Parking Tickets in the Lehigh Valley

This information is provided by Andrew Theyken Legal, for educational reference only.  Always contact an attorney about your legal issues.

Did you get a Parking Ticket in Allentown, Bethlehem, or Easton?

If you are reading this, you likely got a parking ticket in Allentown, Bethlehem, or Easton.  There are probably a few questions going through your mind, like: (1) do I really have to pay this thing, (2) what happens if I don't pay? and (3) is it worth fighting?

Do I really have to Pay this Thing?

The answer, sadly is yes.  However, take some solace in the fact that you got the parking ticket in the Lehigh Valley and your only out a couple of bucks.  Decades ago, I got a parking ticket in New York City: $150 that I am never going to see again.

My first reaction when I got my $150 ticket was, "I'm not gonna pay this thing, what are they going to do to me?"  But, that was the wrong response.  In Pennsylvania at least, the Rules of Criminal Procedure treat parking tickets (not parking citations written by police officers) as a special class of violation.

Penna. R. Crim. P. 401(A) provides that municipalities may issue parking tickets to inform a motorist that the government believes that the motorist was parked illegally and therefore subject to a fine.  In fancy terms, when you get a parking ticket it is considered to be a civil violation.  If you pay the parking ticket, that's it and there is no long-term record of your civil transgression.

What Happens if I don't Pay the Fine?

Things start to get ugly if you don't pay your parking ticket.  The Rules of Criminal Procedure provide that if the parking ticket is not paid in a reasonable amount of time that the municipality may start a criminal lawsuit against you by filing a citation with a district magistrate.  Once a district magistrate is involved, you are going to have to pay the fine as well as court costs, which can range in hundreds of dollars.

What's worse, is if you don't respond to the summons issued by the district magistrate.  The failure to respond to a summons can result in your arrest.  And in this way a civil transgression could end up with you spending a night in jail.

Can I Fight the Parking Ticket?

Technically yes.  Your best bet is to call the parking authority of the city that you got the ticket and ask what their review policy is.  Usually there is a fairly simple form that you can fill out by yourself explaining the situation.  Or you could go down to the parking authority and throw yourself on the mercy of the clerk.  They may take pity on you---my roomate in college did this all the time and somehow got his tickets wiped clean.  But, more than likely, the clerk is going to look at you askance and just say "next" if that happens, don't make a scene.

If the parking authority refuses to wipe the ticket clean, your only hope is waiting until the municipality files a citation and you get a summons in the mail.  At which point, however, you are now going to have to deal with district magistrate court costs.  At this point, you will probably be wondering why you didn't just pay the $15 ticket.  But, if you have gotten this far on principle, it can't hurt to contact Attorney Bench and he will be able to give you some tailored suggestions for your fight against the man (or meter-maid).

One last thing, if you fight the ticket all the way to the magisterial district judge and loose, you are going to have a criminal record.