Piston Slap: Not My Ticket, Not My Problem?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap not my ticket not my problem
Bryan writes:

A question I’d love to see posed to the Best and Brightest: What to do when you’re sent tickets for a car you’re not liable for?

I just got two tickets this morning, for parking infractions that occurred 9.5 years ago, under a previous owner of a car that I bought 9 years ago. I’m not going to pay them just to quell the payment demands, since I consider this extortion.

So, is it better for me to simply never acknowledge receipt of the tickets, since they’re not my liability? Or will that put a black mark on my credit rating? I’m concerned that trying to rationally explain things to the parking enforcement company will only get me stuck deeper in the problem – they don’t care about the truth, they just want to get paid.

This has happened to my parents twice before, so I think it’s a common problem – but I don’t know what the best thing to do is, and I’d love to see how the Best and Brightest have dealt with it.

Sajeev answers:

When can you ever ignore an infraction from a law enforcement organization?

Well, definitely not here. And it isn’t extortion, it’s a clerical error. Probably. Hopefully.

I had this problem with a car (Fox Body, ‘natch) I once sold, as I never filled out some paperwork with TxDOT that officially released the vehicle from my name. And the kid that bought it? He decided to run it up and down the Sam Houston Tollway with my license plates. So some official TxDOT paperwork sent to the billing peeps at the Tollway cleared it up.

More important point: depending on the people behind those tickets, yes, it very well could hurt your credit rating via collection agency. You need to show proof of ownership (title transfer docs, etc.) and discuss it with the parking enforcement people. If you still think they aren’t playing fair, talk to a lawyer who specializes in ticket dismissal. Of course, all of this depends on your ability to prove ownership of the vehicle after the tickets were issued.

Get the paperwork, who knows what else happened with this car before you had it!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2 of 24 comments
  • Hondaaustin Hondaaustin on Jan 22, 2013

    My story happens like this: I had a car that I had totaled (only had liability ins because it was an old rust-bucket) so I sold it to a company that auctioned the vehicle.... about a year later I received a certified letter from the city of Chicago stating that my car had been impounded because it was parked on a public street with illegal drugs inside. A description of the car was given with VIN (car is now blue, was green when I owned and sold it) So after taking a day off work to send faxes and e-mails and to make phone calls to the city of Chicago, I finally reached a person with the reason I was sent this notice... They send them to the 3 most recent known owners! WHY?!?

  • MadHungarian MadHungarian on Jan 22, 2013

    One thing to check is how many unpaid tickets you can have before your car will be put on the boot/tow list. Even if these old tickets are not themselves enough to get the car towed, they may be eating into your margin of safety, so if you get two other tickets in a short interval and fail to pay them fast enough, zap, your car gets the hook.

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