Writing Advice: Parking Ticket Appeal Letter

What You Say When You Write An Appeal Letter For A Parking Ticket: Sample Letter
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.

If you write a parking-ticket letter, it’s helpful to read a  sample letter, if you can find one.

Below is a very real letter that I wrote last year.  It worked, and the City of Boulder never cashed the check that I sent with the letter of appeal.

Read the letter first, then my commentary.  The composition of the letter is based on important sociological and psychological principles that you should be able to put into play in your letter.

Sample Letter: Parking Ticket Appeal

CITY OF BOULDER, COLORADO MUNICIPAL COURT

TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS BUREAU

Dear Sir/Madam:

By this means I should like to appeal the parking ticket that I received on 10-12-10.

My parking spot was not marked as a pay-to-park spot.   I was a tourist who made a special trip to Boulder to shop and have dinner.  If I had known, I would have cheerfully paid.

After finding the ticket on my windshield,  I bound that there was a meter in the middle of the block.

If you intend to enforce this ordinance fairly—which is what good law is based on–you should place some kind of marker on every parking spot that is a pay spot.

The meter plan is actually a good one, but you should mark or paint the spots, especially since you are a tourist destination.

I am enclosing a check and am counting on your sense of fair play not to cash it.

Yours truly,

Ticket Appeal Letter-writing Advice

  • State the reason for your letter at the very beginning.  Don’t make the reader have to search for it.
  • Be reasonable.  If you sound irrational, there is little need to write the letter. In the above letter, I wrote: “If I had known, I would have cheerfully paid.”
  • Give them a reason to help you.  I appealed to Boulder’s desire to be a premier tourist destination.  A tourist destination does not want bad advertising.  I identified myself as a tourist.
  • Pay the fine by check or credit card.  They may not cash your check or process your credit card information.  But you don’t want to risk being assessed legal fees in case your appeal is rejected.
  • Appeal to the better angels of people’s nature.  I’m a fan of Abraham Lincoln, and that’s what he did over and over.  In fact he used the phrase in his first inaugural address.  City officials, like all of us, can be petty, vengeful, and greedy.  But they, and we, also have the capacity to be generous and fair.  In the above letter, I wrote,  “(I am) am counting on your sense of fair play.”
  • Don’t get your hopes up.  You may be the victim of a ticket mill, in which case greed will trump fair play.  But it is almost always worth writing a ticket appeal letter if you base your letter on sound principles, and spend just minutes, not hours, on the letter-writing.


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