Parking citation

Parking violation

A parking violation, parking citation, notice of illegal parking or parking ticket (depending on the jurisdiction) is a notice of monetary penalty issued for parking a motor vehicle in a restricted place or for parking in an unauthorized manner. Such offenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Parking in a prohibited space such as a bus stop or in front of a fire hydrant or a driveway or a garage entrance.
  • Parking on a sidewalk (unless specifically allowed by signs)
  • Parking in or too close to a street crossing, railroad crossing or crosswalk.
  • Double parking
  • Parking at a parking meter without paying, or for longer than the paid time.
  • Parking in a handicapped zone without a handicapped permit (the fines for these offenses can be very severe, in some case worse than the penalty for drunk driving).
  • Parking with expired or missing license plates, parking without proper vehicle inspection decal, parking without a zone permit in places where parking severely impacted, although citations for inspection violations are under question, and have already been ruled unlawful in Virginia by the Virginia Supreme Court, because the vehicle is not being "operated".
  • Parking without special permit, where one is needed (like a parking for employees of a company)
  • Parking with the parking permit or payment receipt not visible in the prescribed way, like upside down.
  • Parking on certain streets in a snow emergency when streets need to be plowed of snow.
  • Parking for longer than the maximum time, often that is 24 hours.
  • Parking facing against the direction of traffic (considered confusing to moving drivers, especially at night)
  • Parking outside marked squares, for example angle parking where only parallel parking is allowed.

In 1926 American merchants listed downtown traffic congestion as their most serious difficulty. Unenforced curbside parking and lack of off-street parking facilities were listed as the primary problems. Customers went where they could park.

During the great depression city revenues dwindled. With parking meters, however, a new source of municipal revenue was found. Not only did the nickels paid in by parkers accumulate, but so did the fines imposed for over parking. By 1944, American cities were generating some $10 million annually from parking meters alone. Soon after came meter maids, who were paid less than police officers, to increase city revenues. Complex parking rules, restrictions and regulations are now an integral part of modern life and landscape.

Typically a ticket is placed on a vehicle when the owner or driver is not present. There is no place for a signature, and in California the registered owner cannot be charged with a misdemeanor or other criminal offense for ignoring a ticket. A letter will usually be sent prior to any punitive action. Most jurisdictions, however, will have sanctions such as refusal to allow renewal of license plates if the owner of the vehicle has unpaid parking tickets. In some jurisdictions, such as New York City, a vehicle may be towed if it has overdue parking fines exceeding a specified balance. In many jurisdictions, such as Boston, vehicles with numerous outstanding parking citations are subject to booting.

In Bethesda, Maryland, parking violations on restaurant row (Fridays and Saturdays) from 6 PM to 10 PM is a $50 fine. The reason is to clear the street for valet parking.

Parking violations are going up all over the United States to generate additional revenues: Boston $13 million

In Europe, parking tickets are also heavily used. In Sweden, parking violations on street are considered traffic crimes with a fine. If the fine is not objected or paid within a specified time, the Swedish Enforcement Administration will claim money from bank accounts or other assets, relatively fast. The owner will be noted as a bad payer, and will not get a loan or a new rental apartment etc for three years. According to statistics from Stockholm the cars with the highest number of parking violations (weighted for number of cars) is Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Lexus. The greatest arrogance is found in Mercedes owners who are in the top of parking in handicap spaces. According to Professor Gunnar Aronsson at the department for psychology at Stockholm university it is probably due to the owners being well-off and thinking that their time is more important. That they consider themselves to be above other people. According to Jan Prestberg at the traffic office in Stockholm the fines are low enough to be ignored by richer people.

Foreign-registered vehicles can in Europe in reality not be fined. This is partly because it is too much work to find the owner in a foreign country, but mainly because it is not legally possible to claim money from a foreign resident person if they don't pay voluntarily. The European Union is introducing legislation into all member countries to collect fines across borders. In some cities, like London, this has been solved by locking one wheel of a falsely parked vehicle. The driver has to pay to be able to drive.


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