Last Updated on September 16, 2021 by Lawrence Berezin
How to beat a fire hydrant parking ticket
An NYC fire hydrant parking ticket is one of the iconic parking tickets of all time. Battle-scarred residents of New York City will always insist that they parked their chariots more than fifteen feet from the hydrant. While myriad visitors to our fair city lament that they didn’t realize there was a fifteen-foot no-fly zone or there was no yellow curb.
Beating an unjust fire hydrant violation is a beautiful thing, but doesn’t come easily. You better be ready to do your homework and prepare a series of exhibits that present your story persuasively.
I’ve had a bunch of good luck battling these costly orange epistles, and I’d like to share some tips with you that set my clients free.
The “Place of Occurrence” is parking ticket gold
Each and every required element is important. But, there is a required element di tutti element. And that’s the place of occurrence for fire hydrant parking tickets.
I can’t tell you how many times a warrior misdescribed the location of our client’s car. By that I mean, the place of occurrence must identify a specific location that is within 15 feet from a fire hydrant. If not, you win.
Don’t waste your valuable time trying to prove you parked in a different location because a judge is not going to find your testimony persuasive in a “he-said-she-said” battle of locations. The warrior will win that fight every time.
Instead, if a warrior enters a location on your parking ticket that is not within 15 feet of either side of a fire hydrant, make the misdescribed place of occurrence work for you. Show the judge proof that there is no fire hydrant within 15 feet.
How to present the proper proof properly
Your goal is to tell a parking ticket judge a story with your exhibits that persuades him that you did not park your car within 15 feet of a fire hydrant. When a judge looks at your photographs (with captions) he should feel a sense of familiarity. Just like he’s walking through the neighborhood where you parked your car.
What happens if the fire hydrant was invisible?
This defense is a little tricky to present. The above image with all the garbage piled on top of the invisible fire hydrant was sent to me by one of my proud friends. He fought the ticket and won. Case dismissed!
However, I recently fought an invisible fire hydrant parking ticket that was covered by an orange construction cone and lost. The judge found us guilty.
The facts in both cases revealed the judge’s rationale. In the garbage case, my friend didn’t live near the location of the invisible fire hydrant. And, garbage is not a permanent obstruction. In other words, the pile of garbage was only hiding the fire hydrant for a few days and there were no facts that showed my friend ever visited the location or knew there was a fire hydrant at that location.
On the other hand, in the case, I lost, my client lived only two blocks from the hidden fire hydrant and the judge inferred that she knew there was a fire hydrant at the location.
I beat a fire hydrant parking ticket with this series of exhibits
Click on the first exhibit to view the gallery
There is a lot of stuff you gotta know to make sense out of the fire hydrant rule. For example:
- A passenger car is permitted to stop, stand, or park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant during sunrise to sunset, as long as a licensed driver remains seated behind the wheel with the keys ready to move the car on the request of a person authorized to ask you to move
- A commercial vehicle can never stop, stand or park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, whether occupied or not
- You may be found guilty of a fire hydrant violation even if the hydrant was totally invisible.
- A parking sign specifically permitting a vehicle to park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant is a defense to a fire hydrant parking ticket
And the beat goes on.