Fire hydrants are prevalent on the bustling streets of New York City, as they serve the important purpose of keeping citizens safe during certain emergencies. Considering that so many of these small yet important structures are strewn along the streets—and are oftentimes obstructed from your view—they can be easy to miss.
What Do NYC Traffic Rules Say About Parking Near a Fire Hydrant?
New York City has stringent guidelines regarding parking in front of a fire hydrant. According to Section 4-08 of the New York City Department of Transportation Traffic Rules, no person “shall stop, stand, or park a vehicle within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant.”
The rules further state that if you’re driving a vehicle, you may “stand” it alongside a fire hydrant between sunrise and sunset—that is, if you’re sitting behind the wheel, keys in the ignition, ready to immediately start the car and clear the way for access to the fire hydrant under the following circumstances:
- If you hear a firetruck approaching
- If a police officer, fire officer, or member of another municipal department requests that you move
In other words, you cannot leave your vehicle unattended within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant at any point between sunrise and sunset, and certainly not overnight.
What Is the Cost of a Fire Hydrant Ticket in NYC?
The cost of a ticket for parking within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant in NYC is $115.
This price may seem exorbitant given the circumstances. After all, no emergencies occurred while you were parked in front of the fire hydrant, and you didn’t cause damage to another person’s property. The fire hydrant also may have been hidden from your view when you unknowingly chose to park near it.
So why is this ticket so expensive? Concern for safety is one answer. If a fire begins and a firefighter does not have sufficient room to access a fire hydrant because your car is blocking it, it could put the lives of many at stake.
You might also ask—why are traffic tickets in NYC so expensive in general?
Reasons Traffic Tickets in NYC Are Expensive
One of the primary reasons that traffic tickets in NYC are so expensive is administrative fees. Some of these fees can include:
- Court fees – The courts are responsible for processing the tickets, and they can add on fees to the original value of your traffic ticket when you choose to pay it via mail.
- State surcharge and local municipality fees – In many NYC traffic ticket cases, the amount you’re ultimately fined can be more than double or triple the amount of the original ticket you were issued due to a state surcharge and local municipality fees.
Can I Get My Fire Hydrant Ticket Reduced or Dismissed?
According to the NYC Department of Finance—which handles the processing for all parking tickets—you must respond to a parking ticket within 30 days of receiving either the ticket or a Notice of Liability. You have two choices in terms of how to respond:
- Pay the fine.
- Challenge it.
If you feel that you were unfairly issued a citation for parking within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant, you may be able to challenge it by getting it reduced or dismissed.
How to Fight a Fire Hydrant Ticket in NYC
There are three ways in which you can request a hearing to challenge a parking ticket in NYC.
- Online – You can request a hearing online once your violation is processed by the Department of Finance. Visit NYCServ to request a hearing for your parking ticket.
- By Mail – You can request a hearing via mail. A drawback with this method compared to requesting a hearing online is that it’s not as fast in terms of processing. It’s important that you mail your hearing request within a reasonable timeframe—the Department of Finance must receive your request within 30 days, otherwise, you may accumulate late penalties which you’ll have to pay.
- In Person – If you visit a Department of Finance Business Center, you can have a walk-in hearing. Walk-in hearings are typically held Monday through Friday during normal business hours (but you should check that their availability remains the same during the COVID-19 pandemic). Find the Department of Finance Business Center closest to you on the department’s official website.
What to Bring to Your Hearing
You’ll need certain documents at your hearing to challenge your parking ticket. These documents are:
- Your driver’s license
- Your vehicle registration or title
- Any evidence to support your claim that you don’t deserve the ticket, such as:
- A map, diagrams, or drawings – These serve to indicate where your vehicle was located when you were issued the ticket.
- Photo/video evidence – Visuals in which certain elements are visible (e.g., your vehicle’s location, parking signs, building addresses, and street names) may aid your case.
- Witness statements – If witnesses can attest to where your vehicle was located when you were ticketed, having their statements on hand can be helpful.
- Other pertinent documentation – It’s a good idea to bring any documentation that can show your vehicle was not illegally parked within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant—examples are police reports, parking space or garage receipts, or bills from repair, towing, and insurance companies.
How Do I Appeal a Hearing Decision Regarding My Parking Ticket?
It’s possible that you may be displeased with the judge’s determination after your hearing, and you wish to appeal it. You can request a second hearing to appeal the decision within 30 days of the preliminary hearing.
Appeal hearings are held at the Manhattan Business Center.
What Are the Consequences of Not Paying or Appealing a Ticket Within 30 Days?
It’s important to note that if you do not respond to the ticket or Notice of Liability within 30 days of receipt, you are subject to an increase of fines and other penalties. Potential penalties for unpaid tickets include:
- Fines can be withdrawn from your tax return.
- Your credit score can be negatively impacted.
- The state of New York can seize your car and sell it.
- You can be subject to creditor harassment if your unpaid tickets are sent to a collections agency.
- You can be divested of your vehicle to varying degrees after you accrue substantial fines relating to parking and/or camera violations you’ve received. Potential scenarios include:
- Your vehicle can be towed.
- Your vehicle can be booted—this is when a boot (a large metal device) is attached to one of your vehicle’s wheels to inhibit you from driving it.
- The state of New York can confiscate your vehicle and sell it.
If you choose not to act by not responding to the NYC Department of Finance after receiving your parking ticket, you risk the serious penalties listed above.
Why It’s a Good Idea to Have an Attorney Represent You
It’s your right to plead “not guilty” to a parking ticket in NYC. It’s also your right to have legal representation when you choose to challenge the ticket and attend a hearing.
The process of challenging a parking ticket is daunting and complicated. Many people choose to pay the ticket instead of dealing with the appeals process, even if they believe they didn’t deserve the ticket. Others fail to act and suffer from harsher penalties.
Enlisting a skilled attorney to defend you at your hearing is a wise decision, as they can support you throughout the entire process, advise you on how to conduct yourself at your hearing, and present your case intelligently to the presiding judge.
Call Us Today
Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. is ready to review your case and counsel you regarding your options when you’re facing charges for traffic violations in New York or New Jersey. Founding attorney Martin A. Kron is a former traffic court judge who understands the system, knows how to build your defense, and can aid you in avoiding additional penalties and fines.
We’re here to take the weight off your shoulders by helping you fight.
Call us today at (212) 235-1525 or submit your information here to schedule your free consultation.