the person who issued the citation. Your letter should be as professional as possible. The letter should follow a standard business format and be typed. Once written, proofread before sending to catch any spelling or grammar mistakes. Then, send the letter through certified mail with return receipt requested to ensure that the recipient actually receives the letter. You should also send a copy through regular first class mail because some courts may not accept certified letters.
Things to Include in Your Letter
Include any documentation you have that proves your case. Copies of the local municipal code, photos of your car when you received the ticket and parking lot receipts help to document your case.
After the Letter
Call the clerk of court if you don't receive a response within 10 days. Some municipalities will schedule a hearing at which you can contest your parking ticket. You can represent yourself without a lawyer at this hearing. Be sure to take all documentation and any witnesses to the hearing.
If you are contesting numerous parking tickets, have large fines or there is a warrant out for your arrest, you need to hire an attorney.