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Tips for Avoiding Parking Tickets

Most restricted parking areas are clearly marked by signs or curb markings, like tow zones, residential permit parking, and fire hydrant violations.  There are other restrictions, not necessarily indicated by signs, that motorists are required to know.  These violations include parking in a manner that impacts pedestrian safety, access for persons with disabilities, and traffic flow.  This page is designed to discuss some of the lesser known parking violations.

Violation Descriptions:

Park or Stand on Sidewalk

Park or Stand on Parkway

Park or Stand on Crosswalk

It is illegal to park on a sidewalk, parkway or crosswalk.  While most motorists know this, some do not know that in a private driveway that requires a vehicle to drive over a public sidewalk you cannot park your vehicle in your driveway with its rear or front extending over the pedestrian sidewalk.  This is illegal, in part, because your vehicle may be impeding the ability of a person in a wheel chair to travel without difficulty on the sidewalk.  Further, pedestrians, including parents or caregivers with strollers, have the right to expect the public way to be fully clear of impediments like parked vehicles.  Similarly, you cannot park with your wheels on the curb.  Vehicles that park with two wheels on a curb can seriously damage the curb.  Further, many residents consider this practice unsightly.

Improper Display of City Sticker

Most Chicago residents know they are required to display current city stickers on their vehicles.  What may be less widely known is that there are specific display requirements for city stickers.  This means that many motorists will be required to remove expired stickers purchased in previous years.  City law requires that your city sticker be placed on the inside of your vehicle on the lower right hand side of your windshield.

Parking a Vehicle 6 Feet or Higher Within 20 Feet of a Crosswalk

If you own or rent a large vehicle like a suburban utility vehicle (SUV) it may be 6 feet or taller.  You may not park a vehicle 6 feet or taller within 20 feet of a crosswalk because other motorists may have difficulty seeing around your vehicle before entering an intersection.  Therefore, this restriction promotes safety for all drivers as well as pedestrians.

Parking a Vehicle for the Sole Purpose of Displaying the Vehicle for Sale

Parking a Vehicle to Make Repairs

Parking a Vehicle To Sell Merchandise

You may not park your vehicle for the sole purpose of displaying it for sale, to make repairs or to sell merchandise.  These restrictions promote quality of life, and the residential look to a community.  Many residents feel that vehicles parked on the public way for these purposes are unsightly. 

Parking In An Alley

While many motorists know that you are not allowed to park in an alley because traffic flow may be obstructed, some motorists are unaware that this includes parking in front of a garage.  You cannot park your car in front of your garage because this can obstruct traffic flow and obstruct the ability for other motorists to maneuver in and out of their garages.

Wrong Direction or 12 Inches from the Curb

This parking restriction is actually a combination of two restrictions.  It is illegal to park in the direction opposite to traffic flow.  For example, most motorists are aware that a one way street requires you to park in the required direction of traffic.  A lesser known restriction is that you are still required to park your vehicle in the direction of traffic on a street that allows traffic in two directions,   For example, on a street that runs north and south with traffic flowing north on the right, and south on the left, parked vehicles on the right must be facing north.  Parked vehicles on the left must be facing south.  This restriction promotes the correct flow of traffic.

You cannot park your vehicle more than 12 inches from a curb.  This restriction is designed to encourage the free flow of traffic by ensuring that vehicles are not impeded by parked vehicles that are too far out into the roadway.

Vehicles sticking out too far into the roadway also have a higher likelihood of being hit or scraped by passing vehicles.

Parking Outside Diagonal Markings

Chicago does have parking spots that are marked by diagonal lines.  You must park within these lines so that other motorists can park in spaces next to yours without difficulty.

Snow Route: 2 Inches of Snow or More

Snow routes are designated with signage by the City on streets with significant traffic flow.  It is necessary for snow plows from the Department of Streets and Sanitation to have access to plow and remove snow from streets with significant traffic.  The ability for the City to quickly remove snow from heavily trafficked streets benefits all motorists and promotes safety and the free flow of traffic.  If you are unsure about how much snow has fallen, err on the side of caution and park on a street without these posted restrictions.

Non-Compliant License Plates

State law requires most vehicles to affix front and back license plates to the vehicles at a height of not less than 12 inches from the ground.  For example, you can be issued a ticket if you are displaying your license plate in your windshield.

Parking Prohibited In a Viaduct or Underpass

It is unlawful to park under a viaduct or underpass.  This restriction is designed to encourage the free flow of traffic.

Tinted Windows

It is unlawful to have a sign, poster, window application, reflective material, non-reflective material or tinted film on the front windshield, side-wings or side windows immediately adjacent to either side of the operator.  A non-reflective tint screen may be used along the uppermost portion of the front windshield if the material does not extend more than 6 inches down from the top of the windshield.  It is also unlawful to park or stand a vehicle on any potion of the public way if the vehicle is equipped with non-reflective, smoked or tinted glass or non-reflective film on the front windshield, side-wings or side windows immediately adjacent to either side of the driver's seat.  There is an exemption for persons requiring tinted glass for medical reasons.

Chicago issues tinted window violations under home rule authority.  We are aware that laws outside Chicago may be more lenient with regard to the amount of tint permitted on vehicles.  However, tinted windows can compromise police officers' ability to see into a vehicle and this can be a serious safety issue for law enforcement personnel.

Other Tips For Your Consideration:

  • Please do not ignore your parking tickets or the mailed notices.
  • Take action by contesting your tickets or paying your tickets by the “pay by date” on the Notice of Violation.  Avoid additional penalties by timely remitting payment.
  • Please remember to update your license plate registration with the Illinois Secretary of State or your home state’s vehicle authority every time you move.  Please note, updating your address on your driver’s license does not necessarily mean that your address will be updated on your license plate registration.
  • If you have questions, please visit us at http://www.cityofchicago.org/Finance or call us at 312.744.7275.