This post is part of EverQuote’s Traffic Ticket Series. Learn more about other traffic tickets and how they affect auto insurance here.

We all know the feeling. You returned to your meter a few minutes late, but the reader turned red and there’s a bright orange ticket on your dash. Or you were stressed out driving in an unfamiliar city and parked illegally. There are quite a few reasons why you might end up with a parking ticket. Here’s what you need to know about how the violation will affect your car insurance.

Types of Parking Ticket Violations

A parking ticket may be issued for the following reasons...

  • Expired meter
  • Parking in a restricted area (commercial vehicles only, patrons only)
  • Double parking
  • Parking while blocking an intersection, fire hydrant, crosswalk, driveway or taxi zone
  • Parking too far from the curb
  • Otherwise parking illegally (disobeying street cleaning signs, snow parking bans, or no parking signs with designated hours)

Fines and Penalties for Parking Tickets

A parking violation may result in several penalties. Typically, a parking ticket has a fine that must be paid by a certain date. The fine varies from state to state, and may be as low as $30 in New Orleans, Louisiana and as high as $70 in San Francisco, California. Many states also add on late fees for missed payments, and fines may differ depending on the type of parking violation (blocking a fire hydrant versus double parking). If you fail to pay the ticket on time, you may face the following penalties:

  • A boot on your vehicle
  • Vehicle registration suspension
  • Towing and impounding of your car
  • Lower credit rating

Government parking tickets are often processed differently than private lot tickets. However, failure to pay either one will result in consequences. Private lots may refer you to a collection agency and that could damage your credit rating.

The Effect of Parking Tickets on Car Insurance

Parking tickets are not reported to your state’s DMV so they typically have a negligible effect on your car insurance. However, you must pay the ticket before it’s due. If the due date passes and you do not pay your parking ticket, you may face consequences that could include the suspension of your car’s registration or even your driver’s license. Such suspensions can lead to higher car insurance rates as insurers may see you as a high-risk driver. Furthermore, your current insurer may not offer to renew your policy which could make finding a new insurer more difficult.

How to Bring Your Rate Back Down

Knock off some points. If you have unpaid parking tickets or multiple violations and live in a state with a points system, you may have accumulated points on your driving record. To avoid rate hikes or a license suspension, reduce your points by taking a defensive driving or safe driving class. Some states will reduce your driver’s license points if you complete an approved course. They may also offer a discount.

Check with your agent to be sure you’re receiving all possible discounts. There may be savings available that you’re not even aware you qualify for. Be sure to mention alumni programs or other organizational memberships as even those can get you car insurance savings.

Contest the parking ticket. You can always appeal a parking ticket if you believe you weren’t in the wrong, but know that “I couldn’t find anywhere to park” and “I didn’t see a ‘no parking’ sign” is not a good enough excuse. If you stopped to avoid a collision, because of car trouble or due to health issues, you have a better chance of getting your ticket dismissed. Typically, you can contest a ticket by writing or calling the city hall where the ticket was issued. They may ask you to appear in court and request photos, car repair receipts or additional information.

Compare quotes. If you’re unhappy with your rate, you can always shop around. Auto insurers all determine premium prices and risk level differently. Check around to find the best coverage for you. 

Photo credits: Alice Keeler, Steven Depolo