The Cost of Illegal Parking in These US Cities Could Burn a Hole in Your Pocket6 min readReading Time: 5 minutes
Driving in several US cities has become a significant cause of stress – The increasing number of vehicles, traffic congestion and the rising number of road accidents. Add to it the stress of remembering a bunch of parking rules and signs and the even greater stress of paying hefty parking fines and you have the perfect recipe for mental cancer in your hands. Though the severity of parking fines in US cities differs from one to the other, the most expensive fines are collected in the larger cities.
Let’s take look at the top 3 most expensive US cities in terms of parking fines:
1. New York
As one of the most popular and the most densely populated cities of the United States, New York has its own parking woes and hence, parking violations. The city has often been the one to bring in the most in terms of parking fines in US cities owing to its huge size, overpopulation, an overabundance of parking signs and parking rules to remember. For example – In the year 2018, New York brought in $181.5 million in commercial parking fines out of which FedEx incurred around $14.9 million and UPS, a whopping $33.8 million.
Most of the parking tickets in New York easily cost over $100. For example – the city charges a $115 fine for parking or even stopping your vehicle in a spot where the parking signs or traffic control devices clearly tell you not to. $65 is charged for parking at an angle to the curb and for parking facing a pedestrian ramp; a shocking $165 is penalized.
Your best bet to avoid getting fined at New York City is to opt for mass transit, ride-sharing services, parking in lots and garages, be thoroughly conversant with the various parking laws and signs, or even use this app called Ticket Wiper. Developed by David Obstfeld, the app aims at helping the drivers of New York City avoid hefty parking fines by giving tips and knacks to get around parking tickets for obscure violations. The app is excellent at spotting out discrepancies on parking tickets and has helped drivers get their parking fines reduced or even eschewed altogether!
2. San Francisco
Finding a legal vacant parking spot in San Francisco is becoming an increasingly alarming problem. No wonder drivers often find themselves in either two-way zones, blue zones, double parking or blocking driveways. And the city’s parking laws show no mercy for such violations. According to a study conducted by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco in some of the highest parking fines in US cities. In California on average, around $124 million is collected as parking fines from San Francisco alone. Similar to New York, one of the main reasons behind such heavy costs for parking violations in San Francisco is the massive size of the city.
In the city, the highest parking fines are charged on those vehicles parked in blue zone spots reserved for differently-abled drivers. The fine for such violation is a whopping $866! Other violations related to the blue zone areas such as the false use of a placard are also fined at $866. The violation related to blue zone areas is comparatively very strict in San Francisco than other US cities.
For instance – Berkeley charges $280 for occupying a zone designated for differently-abled drivers and in Oakland, the fine for falsely using a placard is $513. Though these are in no way an inexpensive price to pay for violating parking rules, they certainly appear to be so when compared with San Francisco. The scenario is no different when it comes to fines for double parking. Where, on one hand, double parking is fined at $41 in Oakland; on the other, San Francisco charges $110 for the same.
Moreover, if you end up parking in a bus zone in the city of San Francisco, you will instantly be fined at $288! Blocking a wheelchair’s access ramp is also fined with the same amount. There are other fines associated with driving of which two are on the drivers’ alert list – Illegal driving in an HOV lane fined at $490 and violating traffic light rules fined also at $490.
The most common parking tickets people of San Francisco receive are the Curb Cut Ticket, the Three Percent Grade Ticket, The Parallel Parking Ticket, The Broken Meter Ticket, and The 72-hour Ticket.
Such high driving and parking fines are charged to keep drivers’ road behaviors under check. Drivers would try to be more aware of parking laws, streets, and parking signs in an attempt to avoid earning a trip to Ticket City.
When it comes to parking violations, the windy city of Chicago has no mercy to offer either. In fact, many have even gone into bankruptcy due to parking tickets! Among the most strictly prohibited practices of the city include blocking a handicap ramp or feeding the parking meter in a zone meant for two-hour parking. You can be charged a fine as high as $150 for parking or even standing in a zone meant for bicycles and if you end up doing the same in a zone designated for differently-abled drivers, you may be charged a whopping $200!
And for those unable to pay parking fines for whatever reasons (mostly the reasons are genuine lack of money), the fines simply keep on piling up and the city even collects a 22% collection fee. So, for example, if you get a parking ticket for $75 and you’re unable to pay immediately due to lack of money, the fine will keep on increasing with time and add to it the 22% collection fee and you could end up with a fine of around $200 at your hands!
In light of these issues, the city’s Mayor, Lori Lightfoot is planning to bring about changes in the ticketing policies to help low-income drivers who end up losing their cars due to failure to pay parking tickets on time. The plan includes granting more time to drivers facing financial hardships, stopping the practice of issuing multiple tickets on the same day for vehicle sticker violations and the practice of doubling parking fines after 83 days, bringing the practice of suspending drivers’ license for non-moving violations to an end, among others.
The best thing you and any other driver can do is avoid ever getting a parking ticket, especially in one of the cities mentioned above by staying aware of the parking rules and signs. Failing that, the next best thing to do is to pay the parking fine on time as there could be serious repercussions otherwise – Fines increase if you fail to pay on time, traffic wardens may boot your car or impound your vehicle, you could end up in court, your tax return may be garnished, your credit score will suffer, your insurance rates will rise, and much more.
Hence, it is never wise to skip paying parking fines on time, especially when it’s in your power to make timely payments.