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It's unlikely that a single parking ticket would affect your insurance rates, as long as you pay it promptly. But if you leave the ticket unpaid or let multiple tickets pile up, you could see your car insurance rates rise — among other financial consequences.
Do parking tickets affect your record or give you points?
Parking tickets don't go on your permanent driving record, and tickets alone can't impact your driving privileges. As long as you pay the bill promptly, there should be no other consequences. Parking violations also won't cause any additional points to go on your record — they're no-point tickets — but you can't reduce your points by paying your parking ticket, either.
When parking tickets can affect insurance rates
It's no surprise that auto insurance companies consider your driving record when setting rates. Convictions for traffic violations such as speeding, running red lights and DUIs can all affect your monthly or annual insurance bill.
However, insurers only consider moving violations, or actions that have to do with you driving unsafely. Anything else, like a parking ticket or excessive muffler noise, counts as a nonmoving violation and won't directly affect your insurance costs.
However, if you let a parking ticket or several parking tickets go unpaid, you may be subject to consequences that could impact your insurance rates.
The good news is public record information is not factored into your credit score. This means that tickets of all kinds, including traffic and parking tickets, can no longer affect your credit score. As a result, your credit-based insurance score can't be affected by parking tickets.
However, leaving your parking tickets unpaid can affect insurance rates. Your unpaid parking ticket could be sent to a collections agency — and debt sent to collections is factored into your credit score, which could in turn affect your auto insurance rates. However, if you live in the select handful of states where it is illegal to factor credit scores into insurance rates, your parking ticket going to collections should not impact your rates.
Another possible consequence of unpaid parking tickets is having your car registration canceled. Getting your registration suspended might affect your insurance rates on its own. But if you're caught driving while your registration isn't active, you'll almost certainly pay a fine and may even be arrested.
Even worse, in certain states, your driver's license may be suspended if you do not pay a ticket. This can lead to a significant spike in insurance rates since many states require you to file an SR-22 if your license has been suspended. SR-22 insurance is far more expensive than regular insurance, as an SR-22 signals to your insurer that you're a high-risk driver more likely to require a claim payout.
There are a few other ways overdue tickets might cost you extra money, though whether these apply to you depends on your state's laws and the circumstances under which you got the ticket. Additionally, these typically won't affect your insurance rates.
Other potential expenses resulting from overdue tickets:
- The amount of your fine may increase because of late fees.
- Your car may be booted or impounded.
- Your car may be sold at auction.
Keep in mind that parking tickets are tied to a car, not the person driving it. If you loan your car to a friend or family member, you'll be responsible for paying the ticket — "I wasn't driving" won't get the ticket removed in this case. It's up to you to pay the fine and hopefully get reimbursed by the person that parked it illegally.
Private parking tickets aren't likely to raise insurance rates
Most of the time, parking tickets are issued by police officers. Owners of private property, like shopping malls and college campuses, sometimes issue parking tickets as well. However, tickets you receive while parked on private property aren't always legally enforceable. The two main things private property owners can do are prevent you from parking on their property in the future and send your ticket to a collections agency.
Other possible consequences of not paying a ticket you receive in a private lot are having a boot put on your car or having it towed. Taking care of either of those issues can cost you hundreds of dollars, so it's best to resolve any tickets you receive promptly if you want to keep parking there.
How to avoid getting a parking ticket
Parking tickets are certainly annoying, but there are several steps you can take to avoid getting them.
- Check the area around you before parking. Is there clear signage saying you can park there? Is parking restricted to certain hours? Always make sure to read any signs around you carefully before parking your car.
- Set a timer if there is a limit to how long you can park. Put a timer on your phone to remind yourself that your parking is about to expire, and build in some extra time to return to your car.
- Plan how you will pay ahead of time. If you can pay for parking via an app, install the app before you arrive at your destination. If you plan to pay with cash, be sure to get change to feed the meter. If you arrive and the meter is broken, seek out another spot to park. If there is no other parking spot, take photos so that if you receive a ticket you can dispute it.
- Pay for a spot in a garage. Yes, garage parking is often more expensive — but if you're constantly getting tickets, it could be cheaper in the long run.
If you believe you wrongly received a parking ticket, dispute it as soon as possible. Most local and state governments give you a window of two weeks to 30 days to initiate a dispute.
Leaving your ticket unpaid won't get you off the hook. If anything, you'll wind up paying more in late fees and, if your debt gets sent to collections, in insurance rates. Bring any photos you took to demonstrate that the parking ticket was given in error.
Frequently asked questions
What kinds of tickets affect your insurance?
There are two kinds of traffic tickets: moving and nonmoving violations. Tickets for moving violations, such as speeding, affect your insurance since they're an indicator of how safely you drive. Tickets for nonmoving violations, such as parking, usually do not affect your insurance.
Can you lose your license for parking tickets?
You cannot lose your license for parking tickets alone, no matter how many you accrue. However, in certain states, your driver's license can be revoked for failing to pay parking tickets. Other states, such as New York, have implemented laws that prevent drivers from losing their licenses over unpaid fines.
How can you tell if you have unpaid parking tickets?
Many states have an online system that allows you to enter your license plate to see if you have any unpaid parking tickets. If you do have one — and you can't afford to pay it — see if a payment plan is available. Be aware that if you choose to pay for your parking ticket via a payment plan, you may wind up paying more.