What Happens If You Don’t Pay a Parking Ticket?

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Wondering what happens if you don't pay a parking ticket? Here's what you can expect if you plan not paying for a parking ticket.

There is no worst feeling than coming back to your car to see a parking ticket on your windshield. Most people pay it right away, but what if you ignore it and don’t pay?

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

Tearing up that parking ticket without receiving any consequences sounds like a dream. But if you don’t pay a parking ticket then expect fines, bench warrants (if you wait long enough), car booting or towing, license suspension, or even increased car premiums.

We’ll go through the potential issues you can face if you leave parking tickets unpaid.

1. You can face hefty fines

A parking ticket is a notice that you have violated a city or municipal parking ordinance and you now must pay the government a pre-determined fee. 

How much was your parking ticket? Was it around $50? You should know that the average cost of a parking ticket varies.

They can go from $10 to $20 in New Hampshire cities to more than $50 in areas of Northern Virginia.

More importantly, if you don’t pay the parking ticket within a specified time, you can incur late fees which may double or even triple that initial parking fee.

2. Bench warrants

Whatever you do, do not simply ignore parking tickets. Do you remember that scene from The Pursuit of Happiness, where Will Smith’s character was arrested at his home for failing to pay parking tickets?

This scene has some validity as a local court can actually issue a notice for you to appear in court for unpaid parking tickets.

If you ignore the court date, the court can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. This isn’t good, so make sure to pay those parking tickets on time, every time.

3. Your car can get booted or towed

Yep, your car can get booted or towed for unpaid parking tickets. If the police towed your vehicle they actually can even search it without a warrant.

While the number of unpaid parking tickets required to have your car towed or booted varies by state, in Washington D.C., that number is only 2 unpaid parking tickets. Don’t risk it — get those parking tickets paid.

4. You can face license suspension or revocation

Your right to drive in your state can be suspended if you ignore your unpaid parking tickets.

If you are caught driving with a suspended license then your license can be revoked. Once your license is revoked you can actually lose your ability to drive legally for years. 

5. Your car insurance premiums can raise

Insurance companies like Metromile determine your car insurance premiums based on your risk level.

However, did you know that your premiums can rise for a history of unpaid parking violations?

Failure to pay parking tickets can bring havoc upon you financially if you ignore them long enough.

Final word

Before you’re tempted into ignoring your parking tickets, hopefully, these scary consequences of an unpaid parking fine can steer you in the right direction.

You can now see that unpaid parking tickets can cost you more than you realized.

We hope you clearly learned what happens if you don’t pay a parking ticket, and think twice before leaving them unpaid.

About the author

Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs is a personal finance expert, and the founder of My Millennial Guide, a personal finance site helping you put more money in your pocket. He helps millennials follow the smart money in order to increase their earning potential and start building wealth for the future. He regularly writes about side hustles, investing, and general personal finance topics aimed to help anyone earn more, pay off debt, and reach financial freedom. He has been quoted as a top personal finance blogger in major publications including Yahoo! Finance, NASDAQ, Discover, MSN Money and more.
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