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Frequently Asked Questions

Who issues Philadelphia Parking Tickets?
There are a number of different agencies that issue parking tickets including the Philadelphia Parking Authority, the Philadelphia Police Department, SEPTA Police, Temple University Police, University of Pennsylvania Police and the Philadelphia Housing Authority Police.

Why are the fines so high for some violations?
Fines for parking violations are set by City Ordinance. Ordinances are enacted through the legislative process in Philadelphia.

Why are the fines higher for the same violation in different locations?
In December, 2008 an Ordinance created different fine levels for certain violations depending on location. Violations in Center City and University City have higher fines for certain violations than the fines for those same violations outside those boundaries. See Chapter 12-2809(2)(b) of the Philadelphia Code for more detail.

Why are the fines $1 higher than the amounts set forth in Chapter 12-2809?
The Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code (Title 75, Section 6507) provides for a $1 surcharge on every Philadelphia parking ticket.

I paid my ticket. Why am I still getting notices?
Most often, it’s because payment was received late. Payment in full must be received within the time frame specified by law or late penalties are applied. It does not matter that the check was dated before the deadline or that the payment was mailed before the deadline. The only date that matters is the date received. Payments received at the lockbox (PO Box 41818) are batch processed with the date on which those payments were received at the lockbox. Pay-by-Web and Pay-by-Phone payments are applied in real time.

What are the late penalties?
Regardless of the amount of the original fine, there are two late penalties for parking tickets. Unless answered by payment in full or proper appeal, the first late penalty is applied 10 days after the first mailed Notice of Violation (or 90 days after issuance if name and address information is not returned from the motor vehicle records). The second late penalty is applied 10 days after the first late penalty.

For tickets issued through November 22, 2013, the first late penalty was $25 and the second late penalty was $30. Those penalty amounts were changed when Bill 130562 was enacted. See City Code §12-2809(1). For tickets issued on or after November 23, 2013, the first late penalty is $30 and the second late penalty is $35.

My son/daughter/sister/brother/friend/room mate/ex husband/former employee had my car when the ticket was issued. Can I provide his or her name and address and you can go after them instead of me?
No. Except under certain conditions for car rental companies, the registered owner (or lessee) is responsible for parking tickets.

I just cannot afford to pay. Will there be consideration of my financial hardship on appeal?
Financial hardship is not a valid defense. You may qualify for a payment plan if you are unable to pay in full. Call 888-591-3636 for more information. In general, the amount owed must be over $125, you must make a down payment of 25% and you must provide an eligible credit card, debit card or checking account from which automated monthly payments can be electronically withdrawn. The minimum monthly payment is $20 and the maximum term is 12 months.

Do I have to appear in person to appeal a ticket?
No. There are basically three ways to appeal – in person, by mail and by web upload. Obviously an in person hearing provides for a face to face exchange with a hearing examiner and that’s not possible with an ex parte (without the parties present) hearing. However, most cases can be thoroughly evaluated on the strength of written testimony and documentary evidence if that is presented in a clear, complete and well organized package.

Who has what burden of proof?
The City’s burden of proof is the parking ticket itself. If properly issued, meaning that all of the required items of information about the violation observed are recorded on the ticket and a business copy of the ticket is in front of the hearing examiner, the City has met its burden of proof and in order to prevail on appeal it is then up to the respondent (the person appealing) to present through testimony and/or physical evidence a case that the ticket was not validly issued.

What is the standard of proof?
The standard of proof is by the preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the fact sought to be proven is more likely than not to be so.

Do I need a lawyer?
There is no requirement for representation by a lawyer, though you are certainly entitled to be represented by legal counsel. Most respondents appeal without legal counsel.

Who can represent the registered owner in an appeal?
It can be anyone that the registered owner authorizes to do so, keeping in mind that whoever that is will be utilizing the registered owner’s appeal opportunity and in the end the registered owner bears responsibility for the decision.

Is there a time limit to appeal a ticket?
Yes. You have one year from the entry of default in which to appeal. In general, if there is no response or an inadequate response, the entry of default is 4-5 weeks after the issuance date, so in rough terms you have 13 months from the issuance date. Tickets beyond one year from the entry of default are no longer eligible to be heard, regardless of the merits of the defense.

If I chose to appear in person, how long will I be there?
That depends on a variety of factors and in some instances, the wait time can be long – worst case might be two hours.

You’re kidding, right?
Unfortunately, no. Roughly half of the people who schedule hearings do not appear and so we overbook to account for that. But that does not mean that for every 15 minute time slot of every day that exactly half will not show up. In addition to scheduled hearings, we are required to provide walk in (on demand) hearings for anyone who has been booted or towed and the number of those types of hearings and what time those will walk through the door varies widely and are impossible to predict. It is not always that bad. Best case is probably a 15 minute wait. Some days are better than others. Early mornings and late afternoons are generally better in terms of wait times.

When will my in person hearing happen?
Roughly three months after receipt of request.

Can I reschedule my in person hearing?
Yes. For a regular scheduled hearing you can reschedule twice.

If I chose to be heard by mail or via web upload, when will my hearing occur?
Four to six weeks from receipt of your submission.

Is there any filing fee for a hearing?
No.

Do I have to pay my ticket first and then ask for a hearing?
No. Payment is a guilty plea. Do not pay if you intend to appeal, but do not delay your appeal or late penalties may be assessed.

