475,106 Mistakes: When Tickets are Issued Under False Pretenses


The City of Chicago generated over $27.5 million in revenue from tickets issued under false pretense between 2012 and 2018.

In Chicago, many parking restrictions change according to space, time, and weather factors, resulting in the issuance of erroneous tickets. A review of nearly 3.6 million tickets, cross-examined with administrative information from the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS), Department of Transportation (DOT), and Office of the City Clerk, identified almost half a million erroneous tickets. Of the seven reasons for erroneous tickets, the leading was street cleaning parking violations, parking in a restricted residential zone, and parking at an expired meter in the Central Business District. The findings also showed where erroneous tickets were issued, who issued them, how much money they generated and which communities were most devastated.

You can read the full report here.

Key Findings:

  • More than 1 in 8 tickets were issued when they should not have been.
  • Although patrol officers wrote fewer than 18.5 percent of the parking tickets, they committed 24.8 percent of the errors.
  • Four of the five communities with the most erroneous tickets include areas where at least 60 percent of residents identify as white.
  • Only seven percent of erroneous tickets were contested city-wide; communities with a majority of LatinX residents only contested tickets three to four percent of the time.
  • 22 percent of erroneous tickets were subjected to late penalties, including a 22 percent collection fee; erroneous tickets issued in majority Black spaces incurred late penalties over 40 percent of the time.
  • Over 2,313 erroneous tickets were tied to someone’s financial ruin.
Kasey Henricks, Chris D. Poulos, Iván Arenas, Ruben Ortiz, & Amanda E. Lewis
Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy