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Can I Park at a Broken Meter?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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The rules about parking at a broken meter vary, depending on the municipality. As a result, it's not possible to provide a definitive answer as to whether or not you can park there without getting a parking ticket. Your local department of parking and transportation will be able to tell you if it is OK to park at a broken meter or not, and if you dislike their policy, feel free to lobby to change it.

In all cases, departments of parking and transportation rely on motorists to report broken meters. If you see a meter that is obviously damaged, you should report it, and you should also report meters that do not appear to meter time properly, or meters that are jammed. You may also want to leave a note on the meter to warn other people, especially if the meter ate your coins. You can report broken meters directly to the department of transportation, and to passing police officers.

In areas where it is not permissible to park at a broken meter, broken meters are typically bagged with bright plastic to attract the attention of meter repairmen, and the plastic may have a notice which includes a warning that it is not legal to park there. In these areas, motorists who choose to park anyway run the risk of getting a ticket, and in some cases they may be towed. If you are a visitor and you park at a broken meter that has no such notice, you may be able to avoid paying the ticket by arguing that you were unaware of the city policy, but don't count on it.

Other cities have more relaxed rules, asking motorists to report broken meters and allowing motorists to park at broken meters. This is common in congested urban areas, where open parking spaces would likely be taken up anyway, and a restriction on parking could cause congestion. In these cities, motorists are typically allowed to park at a broken meter for the posted time allowed; for example, if the meter is in a two hour zone, the motorist may park for two hours, but not longer.

In the event that you park and don't realize that the meter was broken, as might happen in the case of a meter which doesn't meter time properly, you are likely to be forgiven, especially if you report the problem. You may also want to be aware that tampering with meters can result in some hefty penalties, up to and including jail time.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WikiMotors researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Leonidas226 — On Mar 03, 2011


I think that it shows a lack of legal responsibility to try to take the broken meter spot and not pay for it or let the authorities know it is broken. Depending on the officer, you could get overlooked for it or you could get in big trouble due to his or her indignation. I would say that the safest bet is to tell someone about it.

By JavaGhoul — On Feb 28, 2011

First of all, I would say that you need to make sure that the parking meter is legitimately broken. I don't mean break it, but check to see if it is still functioning in any manner. Then, you can make a decision. This meter is either broken and un-repaired because it has not been checked lately, in which case, you could probably park anywhere. Another possibility is that you could get framed for breaking a parking meter. It is important to be aware of the legal procedures and limitations in the area where the meter is placed.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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