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Cars are useful and necessary in modern life, but all vehicles eventually need to park somewhere. However, spots aren’t always available, and when someone parks illegally, they usually get hit with a parking ticket. Some cities charge more for parking violations, and the cities with the highest fines probably won’t surprise you. 

The 3 cities with the highest parking ticket fines

A parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in New York City
A parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in New York City | Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

According to Investopedia, the cities with the highest parking violation fines tend to be huge urban centers with limited parking space. And unsurprisingly, one of them is New York City. Nuances abound in the rules, so navigating all the signs and laws can be a confusing experience. But, for example, someone who has parked in a space where it’s not allowed could receive a $115 fine.

Perhaps surprisingly, parking fines are higher in Chicago, Investopedia reports. For instance, parking in a fire lane or bike lane can cost $150. The Windy City also issues $200 tickets for wrongfully parking in disabled spots. But like NYC, Chicago has many rules that drivers must follow.

Last, San Francisco issues hefty fines for illegal parking, Investopedia says. Drivers can get a $110 ticket for parking in a truck-loading zone. And like Chicago and NYC, San Fran has a lot of other rules to follow. For example, one of the more serious violations is obstructing traffic without a permit. Anyone doing that could get a $1,000 ticket.

How much money do these cities make from parking fines?

With dollar amounts as high as those, these cities make plenty of money from collecting parking fines. According to TopView, New York collects the most money from parking tickets. Officers collect about $550 million in fines a year. However, many fines might be uncollectible. For instance, in 2016, about $600 million in parking tickets were written off for that reason.

Chicago is in second place, with about $260 million collected annually.

However, third place doesn’t go to San Francisco. It goes to Los Angeles instead. LA collects about $150 million a year in parking fines, while San Francisco collects about $90 million. This isn’t too surprising, as NYC, Chicago, and LA are huge cities with millions of residents. But San Francisco has just under 900,000 people.

That’s why it’s a better idea to look at per-capita collections. In that regard, San Francisco is in second place by TopView’s calculations. That city collects about $98.80 in parking tickets on average per person. In fourth place, Chicago collects $97.20 per capita. Finally, NYC is in sixth place, with $63.20 on average per person.

Cities that collect the most per capita

Though those three cities have the highest parking fines, they don’t actually collect the most per capita. That distinction goes to Baltimore, which collects about $62 million in parking tickets per year. That’s $100.87 on average per person. 

The metro area with the third-highest parking ticket revenue per capita also isn’t a surprise. According to TopView, Washington, D.C.. collects about $68 million a year in parking tickets. That translates to $98.27 per capita.

And last but not least, the city with the fifth-highest parking ticket revenue per capita is also in the Northeast. Boston collects about $58 million a year, equal to $83.37 per capita.


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