Sometimes you’ll think you have an airtight case to dispute a ticket, but despite your evidence, you’re found guilty and have to pay. What happened?
The fact is that in New York City, traffic court justices have wide-ranging authority over your case. Some experts have commented that your case can depend “on what the judge had for breakfast.” Here are some of the most common reasons why a slam-dunk dispute may still be found guilty:
I had a photo that I was parked legally!
This is probably the most commonly believed myth about NYC parking tickets, and it’s easy to see why. If you have a photo to show you were parked correctly at the time, or that your ticket was written incorrectly, you’d think the judge would be happy to dismiss the violation.
You’d be wrong. In order for the court to accept your photo as evidence, it must include in the photo — proof of the precise time, date, and location where it was taken. Because it’s so easy to move your car after receiving a ticket, justices will usually ignore this kind of evidence.
I had a permit to park there!
NYC parking placards and special permits typically have very specific authorizations, and many violations can be issued legally if the permit does not exempt you from a parking rule covering that location.
I was in the car and the agent didn’t give me a warning before writing the ticket!
Despite what you might have heard, ticket agents don’t care when you move from an illegal parking spot. (Often times, they’ll hope you stay parked there longer, so they can write you an additional ticket!) If you’re sitting or sleeping in your car while parked illegally, traffic agents are all too happy to scan your registration and write you a ticket while you wait. There’s absolutely no requirement for them to talk to you before writing the ticket.
Nobody else who was parked there got a ticket!
We’ve all had that moment of anger and frustration when we return to our cars and spot that little orange envelope. But what adds insult to injury is when you look down the block, and nobody else has been ticketed. It doesn’t seem fair, and you start to wonder if someone was just trying to reach their quota for writing tickets.
It’s not impossible, but what’s more likely is that those other cars were parked legally, and you were not. The arrows and signs marking parking and no-parking zones are often angled in a confusing way, and it can be hard to tell exactly where is ‘safe.’ When parking is scarce, we often don’t pay close enough attention to why we found the last open spot, and ticket agents can swoop in. But there’s no rule that says they have to ticket everyone around you.
The same agent keeps giving me the same ticket over and over, isn’t that harassment?
Agents typically have a “beat” that they cover while watching for illegally parked cars, meaning that if you get tickets in the same location, they may often be issued by the same officer(s) each time.
If you find yourself getting ticketed for the same violation in the same location multiple times, the best solution is to find a different place to park.