My former landlady just sent me a photo of the violation, which is overdue now. I didn't have a parking ticket on my car. I didn't park on the red zone as the ticket says. I don't have a photo proof of course (who would think that?!) neither the ticket has a proof.

Ticket is now $185 and I have no intentions to pay that amount. What is the long term consequences of unpaid parking ticket? I'm not US citizen and I don't live there anymore. I most likely won't go to California anytime soon in my life.

What are my options?

  • 5
    Voting to migrate this question to Expats.SE as it's unlikely for a traveler to face such an issue.
    – JonathanReez
    Sep 14, 2015 at 8:56
  • 7
    A tourist rents a car may face a similar issue, like this travel.stackexchange.com/questions/55403/… Sep 14, 2015 at 8:58
  • 1
    If your question is how to pay the ticket, it's a duplicate. If your question is what happens if you don't pay, it's a duplicate: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/3330/…. If your question is how to dispute the charge, it probably belongs on Expats.SE.
    – JonathanReez
    Sep 14, 2015 at 9:00
  • It doesn't explicitly explain the consequences of unpaid parking ticket. I'm asking that and process to contest a ticket from California from a non-resident point of view. For example it's now overdue but I don't live there, couldn't know it was overdue. I can surely ask on expats as well if that's the process. Sep 14, 2015 at 9:05
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    Is it possible that it keeps you getting a driver's license in California or possibly in other states as well, in these networked times? My gf had a pending case in NY from the 80s and couldn't get a license in Oregon in 2014. But it was more than just a parking ticket. No court order though. They had "put a hold" on her license which transpired to most states in the union. (It's possible and potentially useful even for a tourist to get a license. I do that frequently when we are in the US.) Sep 14, 2015 at 10:35

2 Answers 2


Option 1:

Do not pay. Nothing will happen. The fine will increase to around double that, and then they will either just cancel it or expedite it to a collection agency.

For that small amount, the costs grossly outweigh the benefits. Going after you financially in your home country is very very unrealistic – no matter what various morally high horse internet users will tell you.

You will be able to go back into the US without any problems. If you are stopped in California you might end up paying the fine.

Immigration is NOT linked with minor traffic offenses. Unless there is a warrant out for you. Then you could have a problem.

From the official US Visa page:

Travelers with minor traffic offenses, which did not result in an arrest and/or conviction for the offense, may travel visa free, provided they are otherwise qualified. If the traffic offense occurred while you were in the United States and you have an outstanding fine against you or you did not attend your court hearing, it is possible there may be a warrant out for your arrest and you will experience problems when applying for admission into the United States. Therefore, you should resolve the issue before travelling by contacting the court where you were to appear.

However, I am willing to bet that noone has ever had a warrant out on their arrest for a single parking fine.

Option 2:

Pay the fine. You will be able to go back into the US without any problems.


http://www.ustraveldocs.com/dk/dk-niv-visawaiverinfo.asp http://www.ladot.lacity.org/whatwedo/parking/parkingtickets/index.htm

Not official:

http://www.driverabroad.com/self-drive/foreign-speeding-and-parking-fines/ http://www.visajourney.com/forums/topic/382598-are-minor-traffic-violations-considered-as-crime-and-should-be-mentioned/ http://faq.visapro.com/A2-Visa-FAQ11.asp

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    It is funny how you can't enter the States when there's a warrant from a court, which means they are looking for you :) Thank you for the detailed info. How about the contest process? I'll call them in the morning. I'm thinking the arguments that I can use. Sep 14, 2015 at 9:10

As well as the option to ignore the ticket or pay the fine, you have the option to contest the ticket. There are several ways to do this.

One is to simply write back to the people who sent you the ticket and explain that you do not believe you committed the offence. Most traffic tickets have a form to return, and an option to contest it. If you can give some kind of supporting evidence or explanation, even if it's just "I was out of town that day", they may just drop it. Also check the ticket very carefully. I know someone who got off a ticket because the cop wrote the wrong date on it.

Second way is to pay one of the firms that contests tickets for you. They all just play the odds, sending someone to formally oppose the ticket at your hearing, and betting that the cop who ticketed you won't show, but they are cheap. They mostly cost you nothing if they don't get you off.

Third way of course is to hire a California lawyer. That will certainly cost you more than $185, and I don't recommend it.

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