Online Tools Take Some Pain Out of Parking Tickets

Recently, I returned to my car after running an errand and discovered one of those dreaded parking ticket envelopes under my windshield wiper. Yes, the meter had expired, but when I opened the envelope, it was empty. Elation mixed with confusion – had I received a parking ticket or not? Was the empty envelope some sort of parking ticket “warning?” Unsure of whether and how to submit payment without a citation number, I forgot about the incident, and two weeks later a Second Notice of Parking Ticket came in the mail with a $25.00 late charge on top of the original penalty. Grimacing at my own forgetfulness, and the unknown series of events that led the parking meter attendant to leave the ticket out of the envelope, I felt a strong, brief desire to live in Baltimore.
The City of Baltimore, MD has a quick and easy way to look up parking tickets online. Simply enter your license plate number into their online system, and any outstanding parking tickets are displayed. You can then pay the penalty online and be done with the whole thing. No muddling through automated phone systems only to be put on hold while someone manually looks up your citation number so you can write it on your check, and no unpleasant surprises in the mail.
Baltimore is not alone. Washington, DC, Buffalo, NY, and Miami-Dade County, FL are a few other jurisdictions offering an online tool to look-up parking tickets by license plate number, and your town may be next. So, the next time you return to your car in a downpour to find a disintegrating envelope under your windshield, or a parking ticket disappears into your black hole of a glove compartment, visit your state’s page on, choose Online Fine Payments under the Court Resources menu, and see if your jurisdiction is offering an online tool to look-up parking tickets by license plate number.
If not, take heart in the fact that a rapidly growing number of cities and counties, including Ann Arbor, MI, Madison County, AL and Seattle, WA have online tools to pay parking tickets by citation number. At least you can save yourself a trip to the post office, and possibly another parking ticket!

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