Parking violations cost Americans an average of $25 to $200, according to a Drexel University Central Business District Public Parking Survey of data from 107 U.S. cities. If you fail to pay your tickets on time, late fees could stack up or your vehicle could be towed or impounded. Typically, parking tickets do not affect how much you pay for car insurance. However, be aware that some unpaid parking tickets may affect your premium.
How much you have to pay for your parking ticket will likely be written in the municipal code of the city, village, town or county where you were ticketed. If you recently received a parking ticket, you may be unsure how to proceed. With that in mind, Bankrate’s editorial team put together this guide to help you navigate your violation and the costs associated with it.
When parking tickets affect insurance rates
Parking tickets do not typically affect your auto insurance rates directly. A parking ticket is a non-moving violation. For example, forgetting to feed the meter is not attached to your driver’s license or reported to the state’s DMV or your auto insurer.
Even if you tell your insurer about your parking tickets, your insurance company would not use the information to decide if you are more likely to get into a car accident or file a car insurance claim.
Do parking tickets raise insurance in any way?
A parking ticket likely will not raise your auto insurance. However, unpaid parking tickets sent to collections could potentially affect your credit-based insurance score. Some car insurance companies will review your credit-based insurance score to decide whether to insure you, and to determine the cost of your car insurance.
That means unpaid parking tickets could affect your premium. However, in some states such as California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan, car insurance companies are not allowed to use your credit score as one of the factors that determine the cost of your car insurance. In that case, unpaid parking tickets would have no effect on your vehicle insurance premiums.
How to avoid letting parking tickets increase insurance rates
If you get a parking ticket, it is typically in your best interest to handle the issue right away. If you delay paying your ticket, you could accrue late fees or even risk the city impounding your vehicle.
Instead of avoiding paying your parking ticket, depending on your circumstances, consider these options:
- Send a letter in writing to the municipality as soon as possible if you feel the ticket was a mistake, explaining why you feel the ticket was unwarranted under the circumstances. Attach a copy of the ticket, contact information and supporting evidence, such as pictures of the broken meter or of the partially covered or damaged “no parking” sign.
- Talk to the city or county about a payment plan or other arrangements if you are unable to pay it right away. The city may be able to freeze further late fees so you can catch up on paying your outstanding fines.
- Ask family to lend you the money to pay off the tickets. You can then pay your family back without worrying about more late fees and collections.
- Ask your employer for an advance on your paycheck to pay your parking tickets.
How to prevent parking tickets
The best way to prevent parking tickets is by being careful of where you park. Scan nearby signs to ensure you are allowed to park in the area. Some areas have time limits or only allow parking during times of the day or during specific days of the week.
If you are parking in a metered area, bring plenty of change and make sure to take note of how much time you have paid to park. A good way to remember is by setting a timer on your smartphone to remind you about your parking. When setting an alarm, you may want to give yourself a few extra minutes to make your way back to your car or add more change to the meter.
If you park in a spot with a broken parking meter, you may have a hard time proving to the local parking official that the meter was faulty. In this case, you might want to consider parking elsewhere if possible.
Lastly, if you receive regular parking citations at home or near work, you could consider making alternative arrangements, such as renting a parking space in a garage, asking your employer for parking assistance, or taking public transportation and leaving your vehicle parked safely elsewhere.
Other effects of parking tickets
While parking tickets generally do not affect auto insurance rates, ignoring them could lead to bigger inconveniences, such as:
A boot on your tire
Some municipalities may place a boot on your vehicle’s tire to disable it until the tickets are paid. On top of paying for the ticket, you are responsible for paying someone to remove the boot, which can cost as much as $136 in major metro areas like New York City.
The late fees on unpaid parking tickets can be expensive. If you fail to pay your citation on time, fees may be increased significantly to double the original fine or more. Some areas have legislated limits on how much municipalities can charge in late fees, but you may not want to risk accruing past-due charges on your violations.
If your car gets towed and impounded for a number of parking tickets, prepare to spend some serious money to get it back. NBC 7 in San Diego ran an exposé on how much people were charged to get their vehicle released after unpaid parking tickets. They found that in 2019, some people paid between $2,733 and $5,055 to get their vehicles released. Even worse, the city sold 1,452 of the 4,683 vehicles it towed for unpaid tickets.
Frequently asked questions
Do parking tickets affect your license?
Parking tickets will not affect the status of your driver’s license — as long as you pay them. However, if you fail to pay your parking violations, the DMV could suspend your license or stop you from renewing it. Depending on how many unpaid parking tickets you have, you may not even be able to renew your vehicle registration.
What other factors affect insurance rates?
Getting a parking ticket is not a moving violation and therefore, likely will not affect your auto insurance rate directly. Moving violation tickets such as speeding or running a red light are typically much more likely to affect your auto insurance premium. However, many of the best car insurance companies still offer cheap car insurance for drivers with points on their licenses. You may also qualify for discounts that could lower your insurance premium.
What if the parking ticket I got was wrong?
If you believe the parking ticket you received was incorrect, follow the instructions on the citation to write a letter explaining why you are contesting the infraction. Be sure to include your contact information, the citation number and any evidence to support your claim.