Whether your ticket was wrongly issued or you accept responsibility for a bad parking job, nobody likes the idea of getting a parking ticket. Some tickets are relatively inexpensive as well, which often leaves violators asking, “Is it really so bad if I don’t pay the ticket?”
What happens if you don’t pay a parking ticket in Canada?
If you don’t pay your parking ticket on time, your ticket amount could be increased. Once enough fees rack up on your account, the city may tow or boot your car until you pay your balance.
Parking meters and tickets are one of the primary ways that Canadian cities generate revenue and fund local projects. Below, I’ll explain what could happen if you don’t pay your ticket and give you some tips to avoid penalties.
We’ve all been there before… You’re cheerfully walking down the street with a hot coffee in your hand, looking forward to a pleasant drive home. All seems well until you notice a little slip stuffed under your windshield wiper.
The extra five minutes you stood in line waiting for your coffee caused your meter to expire, and the city gave you a ticket.
Sometimes, parking tickets just seem flat-out unfair.
Regardless of how fair (or unfair) the ticket may seem, though, you still have to deal with it. Generally, you’ll have between 15 and 35 days to either respond to the ticket or contest it (if you don’t agree with it).
Each city and municipality has its own rules regarding how quickly you’ll need to pay for your ticket. The payment date should be listed on your parking ticket, so make sure to mark it down in your calendar, so you don’t miss it.
Toronto is, by far, the biggest city in Canada. In 2021, the Toronto Parking Authority generated over $93 million in parking ticket revenue alone.
The city of Toronto also only gives parking violators 15 days to settle their parking tickets. Essentially, they’re given such a short time to pay the ticket that they don’t have time to think about not paying it.
Vancouver may not be the biggest city in Canada, but it is one of the wealthiest cities in the country. As such, the city parking authorities don’t play around when it comes to tickets. Like Toronto, you’ll only have 15 days to pay or dispute your parking ticket in Vancouver.
Say what you will about traffic in Montreal, but at least they give you a bit more time to pay your parking tickets! If you received a parking ticket in Montreal, you’ll have up to 30 days to pay or dispute it.
What Could Happen If You Don’t Pay Your Parking Ticket On Time
Not paying a parking ticket certainly isn’t the worst crime you could commit, but there are still consequences.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve missed my fair share of parking ticket payments. I don’t know what it is, but the tickets are just too easy to misplace or forget about! Sometimes, I wonder if they were intentionally designed this way to encourage recipients to forget about the ticket and have to pay even more.
In all seriousness, though, forgetting to pay your ticket could result in some less-than-savory circumstances, such as:
- Late fees
- A parking boot the next time you park in the city
- Your car getting towed next time you park in the city
- A hand-delivered ticket or court summons
- Reminder by mail
1. Your Ticket Amount Could Increase (Late Payment Penalties)
The most common consequence of not paying your parking ticket is that the amount of your ticket could be increased. If you don’t pay by the date specified on your ticket, then the city parking authority may attach a specified late fee to the ticket itself.
Sometimes, the late fee will be charged as a percentage of the total ticket, which could be quite expensive if you have a costly parking ticket.
2. Your Car Could Receive A Parking Boot
Not paying a single ticket probably won’t result in this drastic consequence. However, if you’ve accumulated multiple tickets or have allowed your late fees to rack up to a high amount, then the city parking authority may place a parking boot on your wheel.
These boots are illegal to remove or tamper with and effectively prevent you from driving your car away. Attempting to drive away while a boot is attached to your car can cause permanent (and severe) damage to your car, so please don’t try this (like my friend in university did)!
Once you pay the ticket amount, a parking officer will be dispatched to your vehicle’s location to remove the boot.
The kindest reprimand you may receive is a friendly reminder in the mail to pay the parking ticket. These reminders are typically issued to individuals who have smaller tickets. However, the reminder may also come with a warning of potential late fees and further consequences if the ticket isn’t paid.
If you’ve accumulated a large amount of parking ticket debt or have a substantial ticket that you have yet to pay, then you might receive a not-so-friendly knock on your front door. If an officer has to come to your home to deliver your ticket, there’s a chance that it may also come with a court summons to attest to why you broke the law and ignored the ticket.
If you fail to make it to the listed court date, then the city may warrant an issue for your arrest, which is something that is definitely worth avoiding.
Last but not least, the city may choose to tow your car to an impound lot if you fail to pay your parking tickets. Once again, this penalty is typically reserved for those who have accumulated tickets or have a long history of not paying their tickets.
Sometimes, your car may also be towed if it’s parked in an illegal or inconvenient position (i.e., blocking a driveway or fire hydrant).
Generally speaking, you’re not going to get arrested for failure to pay a parking ticket. However, if you continue to ignore your parking ticket for an extended period of time, then arrest could be placed on the table.
Before you’re arrested, the city will dispatch an officer to hand-deliver your ticket and/or a court notice regarding your case. If you fail to respond to this or show up at court, then the city may have you arrested.
If you have outstanding parking tickets, you’re probably wondering whether or not it will affect your tax refunds. For example, if you owe the CRA money, it will be deducted from your tax refund and any other tax credits you may be receiving.
Thankfully, parking tickets shouldn’t be deducted from your tax refund. Certain provinces (such as Alberta, for example) have petitioned to have parking ticket balance taken out of the provincial portion of the tax refund. However, these laws haven’t passed and haven’t been given further consideration.
When you miss payments on a traditional bill, you’ll usually receive a negative mark on your credit report, which can ultimately reduce your credit score. Parking tickets, on the other hand, have no effect on your credit, and won’t impact your score or credit rating.
The parking authority isn’t always right. It’s not uncommon for a rookie parking enforcement officer to issue an erroneous ticket. This is why parking tickets always give individuals an opportunity to contest the ticket in traffic court.
If your dispute is resolved in your favour, then you could avoid paying the ticket altogether!
If you want your dispute to be taken seriously, though, you’ll need to provide evidence.
Whenever you receive what you believe to be an erroneous parking ticket, make sure you take a detailed video and multiple photos of the car, parking lines, and any surrounding signs or meters.
It’s a good idea to have the timestamps feature activated on your camera too, so the date is clear.
Today, most cities in Canada allow you to pay your parking ticket over the phone or through an online payment system. Some cities may also allow you to mail a cheque or money order in the mail to the payment office.
Missing a single parking ticket payment is far from the worst thing you could forget. However, it’s a good idea to go ahead and pay the ticket before late penalties are applied or you have to face a court date with an officer knocking at your front door.
Looking to make some extra money to help pay off your ticket? Why not try rideshare driving as a side hustle? Keep on reading to see my breakdown of how much money Uber drivers in Canada earn!