Home > 2014 > Credit Score

What Happens If You Ignore a Parking Ticket?

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 1 Comment

What would happen if you took the parking ticket you found under your windshield wiper and just shoved it in your glove compartment, never looking at it again?

Jason Swett can tell you what happened to him; he had what he calls a “no pay” policy on parking tickets when he was a student at Western Michigan University. “For some stupid reason I assumed they would never track me down for my tickets,” he said.

But when he needed his transcripts in order to transfer to a university in Texas, he couldn’t get them until he paid all his outstanding fees, which included the ignored, unpaid parking tickets. The tickets had doubled in price, and he had to pay up. For him, that was about $3,000.

“And the terrible part is that I moved back to Michigan years later, and they had evidently lost any record of payment because in order to get my driver’s license, I had to pay for all those tickets AGAIN,” he wrote in an email. “So if you have a bunch of parking tickets to pay, maybe hang onto that receipt, like, forever,” advises the founder and CEO of Snip Salon Software.

What else can happen? It depends on where you got the ticket. In some municipalities, tickets have to add up to a certain dollar amount before action is taken. Others send the information on money owed — even small amounts — to collection agencies (if you’re curious about how old the ticket can be, here are the state statues of limitations). Ignore tickets long enough in some municipalities and you could get your driver’s license suspended. Getting your car towed or “booted” and having to pay to have it liberated is not uncommon, and it will cost you far more than just paying the ticket would have. But sometimes you can ignore a parking ticket and nothing will happen — which is why it’s so tempting.

Patchwork of Regulations

Steven Kramer, an Orlando, Fla., attorney, says parking tickets are pretty much “the Wild West” of law enforcement. There is no uniformity in laws or penalties, but ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Kramer, founder of the Kramer Law Firm, says he doesn’t generally see clients who want to hire him to fight a parking ticket — it’s simply not worth it.

Here’s something that is worth it: talking to a new driver about parking tickets. Kramer said a youngster’s parking violation, if it goes unpaid, can end up affecting the credit of the person who is registered as the owner of the vehicle. And that can be a nasty surprise.

Long-forgotten parking tickets become especially maddening when they stand in the way of a major purchase. “Very few people actively monitor their credit,” Kramer said. The task ends up getting put at the end of a long list of other things to do… and so people often find out that the ticket was sent to collections or listed as a negative on their credit reports, dropping their scores significantly. In many cases, people first become aware of it when they are planning to buy a car or take out a mortgage and their credit scores are much, much lower than they thought.

Fortunately, checking and monitoring your credit isn’t difficult, and you can do it for free on sites like Credit.com. A change in score could alert you to a problem, and taking care of it right away can help you preserve or improve your credit — and prevent nasty surprises in the event that you should want to use your good credit.

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

Image: Carl Zoch

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • heavyw8t

    In the days before computerized record keeping, you could get away with things like this. bu not anymore. Either don’t park where you aren’t supposed to and maybe walk that extra 15 feet, or pay when you get caught. Anything related to your credit WILL end up biting you because there will be a day that you want to buy a house and you will need clean credit.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team