Last updated: August 2022

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

You walk up to your car, ready to head home after a long day. Then you see it. A brightly colored paper sticking out from under your windshield wiper, fluttering in the wind.

It’s a parking ticket.

Now you're wondering: Do I have to pay it? Will it impact my car insurance rates? Can I get arrested for not paying it? Find out what happens if you don’t pay a parking ticket, from your friends at Direct Auto Insurance!

Parking Tickets vs. Traffic Tickets

It’s important to clarify that we're talking about a parking ticket and not a traffic ticket. These are two very different types of tickets.

  • Parking tickets are citations for breaking local or municipal parking laws. These are tickets you get when your car is parked illegally, hence the name! Parking tickets do not go on your driving record.
  • Traffic tickets are issued when your vehicle is in motion. They’re given out for infractions like speeding, not using your turn signal, running a stop sign, and so on. Traffic tickets are given out by law enforcement and can impact your driving record.

Consequences of Unpaid Parking Tickets

It can be tempting to toss a parking ticket into your glove box and forget about it, but you could face some consequences for giving into this temptation.

Consequences for unpaid parking tickets vary by city and state, but may include…

  • Doubling or tripling of fines: If you don’t pay the parking ticket within the specified timeframe, your original fee could double or triple with late fees and collection fees.
  • Getting your vehicle booted: A device is attached to a wheel of your car to prevent you from moving it. When this happens, you aren’t going anywhere until you pay up. In New York, for instance, your vehicle can get booted for owing the city more than $350 in parking tickets.
  • Hold on your vehicle registration: The agency that issued the parking ticket can report your fines to the DMV, who can then put a hold on your registration renewal. In other words, you can’t register your car until you take care of your unpaid parking tickets.
  • A bench warrant for your arrest: Sit on an unpaid parking ticket long enough and a local court may issue a notice for you to appear in court and pay the balance you owe. Ignore this notice and the court could then issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If you aren’t familiar with legal speak, this means that cops are authorized to arrest you if they spot you on the road.
  • Suspended driver’s license: Finally, accumulating unpaid parking tickets can result in a suspended license. Driving is a privilege, not a right – and ignoring parking tickets can result in losing that privilege.

Misplaced your parking ticket? Not sure if you have unpaid parking tickets? Check your driving record!

Unpaid Parking Tickets and Car Insurance Rates

Do parking tickets impact car insurance rates? The short answer is no, unpaid parking tickets don’t directly impact car insurance rates. However, the consequences that result from unpaid parking tickets can affect insurance rates. If your license gets suspended or there is a bench warrant issued for your arrest, you’re likely to see an increase in your car insurance rates.

A few unpaid parking tickets don't have to turn into trouble. Save yourself the hassle of a booted car or suspended driver’s license by paying for parking tickets on-time. Choose Direct Auto Insurance for your car insurance needs, and you can bet we’ll work hard to connect you with the coverages and services you need, even if you do have a few parking tickets in your past.

More on Rules of the Road:

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