Getting a parking ticket is never a pleasant experience, but it can be stressful and confusing when it happens in a rental car in an unfamiliar city. According to a recent insurance survey, nearly one in three individuals have received a parking ticket while driving a rental car.
While simply paying the fine may seem like the easiest solution, there are steps you can take to potentially get the ticket dismissed without penalty. This guide will walk you through the best practices for dealing with a parking violation in a rental vehicle.
The first thing to do upon receiving a parking ticket in a rental car is to act quickly. Different jurisdictions have different policies, but generally, you will only have a short window of time (often 7-14 days) to contest the ticket before the fine increases or it is considered delinquent.
Contact the Rental Company
After receiving a parking ticket, your next step should be to contact the rental car company. Ask to speak to a representative from the loss and damage department if they have one. Explain what happened and get their advice on the next steps.
At Expo Rent a Car, a popular rental agency in Vancouver, our loss and damage team is trained to deal specifically with issues like parking tickets. We can liaise with city parking enforcement on your behalf, drawing on their extensive knowledge of local regulations and ticketing practices. This inside expertise can be invaluable in getting your ticket waived.
Keep a Paper Trail
When you speak to the rental car company representative, take detailed notes. Jot down the name and employee ID number of the person you spoke with, the date and exact time of the call, and all advice or information they provide. Ask clarifying questions about policies and procedures for dealing with tickets. These notes can serve as evidence if you need to dispute the ticket later.
Having a clear record of your communications with the rental company safeguards you if disputes arise down the line. It also shows the court you made a good faith effort to resolve the issue when fighting a ticket.
Consider Legal Assistance
If the rental company cannot get your parking ticket dropped, the next step is to consider hiring legal assistance. There are a few options:
- Ask the rental car company to recommend a legal service specializing in parking violations. Major rental chains will often have preferred attorneys they partner with in major urban areas. These lawyers will be familiar with local parking regulations and have experience navigating ticket dismissal.
- Look into legal aid organizations. If you meet their qualification guidelines based on income, age, disability status, etc., you may be able to receive discounted or free legal services.
- Search online directories for traffic ticket lawyers and reach out to compare rates. Look for attorneys who offer free case evaluations and flat-fee pricing models.
- According to legal expert Sandra Blackwell, contesting a ticket takes insider knowledge of administrative law and traffic court proceedings. An experienced lawyer knows how to identify procedural errors and technicalities that can get your ticket thrown out.
Don’t Ignore It
It may be tempting to stick your head in the sand and ignore a parking ticket, especially if you’re no longer in the city where it was issued. But this opens you up to costly penalties, collections actions, and license suspensions down the road. Unpaid tickets sent to collections can end up costing 2-3 times more than the original fine amount.
Build Your Case
You need to craft a persuasive argument to successfully contest a parking ticket.Leverage any evidentiary issues, procedural defects, or mitigating factors to build your strongest case for dismissal. Some avenues to explore with your lawyer include:
- Procedural errors by parking enforcement: Was your ticket missing key details required by law? Was it placed improperly on the vehicle? Were required notifications not delivered? Any technical defect can invalidate it.
- Mitigating circumstances: If special conditions like weather, unclear signage, or misleading instructions from GPS led to the violation, make note of them. Extenuating circumstances can warrant ticket dismissal.
- Evidence issues: Photo or video evidence may reveal problems. Grainy or obscured images can be grounds for dismissal if they fail to definitively prove the supposed infraction.
Being proactive, meticulous, and strategic is vital for successfully contesting parking tickets in rental cars. While fines may seem inevitable, there are tried and true tactics for getting penalties waived. With the right approach and some guidance from seasoned experts, you can navigate this tricky territory with confidence.