Though handicap parking laws vary from state to state, contesting a handicap parking ticket usually involves notifying the city clerk's office of a plea of not guilty or entering a request for a court hearing on or before the date the fine is due and pleading the case in front of a judge. Penalties for parking tickets also vary greatly by state. Some states impose only a minor fine while others impose jail time penalties as well. For this reason, knowing the prospective penalty for a handicap parking violation is crucial when deciding whether to fight the ticket in court.
It is also important to consider the prospective handicap parking penalties when deciding whether to retain the services of an attorney. In many circumstances, the expense of an attorney may exceed the expense of paying the initial fine. Successful defenses for handicap parking tickets, depending on the state, may include forgetting a handicap placard, failing to notice a handicap spot due to improper or poor signage or being sited for not having a valid handicap placard registered to a vehicle even though an individual who does have a valid placard is being transported in it. Rare instances of parking in a handicap space due to extreme emergency are also sometimes successful court defenses.