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Appeal a Parking Citation/Ticket

Parking citations are not criminal offenses. They are civil penalties which are the joint and several liabilities of both the owner and operator of the vehicle. Once a citation is issued, it is up to the driver or owner to respond to the facts presented on the citation. There are three (3) levels of appeal/review. Each step in the appeal/review process must be taken in order and initiated within strict timeframes. No step can be skipped in favor of jumping to another step.

Step 1 - Administrative Review

The first step is an Administrative Review to determine if the citation was validly issued. This allows the agency to dismiss the citation if there are facts, events or circumstances which were unknown to the issuing officer that may affect the validity of the citation. The issuing agency may also feel that extenuating circumstances make dismissal of the citation appropriate in the interest of justice. Pursuant to State law, requests for Administrative Review must be received (postmarked) within 21 days from the date the citation was issued, or within 14 days of the mailing of the Notice of Illegal Parking.

To submit online

To submit your Administrative Review online answer the following:

  1. Is the information on the citation accurate?
  2. Did the driver comply with the relevant parking regulation?
  3. Were there mitigating circumstances that prevented the driver from complying with the relevant parking regulation and, if so, did the driver take reasonable and timely steps to cure the violation?

If the answers to all of these questions are "no" there is little choice but to uphold the citation at this level of appeal/review.

(see Administrative Review Results and Guidelines)

Common reasons that DO NOT support dismissing a citation are:

  • I was only in violation for a minute.
  • I did not know that I could not park there.
  • I think the fine is too high.
  • I did not see the sign or curb markings.
  • I cannot afford to pay the fine.
  • I have never had a ticket before.
  • I will never do it again.

The owner and driver of the vehicle are both responsible for the parking citation and bear the burden of proof when contesting the citation. Notice of the decision will be mailed to you regardless of the outcome and further instructions given if necessary.

Persons appealing their citations may present anything they wish to support their position that the citation should be dismissed. This may include statements, charts, diagrams, photographs, drawings, maps or receipts just to name a few. It is also important that the citation number, vehicle license plate number and state be included with the request. A clear copy of the citation attached to the appeal is beneficial and may expedite processing. We suggest you retain copies for your records.

Submit by Mail

To submit your Administrative Review by Mail, send your written request and supporting documentation to:

PO Box 129038, San Diego, CA 92112-9038

Although no special forms are necessary, please be as brief and concise as possible. It is important that the citation number, vehicle license plate number and state be included with the request. A clear copy of the citation attached to the appeal is beneficial and may expedite processing. We suggest you retain copies for your records.

No payment is required at this time.

Step 2 - Administrative Hearing

If your appeal is denied at the first stage, you can present your appeal to an Administrative hearing officer. This is the second step of the appeal process. State Law requires that the fees due on the citation be deposited at the time the hearing request is made. The City will present a copy of the citation and any additional statements, photos, etc. provided by the officer in support of the citation. We encourage your attendance at the hearing in case the hearing officer has any questions. However, if you are unable to attend, the hearing officer will review all the information presented and make a decision.

When Parking Administration is notified of the hearing officer's decision, we will mail a decision notice. Should the citation be dismissed, Parking Administration will refund your fee deposit. If the decision of the hearing officer is not to your satisfaction, the decision can be appealed to Superior Court.

Step 3 - Superior Court Appeal

The Administrative hearing officer's decision can be appealed to the Superior Court. When doing so, a $25 Civil Court Filing Fee must be paid. The Court takes a fresh look at the facts surrounding the issuance of the citation, and the materials presented in support of having the citation dismissed. Once a decision has been given by the Court, there is no further appeal. The Court's decision is final. If the citation is upheld, the Court keeps the $25 Civil Court Filing Fee and Parking Administration keeps the citation fees previously deposited to satisfy the citation. However, if the citation is dismissed, Parking Administration refunds the $25 Civil Court Filing Fee and the fees deposited on the citation.