Living in Boston, Massachusetts, which is, I believe, the parking ticket capital of the world, I get more parking tickets per year than most get in a lifetime. We actually budget $1,000 a year to pay parking tickets. One might ask: Why not just park legally? And while in your town, that might make sense, in Boston, that is sometimes impossible.

There is resident parking almost everywhere, so unless you live in the Back Bay or the South End or the North End, you're out of luck and have to pay for a $15 garage. Since a ticket is only $30, if you're running late, then there it is. And don't even get me started on street cleaning. Forget one morning and you're out $50.

And amid all those parking tickets, I only ever got out of one. One! Moving violations, on the other hand, are another story. I got a lot of those and they're (sometimes) easier to get out of. So here are 10 tips for beating down a ticket:

Before the officer has written it:

  • Pull over: No matter how much you think it's smarter to get to another part of the road that seems safer, the officer won't be kind if you try to do anything that seems like evasion. Pull over (to the right) immediately after he turns on his lights. 
  • Be polite: Police officers hate nothing more than belligerence (believe me, I learned this the hard way), so be polite, courteous, and quick on the ball when he asks for license and registration.
  • Don't cry: I don't care how cute you think you are. I have seen the cutest women in the world not get away with this one (especially with a female cop). If you cry on accident, try to cover it up and don't milk it. It makes you look bad.
  • Play dumb: This is one tactic that has worked for me, though I wasn't playing it. I actually didn't know that my registration had expired. He didn't ticket me, but I renewed it the second I got home because he only gave a warning.
  • Be honest: If you know you ran that red light, then tell him why you did it. Maybe you have a good reason and he will buy it, but even if you don't, he may just appreciate your honesty enough to let you go.
  • Don't beg: Sure, you want a warning, not a ticket. We all do. But begging and pleading will get you nowhere. Be polite, contrite, and helpful, but don't beg him not to ticket you. It will only induce a power trip.
  • Don't make excuses: Unless you have a really obvious one, don't try to make up excuses or lie. The cop will know and he or she won't like it. If you were speeding, you can say you didn't know. But don't say your odometer is broken or try to insult their intelligence. It won't work.
  • Act "lawyer-ly": Ask him to clearly print his name on the ticket and get out afterward to take notes on the scene, location, weather, time, traffic conditions, positions of cars, etc. This subtly tells the cop you're going to contest it and he may just issue a warning.

After the ticket has been issued:

  • Contest it: This only sometimes works for parking tickets, but it often works for moving violations. If the cop doesn't show, your chances are even higher, so right there, you have an advantage. I have never contested a ticket I didn't get out of eventually.
  • Look cute: This one may not work for the men (sorry guys), but for the women, it doesn't hurt to dress up and look cute. Why not use every tool in your tool box here? Don't look tarty, but look professional, respectful, and as pretty as you can muster.

How do you beat a ticket?


Image via MSVG/Flickr