Most of us have at one time or another received a parking citation. Sometimes we knew we did wrong, but figured we wouldn’t get caught! Other times, we just don’t notice the signs. And, sometimes, citations are actually issued in error!
Several years ago, the Criminal Courts decided that they were overloaded and didn’t want to deal with parking citations in addition to serious crimes. So, parking citations were taken out of the Criminal Courts and declared a civil matter between the citing agency and the parker. This then allowed Hearing Officers to adjudicate the citation rather than a Criminal Court Judge.
If you have received a parking citation and feel it was issued in error, or there was some serious reason to justify why you parked the way you did, there is a process to contest the citation.
To contest the citation, you will usually need to pay the fine and submit a letter contesting the citation with a dismissal request. If your initial letter is denied, you will then have a chance to request a hearing with an Administrative Hearing Officer either by Written Declaration or by a Personal appearance.
I have been an Administrative Hearing Officer on contract with Los Angeles County for over 20 years hearing parking citations. Here are a couple of tips you should know if you are going to contest a citation:
Look up the Vehicle Code Section, County Ordinance, or City Ordinance for which you were cited. Too many people just appear at a hearing and don’t really know what they did wrong. Usually when I explain the violation, the respondent realizes that he/she did in fact committed the violation and the appearance at the hearing was a waste of time.
Don’t just have a hearing and state, “I didn’t do it.” I want to believe you, but I need something to support your statement to dismiss the citation. Bring evidence to the hearing or submit it with your written appeal. Pictures, diagrams, witness statements, or any other evidence in your favor would help your case.
Here are some citations you don’t want to get:
Parking in a Disabled Space…not for even 2 minutes while you do something quick. Disabled parking without a valid Placard is $338…an expensive 2 minutes!
Blocking a disabled ramp cut into the curb. These ramps are pretty obvious at intersections, but they also appear in mid-block and other places disabled people may need access over a curb – another $338 fine.
Note: The person who cited you will not be at the hearing.
If you have a hearing and the citation is upheld, and you feel you didn’t get justice, you can then appeal it further to the Los Angeles County Civil Court in downtown Los Angeles. You have 30 days after your formal hearing decision is mailed to you to file that appeal with the Court.
I do find citing officers make mistakes and I do dismiss citations. If you feel you have a good reason to get a dismissal, I encourage you to contest the citation. But, if you just want to get out of the citation and are going to stretch the facts or outright lie, don’t bother…most Hearing Officers are good at getting to the truth!
Contracted Administrative Hearing Officer
Retired, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department