What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your Parking Tickets?

Leah Bourne
November 20, 2018

So you got a parking ticket? Now what’s probably going through your head (as it has gone through the heads of so many people before you) is, what’s going to happen to me if I just ignore this, and don’t pay?

What happens if I don’t pay pay a parking ticket?

There is no hard or fast rule on what is going to happen to you–it varies by both city and state. The good news is that there is no possibility of jail time when it comes to unpaid parking tickets (the same can’t be said for traffic violations). The bad news is that there is a host of other potential issues that you could face, particularly if you let the parking ticket go unpaid for quite a while or if you have a lot of unpaid parking tickets.

The amount that you owe could increase over time

If you miss the cutoff date for when you are supposed to pay a parking ticket it’s highly likely you’ll start to accrue penalty fees. In California, for instance, you could get stuck with a “civil assessment” of up to $300. In New York City and don’t pay your parking ticket for more than 90 days? You could get as much as $60 added to your parking ticket. After 100 days, you’ll even start accruing interest for every year it goes unpaid.

Your car could get towed or even booted

Let’s put it this way, you aren’t going under the radar when you don’t pay parking tickets. The police likely have your license plate on file, and even if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you could return to your car and find that it has been towed or “booted” if you have unpaid tickets. According to DC ‘s Department of Motor Vehicles, “Your vehicle may be booted if you have two or more outstanding parking and/or photo enforcement tickets—even if you are legally parked at the time the car is booted.” Now, bear in mind that number varies from state to state, but still, it’s evidence that you don’t need a ton of unpaid parking tickets to have this happen.

You could lose your car entirely

Now, if you thought getting your car towed or booted was bad enough, imagine having your car taken. In New York state, for instance, the state has been known to possess cars and then hold auctions of them to recoup the fines. Ouch.

Your case could go to a collection agency

You are probably all too familiar with collection agencies when it comes to credit card or medical bills, but take heed, your unpaid parking tickets can also go to collection agencies. Once that happens, prepare to be inundated with letters, phone calls, and maybe even visits to your home.

Your credit score could take a hit

We’ve covered numerous times just how important your credit score is to your overall financial health. What does your credit score have to do with parking tickets you ask? Well, The Parking Violations Bureau can report them to the credit bureau, thereby harming your credit score.  Once that happens, your ability to buy a house, rent a house, or even get a job could be in jeopardy.

What you owe could just get taken from you

Thanks to unpaid parking tickets, you can have your car booted or taken from you, your case could be sent to a collection agency, and your credit score can be impacted. That’s not even the end of it, the money that you owe can be directly taken out of your state tax refund, without you even getting a heads up.

Feature Image: Twenty20

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