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Can unpaid parking tickets land you in jail?

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If you drive in New York City, you are undoubtedly no stranger to parking tickets. After all, even if you intend to park legally, some parking rules are downright confusing. If you do not pay your parking fines on time, you are far from alone.

According to reporting from Gothamist, New Yorkers chose not to pay roughly $100 million in parking tickets between 2012 and 2019. Fortunately, by themselves, unpaid parking tickets are not likely to land you in jail.

Additional fines for failure to pay

If you fail to pay your parking fines, you may be in store for additional fines. That is, officials are likely to tack on late penalties and other fees. If they decide to refer your unpaid tickets to a collections agency, you may have to pay collections costs too.

Eventually, unpaid parking tickets may lead to the suspension of your vehicle registration. If you drive without valid registration, you may be guilty of a misdemeanor offense. Upon conviction, you may be in danger of serving some time in jail.

Potential booting and towing

In New York, parking officials can aggregate your parking tickets. Consequently, if you own more than one vehicle and have too many unpaid parking tickets, officers may boot any or all of your cars. Removal of a vehicle’s boot comes with an added cost, of course. If you do not address the issue promptly, officers may tow your car.

It is important not to try to remove the boot on your own. If you do, prosecutors may file charges against you for the destruction of public property. Like with driving without valid registration, a conviction for the destruction of public property may come with jail time.

Ultimately, while it is unlikely you will go to jail for unpaid parking tickets, it is advisable to explore all your legal options before your situation gets out of hand.

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