Written by Gregory Monte.
To Fight or Not to Fight?
Because I realize that most people will not waste time fighting parking tickets, I thought twice before deciding to write this post.
After all, there are no license points involved and the fines for parking violations are not usually excessive. Most people have the attitude that it sucks that they got the ticket, but figure it makes the most sense to just pay it and move on. Why waste a vacation/sick day sitting around in a courtroom when the ultimate cost is negligible?
The “Traffic Ticket Nazis” Say Not to Fight …
Of course, that is also the attitude of many who receive more serious traffic tickets for things like speeding or “rolling through” a stop sign. I am constantly being reprimanded by people who I call “Traffic Ticket Nazis” who tell me that I should just admit my guilt, be a good citizen (sheep), pay the fine, and simply stop violating the law.
These “Nazis” don’t say it, but I imagine that they would also recommend that I brush my teeth 3x a day, always cross at the corner, pay the IRS for the $25 lottery scratch off I won …
The reality of life is that there are legitimate reasons for not doing EXACTLY what we are “supposed” to do depending on the circumstances surrounding the event. This is why I like to find technicalities in the law to beat traffic tickets.
And who knows?
A reader might even be inspired to actually take the chance on fighting a parking ticket based on the information I provide here. At the very least, you can learn a bit about how to plan a strategy to beat any kind of traffic ticket. As you will discover, its not rocket science. Once you find out which governmental authority is responsible for setting the traffic restriction (speed limit, stop sign, parking, etc.), you then locate the strict rules that it must follow to make the restriction enforceable.
In fact, this is the essence of my Pennsylvania Stop Sign Ticket Defense as well as many of the posts I publish on this blog. If you want to read a one-page summary of my method to win in traffic court, check out my free PDF The Pennsylvania Stop Sign Defense Strategy in a Nutshell.
As I have written on numerous occasions, if you can find a technicality in the law which supports your position, you will most likely beat your ticket because a judge has no choice but to accept it.
Summary of Potential Ways to Fight a Parking Ticket
I will be focusing on Pennsylvania in this post but the strategy is applicable in all states. You would just need to look up the specific parking rules for where you live.
Before I get to the details, here are the four possibly ways to beat a parking ticket in Pennsylvania:
- An ordinance wasn’t passed.
- An engineering study wasn’t completed for angled parking.
- Written approval wasn’t provided (angle parking/state highway).
- Required criteria for angle parking not addressed.
Pennsylvania’s Parking Statute #1 – The Ordinance
First up, local municipalities are clearly allowed to regulate parking. You can read about this in Title 75, Section 6109(a)(1):
“The provisions of this title shall not be deemed to prevent .. local authorities on streets or highways within their physical boundaries from the reasonable exercise of their police powers. The following are presumed to be reasonable exercises of police power … regulating or prohibiting stopping, standing or parking.”
The key to fighting a parking ticket under this statute is to determine if the local authority complied with Section 6109(b):
“Action taken by local authorities under this section shall be: (1) by ordinance of the local governing body; or (2) by a commission or public official authorized to act on specified matters.”
In order for a local authority to enforce parking, it has to pass an ordinance. Most municipalities are smart enough to do this but it doesn’t hurt to check. My son won his stop sign case because the town had never passed this ordinance. This meant that the stop sign that he allegedly rolled through was not legitimate. My guess is that my local town probably hasn’t passed parking ordinances either.
Pennsylvania’s Parking Statute #2 – The Engineering Study
Pennsylvania has another requirement when it comes to angle parking. Not only is the ordinance necessary, but the local authority also has to perform “an engineering and traffic study” according to Title 75, Section 3354(c):
“Local authorities may permit angle parking on any highway after an engineering and traffic study has determined that the highway is of sufficient width to permit angle parking without interfering with the free movement of traffic, except that on a State-designated highway prior approval of the department shall also be obtained.”
Pennsylvania’s Parking Statute #3 – Department Approval
Title 67, Chapter 212.5(b) adds one more requirement for local authorities when it comes to establishing angled parking on a state highway within its boundaries – written approval:
“… written Department approval is required prior to creating new angle parking.”
Pennsylvania’s Parking Statute #4 – Specific Criteria
There are some additional restrictions/requirements to learn about if you really want to fight your ticket in an angle parking situation. Although I have only included excerpts below, you can click through to the links if you are interested and read them for yourself
Title 67, Chapter 212.114(b)(1): “New angle parking may be established only along streets where the following criteria are satisfied: (i) The parking and maneuver area, as shown in the diagram which follows, adjacent to the near edge of the nearest travel lane equals or exceeds the distance indicated in the following table:
Subsection (c) also mentions a sign requirement:
“(c) Parking meters. When parking is permitted, local authorities may install parking meters and appropriate pavement markings to designate parking stalls. The hours of effectiveness of parking meters must be indicated either on the meter or within the dome of the meter, but official traffic signs shall be erected to indicate hours when parking is prohibited.”
Final Caveat About the Engineering Study
An important caveat about angle parking is contained in subsection (f) of Title 67, Chapter 212.114. There are certain cases where an engineering study is not required:
“Local authorities or the Department may restrict or regulate parking without an engineering and traffic study to accomplish the following: (i) Facilitate construction, maintenance or utility operations. (ii) Eliminate long-term parking or parking in excess of a specified time limit. (iii) Provide for reserved parking spaces. (iv) Provide for snow emergency routes. (v) Provide for mail delivery or pickup.”
What You Need to Do
If you want to determine if your parking ticket is enforceable or not based on the criteria/requirements I have laid out, the easiest way is to file an open public records request. Go on your town’s website and see if it lists the officer in charge of these requests and whether it has provided a form that you can fill out to request the information. For example, in my town, Hawley, PA the form can be viewed here. The officer in charge can be found on the website of the PA Office of Open Records here.