What happens to my ticket while my hearing is pending?
Once scheduled, or when a document set has been received for an ex parte hearing, a suspend is placed on the ticket or tickets involved until a decision is rendered. No penalties not already assessed will be added and no noticing or collections activity will take place while the suspend is in effect. If you fail to appear for a scheduled hearing, an adverse decision will be entered, any pending late penalties will be assessed and collections efforts will commence.

Is there any assistance offered for hearing impaired persons?
You may request a sign language interpreter for a scheduled in person hearing. Call 888-591-3636 to schedule your hearing and at the same time make arrangements for a sign language interpreter to be provided.

Is there translation service offered for persons who do not speak English?
No language translation services are offered. You may bring someone with you to your in person hearing to translate for you.

Who will hear my case?
A hearing examiner who is full time employed in that specific role by the City of Philadelphia Bureau of Administrative Adjudication.

How many hearing examiners are there?
Presently there are 14 and of those eight are on the appeal panel.

What if I disagree with the decision?
You may appeal the decision of the hearing officer, but you must do so very carefully. As prescribed by law, you must serve your appeal by certified or registered US Mail and it must be received at the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication within 30 calendar days of the date of the original decision. You cannot successfully file for appeal of the original decision in person, by email, by fax or by any other forms of mail or delivery, or by sending to the wrong address (such as the payment processing lockbox). You cannot successfully file for appeal if you do so late, and the only date that matters is the date on which it is received – not the postmark date. Appeals defectively filed will be returned by first class mail with the reason for rejection. If you wait until day 27 to file your appeal and you get it wrong, there will not be sufficient time for you to cure the defect and get it back in on time.

If I file my appeal successfully, what happens next?
Your case will be scheduled for an appeal hearing. Regardless of how you chose to be heard initially (in person, by mail, etc.) you can choose to appear in person (or have an authorized person appear on your behalf) or you can elect to have your appeal evaluated on your written testimony and evidence. However you elect to proceed, your appeal of the original decision will be heard by a hearing examiner from the appeal panel and it will not be the same hearing examiner that made the original decision. You cannot reschedule an appeal hearing. If you indicate intent to appear and do not, the appeal hearing examiner will review the case based on the records available and render a decision that you will receive by first class mail.

Can I reschedule my appeal hearing?
No. If you can’t make the scheduled time, you may come earlier or later that same day (as early as 8:30AM or as late as 4:30PM). You can also elect to submit written testimony and/or documentary evidence in lieu of appearance as long as that is received within 3 business days after the scheduled hearing date. If on the date of the scheduled appeal hearing you have a bona fide emergency that prevents your attendance, you may call 215-683-9580 and request appearance within the next few days.

If I disagree with the second decision, what recourse do I have for further appeal?
You will at that point have exhausted your appeal opportunities within the City’s adjudicatory structure. As with any “agency decision” of a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you may appeal that decision within the Court system. Should you wish to make an appeal of the City’s interpretation of the law or decision in any matter, you may do so by filing with the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. There is a filing fee.

Can’t the hearing examiner look up the City’s own records?
No. Hearing examiners cannot obtain evidence on your behalf. The only evidence that will be considered is what you submit or present. It is up to you to obtain and present your own evidence such as photographs, police reports, etc., that may be helpful to your defense.

If my vehicle was stolen when a ticket was issued, am I responsible?
Generally no. Obtain and present a legible copy of the police stolen vehicle report (the report number alone is not sufficient) that shows the date and time of theft as well as the date of recovery. If the vehicle was not recovered (never found or not found yet at the time of hearing) you may also need to provide documentation that shows that. Regardless of where you live or where the vehicle is registered, the stolen vehicle report is with the city or township in which the theft occurred.

If my vehicle’s license plate was stolen when a ticket was issued, am I responsible?
Generally no. Obtain and present a legible copy of the police stolen plate (tag) report (the report number alone is not sufficient) that shows the date and time of theft as well as the date of recovery. If the tag was not recovered (never found or not found yet at the time of hearing) you may also need to provide documentation that shows that.

The vehicle owner is deceased. What happens with those tickets?
Nothing until someone responds on behalf of the late registered owner. Obtain and present an original death certificate and any unresolved tickets up until the date of death will be dismissed, unless there is a co-owner of the vehicle who survives the deceased.

I had a medical emergency. Is that a valid excuse?
It can be, but it’s not automatic. If you had a heart attack and were taken from the scene by ambulance to a hospital and have documentation to support that, you will likely prevail. If you have a known medical condition but did not take reasonable precautions to prevent an emergency, you’re less likely to prevail. If you rush to the hospital to support a loved one who had a medical emergency and you were not directly involved in emergency transport or life saving care, you are unlikely to prevail with that excuse.

My vehicle broke down. Is that a valid excuse?
It can be, but it’s not automatic. Could you have reasonably prevented the breakdown? For instance, running out of gas is unlikely to be sufficient excuse unless you can prove that sudden failure of the gas gauge was the reason that you ran out of gas. Did you take reasonable steps to respond to the breakdown? For instance, you parked at a meter on a street with a PM rush hour restriction. You parked at 10:00AM and fed the meter until noon. At 11:50AM, you discovered that the battery was dead. You left the car there and at 4:30PM you got a ticket for No Stopping when the rush hour restriction came into effect at 4:00PM. That breakdown, no matter how well documented, is unlikely to be sufficient basis for dismissal as you had ample time to get the car removed before rush hour.