5 Ways to Dodge a Parking Ticket

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- On the list of consumer annoyances in life, parking tickets aren't on the level of taxes or root canal, but they can cause a financial headache just the same, especially if you're a habitual offender or are late paying the fines.

How can you avoid those annoying parking tickets in the first place?

The International Parking Institute (yes, there is a trade association devoted strictly to Americans parking their vehicles) is out with some new tips on how to dodge those pesky parking tickets, a notion well worth heeding these days.

The average cost of a parking ticket varies from state to state, city to city, and town to town. But let’s use Ann Arbor, Mich. as a benchmark.

An expired meter parking fine will run you $10 if paid by the next day ($20 if paid after that). Handicapped parking violations costs $115, while “other parking violations” are $35.

Even a handful of unpaid parking tickets can dent your bank account, in Ann Arbor or most other municipalities across the U.S.

To keep those dollars in your wallet, eyeball some of those tips from the Fredericksburg, Va.-based IPI.

  • Don’t depend on “flashers” to avoid a ticket: The IPI says the best remedy is to feed the meter, and not to try and trick a parking officer by turning your vehicle’s flashers on. That, the group says, is just a strategy that screams, “ticket me” to parking officers.
  • Keep plenty of quarters on hand: The IPI says that many cities and towns are installing parking meters that accept credit and debit cards, but your best bet is to keep a roll of quarters in your glove compartment – the preferred coin currency for U.S. parking meters.
  • Use a garage: The IPI says that consumers feel they can play that time-honored game of “feed the meter” all day if they’re parking for the long term. Big mistake. Parking meters are installed not to deprive you of your money via tickets, but to keep vehicles moving so more people can get a chance to park downtown. So, you’re just as likely to either get a ticket for meter-feeding, or mis-time your “feed” and earn a parking ticket, anyway. The best move if you’re parking all day is to grab a spot in a parking garage, or take public transportation.
  • Check your surroundings: Tickets can easily be avoided by taking a moment to notice where you park. If you’re blocking a fire hydrant, parking on a crosswalk, or near a loading zone, the ticket fees for those violations are significantly higher than the average parking ticket.
  • Appeal and reform: Don’t be afraid to appeal a ticket, especially if you’re a first-time offender. Parking enforcement agencies tend to allow those appeals to go through, especially if there is some gray area involved. Also, ask your local city or town’s parking agency if they have an “amnesty program” for habitual offenders that allow you to pay with no late fees.

There’s really no need to get a parking ticket in the first place. Time may be a commodity, but unless you’re downtown cashing your lottery check, chancing a ticket just doesn’t make sense.