Getting a ticket isn’t cool.
Have you ever received a traffic ticket, or a vehicle citation of some type? Well, if you’ve been driving long enough, you have probably had one come your way at least once for whatever reason. Even the very careful among us can get them. I got one recently, and wasn’t exactly thrilled. But instead of getting upset about it, I set out to try to fight it and contest the ticket.
Not long ago, I had gone to a local department of motor vehicles (or whatever the exact name is) branch to get a license plate renewal sticker. Somehow, there ended up being some type of snafu when I mailed in the renewal, so I basically got a note recommending as an option that I could go to a local office to get this resolved. So, I did.
The day I went there, it was snowy with a kind of cold, humid feel outside. I walked in, and surprisingly – didn’t have to wait an hour! Rather, I got in and out of there within a matter of 10 minutes. While I was walking out, the lady behind the counter suggested to me that I wait for another day to apply the sticker to the license plate. Her comments were essentially that these stickers don’t tend to affix to license plates well in this type of snowy, wet weather. Based on this suggestion, I put the sticker card in my car’s glove compartment, and thought I would just apply it sometime in the next few days when the weather was better.
Six days went by, and I hadn’t applied the sticker yet. The weather cleared up, and I was going to get it affixed, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I was going to get it done soon though, it was just a matter of remembering some morning I got into the car.
Well, on that 6th day, I had to go to an appointment in a city nearby. In a difficult area to find street parking, I lucked out and found a spot. I spent a few hours in the meeting, then came out to my car. To my surprise, I found a ticket on windshield, secured under the windshield wiper blade.
My initial thought was that I somehow parked in a no-parking zone, or during some time frame when parking wasn’t allowed. Or, perhaps it was zoned parking, where one needed a local permit? So, I took a look at the ticket to see what it was. To my surprise, it was for not having a license plate sticker for this year.
I thought, “Come on! Why in the world is some municipality – one in which I don’t live and rarely visit – ticketed me for this?”.
So my reaction was this: the ticket itself is valid in the sense that no sticker was affixed. You’re supposed to have one, and I didn’t. Fair enough. However, since I already paid for the sticker, why not try to make the case that I shouldn’t have to pay it? Sure, I didn’t affix the sticker, but I wanted to get out of paying the ticket since I had legitimately bought the ticket. I just hadn’t yet affixed it.
I immediately looked at the ticket more closely, and saw that it was for $25. Not a big amount, but not what anyone wants to have happen. Since my instant mindset was that I wanted to find a way to legitimately avoid paying this, I looked to see where I could go to pay it or contest it. Standing outside my car, I used my phone to get directions to the city clerk’s office. Then, I got in and drove right there.
Once I arrived, I made my way to the right office after asking a few questions, and then explained the situation. I was told that it was a valid ticket. Accordingly, I could pay it – or, appear in person at a future date to contest it, or fill out a form to contest it. Well, I didn’t have time to go back there, so filled out the form.
In doing so, I made sure to detail everything that happened, what I was told about waiting to affix it, and the fact that I had already bought the ticket. Additionally, I brought a copy of the ticket, proof that I had paid, and asked them if they would photocopy the information. Finally, I wrote the request in a respectful way, but made it clear that I had a lot of facts and support to back up my position that I shouldn’t have to pay for this ticket.
I was told that I could expect a letter within a few weeks, with the decision.
I anticipated getting a letter indicating that I owed the $25. However, when the letter arrived, I opened it to find a pleasant surprise: I was deemed “not liable”.
They realized that I had a good case, and that even though I hadn’t affixed the license plate sticker, the fact that I bought the sticker was good enough. Which it should have been, based on common sense.
- Don’t put yourself in a position to have to contest any kind of ticket
- If you do contest, make sure that you have a genuine, legitimate reason as to why you shouldn’t have to pay
- Provide all relevant documentation and proof that could help your case
- State your case in a detailed, well thought out, convincing manner
- Be respectful in your approach, and nice to people involved
No guarantees of course, but by taking steps that you can control, it can only help put the odds a little bit in your favor.
My Questions for You
Have you ever received a traffic ticket or citation of some sort that you didn’t think you should have to pay?
Have you, or anyone you know, successfully contested a ticket or fine? If so, please share what happened and what led to the success?