Getting a parking ticket can be stressful and, in some cases, costly. Although parking tickets generally won’t affect your car insurance premiums right away, they can lead to a rate increase in certain situations. Understanding the ins and outs of parking tickets and insurance can help you avoid higher premiums.

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When parking tickets affect insurance rates

Parking tickets are non-moving violations, which means they do not typically affect your car insurance rates — at least not directly. For example, you may get a parking ticket if you forget to feed the meter or park in the wrong area. Luckily, these tickets are generally not attached to your driver’s license, reported to your state’s DMV or disclosed to your auto insurer. However, if you don’t pay these types of tickets within the specified time frame, it may cause your insurance costs to increase.

Do parking tickets make insurance go up?

A parking ticket is not likely to make your car insurance premium go up, but unpaid parking tickets sent to collections could potentially affect your credit-based insurance score. Some car insurance companies will review your credit rating 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, Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan — laws ban car insurance companies from using credit scores when calculating rates. In that sense, unpaid parking tickets would likely have no effect on your auto 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 ignoring a ticket, 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, your 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 the ticket right away. The city may be able to freeze further late fees so you can catch up on paying outstanding fines.
  • Ask a family member or friend to lend you the money to pay for the ticket. 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 ticket.

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 certain times of the day or 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. Keep in mind 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 instead.

Other effects of parking tickets

While they generally do not affect car insurance rates, here’s what could happen if you don’t pay parking tickets:

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.

Late fees

The late fees on unpaid parking tickets can be expensive. If you fail to pay your citation on time, you may have to pay a hefty late fee — in some cases, double the amount of the original fine. Certain places 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.

Getting towed

If your car gets towed and impounded after a number of parking tickets, prepare to spend some serious money to get it back. For example, if your vehicle is impounded in New Orleans, you’d likely have to pay several fees to release your car, including your parking ticket(s), a storage fee of $19 per day (maximum of $500) and a towing fee of $161.25.

Frequently asked questions

    • 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.
    • Generally, a parking ticket is not a moving violation, so parking tickets aren’t likely to directly affect car insurance rates. Rather, auto insurance rates are calculated based on a number of different factors, including your driving record, location, vehicle make and model and coverage options, among other things.If your car insurance premium has increased, it may benefit you to shop around and get quotes from well-rated auto insurance providers. You may also want to consider asking your current or prospective car insurance providers if you qualify for any car insurance discounts.
    • If you receive a parking ticket that you don’t believe you’re responsible for, it may be helpful to contact the agency on the citation as soon as possible. There will typically be contact information listed on the ticket you receive, and it may benefit you to write a letter and explain why you’re contesting the ticket. If you do, be sure to include any evidence you have to support your claim, along with your contact information and the citation number.
    • Tickets for moving violations, such as speeding, running a red light and reckless driving, can lead to higher insurance premiums. If your car insurance goes up after getting one of these tickets, you may want to consider getting quotes from companies that are typically known to offer cheaper rates.
    • You may be able to check for unpaid parking tickets by contacting your city, county, local attorney general or parking ticket collection department.