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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) About Parking and Red-light Tickets and Other Parking Issues

Q. Will contesting or challenging my ticket really give me more time to pay?
A. No. Contrary to popular belief, contesting or challenging a ticket will unlikely buy you more time. In fact, if you are found liable you may be billed more quickly. Should you need more time to pay a ticket, please take advantage of one of the City of Chicago's available payment plans.

Q. If I elect to contest my ticket by mail, what information should be included?
A. Set forth facts that establish an allowable defense. Also sign any supporting evidence and indicate the ten-digit ticket number of the ticket you are contesting on each piece of evidence. Evidence includes but is not limited to: photographs, affidavits, your state vehicle registration, or official police vehicle theft and/or recovery reports. Make sure the documents are legible and complete. Send copies, not originals; evidence will not be returned.

Q. My car is registered outside of Chicago. Am I still required to display a City Sticker on my car?
A. Yes, as long as you are a resident of Chicago. Residents include all people who own or rent property in Chicago, regardless of whether or not Chicago is your primary home. New residents must obtain and display a City sticker in 30 days.

Q. I do not own property in Chicago but instead rent an apartment. Am I still required to display a City Sticker on my car?
A. Yes, renters must obtain and properly display a city sticker.

Q. I've seen ticket-issuers taking photos of violations. What's going on?
A. Parking enforcement personnel may issue tickets using handheld computers that can also take supporting photos. Photos will serve as evidence to a violation. Motorists who receive a ticket that is supported by photographs may view them on this site.

Q. Will the Administrative Law Officer listen to my side of the story?
A. Yes, but you need to raise one of the allowable defenses. Administrative Law Officers are private attorneys contracted by the City of Chicago's Department of Administrative Hearings. They are trained to hear parking ticket cases and must be fair and impartial. They must base their rulings on ordinances and not on personal feelings.

Q. Why did I get a ticket when there was clearly no yellow line?
A. The yellow line itself does not determine whether a parking space is legal or illegal. The yellow line is merely a warning to look around for a “no parking sign” or an indication that you can't park there.

Q. Can I get a ticket, even if I was illegally parked for a minute?
A. You may be ticketed for parking illegally for any amount of time. The actual duration one is parked illegally is not a defense.

Q. Can I be ticketed even if there was time on the meter? How is that possible?
A. If you are parked at a two-hour meter, for example, you are not allowed to feed the meter after the two hours are over. You must move your car so that other motorists may park. Even if you put more quarters in the meter, if you have parked there over the stated limit, you can get a ticket.

Q. Why did I get a ticket for a Street Cleaning Violation? There were no signs posted when I parked.
A. The City must provide reasonable notice of street cleaning or other temporary no-parking restrictions. A hearing officer can determine whether or not a violation is proper.

Q. I received multiple tickets for the same meter violation, how is that possible?
A. Motorists can get multiple parking tickets for sitting at the same expired meter, so if you are parked at an expired one-hour meter for more than two hours, you can get two tickets.

Q. What are the defenses for contesting parking tickets?

A. The Municipal Code of Chicago allows the following defenses for parking and compliance tickets. The following defenses are allowed for most parking and compliance tickets:

  1. The respondent was not the owner or lessee of the cited vehicle at the time of the violation;
  2. The cited vehicle or its state registration plates (license plates) were stolen at the time of the violation;
  3. The relevant signs prohibiting or restricting parking were missing or obscured;
  4. The relevant parking meter was inoperable or malfunctioned through no fault of the respondent;
  5. The facts alleged in the parking or compliance violation notice are inconsistent or do not support a finding that the specified regulation was violated (e.g., motorists may contest a city sticker violation if they have resided in Chicago for less than 30 days or the cited vehicle was purchased in the last 30 days; tinted windows comply with the medical use requirement of 625 ILCS 5/12-503(g); the residential parking permit was issued to a delivery, service, or repair vehicle or home health care provider doing business with or assisting a resident of the zone; etc.);
  6. The illegal vehicle condition did not exist at the time of the compliance violation;
  7. The illegal vehicle condition was corrected prior to the hearing (Note: this defense does not apply to city sticker violations (§ 9-64-125), muffler or exhaust violations (§ 9-76-140(a)), missing plate violations (§ 9-76-160(a)), expired registration violations (§ 9-76-160(f)), and tinted window violations (§ 9-76-220)).

Q. What are the defenses for contesting red-light tickets?

A. The following defenses are allowed for red-light violations recorded by automated cameras (violations issued pursuant to 9-102-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago). You should have received a notice by postal mail displaying three (3) images of a vehicle registered in your name, including a close-up image of the vehicle's license plate:

  1. The operator was also issued a uniform traffic citation for a violation of sections 9-8-020(c) or 9-16-030(c) (for purposes of red light camera violations issued pursuant to section 9-102-020 only);
  2. That the violation occurred when the vehicle or its state registration plates (license plates) were reported to a law enforcement agency as having been stolen, and the vehicle or its plates had not
    been recovered by the owner at the time of the alleged violation;
  3. The vehicle was an authorized emergency vehicle or was lawfully participating in a funeral procession;
  4. That the facts alleged in the violation notice are inconsistent or do not support a finding that the Chicago Municipal code was violated;
  5. The respondent was not the owner of the cited vehicle at the time of the violation.