Parking rules exist to prevent chaos and, fortunately, most people follow them. But that doesn't mean you have to. Here's eight tips that'll help you to park wherever you want.

We learned how to avoid the world of parking regulations at the University of Texas at Austin, which has a population of approximately 70,000 students, faculty and staff and a parking inventory of around 7,000 spaces. With only 1 space per 10 people it isn't surprising the University gives out more than 75,000 parking violations per year, or one parking ticket every seven minutes.

With no money for a garage parking pass and a need to park our Ford Escort somewhere, we learned the ancient art of parking wherever you want without getting towed or ticketed. As a public service, we're sharing these tricks with you. Some of these techniques require a special car, all run the risk of getting booted and some of them may not apply depending on your local parking rules, regulations and enforcement policies, so use them wisely.


1.) Use Your Hazard Lights

It seems obvious, but most people will avoid calling a tow truck if they see emergency lights blinking on a car. The assumption is you're just running in to grab something or drop something off and they'll usually just pass the vehicle. If you're feeling extra brave, open the trunk or hatch and leave it open.

This trick usually doesn't work with parking enforcement officer, though, as they "chalk" your car's tires every 15 minutes either with real chalk or digitally on a PDA (as a side note, if you see chalk on your tires erase it immediately). Also, if your battery isn't fully charged you could end up with a dead battery and a parking ticket.
Photo Credit: Flickr


2.) Make Your Car Look Like A Service Vehicle

Locksmiths, plumbers and delivery vehicles can park just about wherever they want because, it's assumed, they belong there. If you drive a truck or a panel van, making your vehicle look like a service truck could be as easy as applying a vinyl sign proclaiming "Vick's Plumbing Service" or "M&H Delivery" or what-have-you. Make sure to put your real phone number on any fake graphics so you can move the vehicle if someone calls or, more importantly, so the police don't get suspicious and call the bomb squad.

If you drive a car this is even easier to pull off. Having delivered pizzas for a living we can honestly say we never worked with anyone who received a parking ticket while delivering food. Making your car look like a pizza delivery vehicle is as easy as getting one of those light-up magnetic pizza signs off of eBay, where they currently sell for less than $50 before shipping.
Photo Credit: Flickr

3.) Recognize Unenforceable Regulations

There are many parking spots reserved or groups or individuals as an unenforceable courtesy. For instance, many grocery stores and department stores have "expectant moms parking" for pregnant women. Though a few of these stores require you to register your license plate and make/model, most people won't tow a car if they think it belongs to a pregnant mom. If you plan on doing this frequently you may want to throw in a car seat and a copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting just for kicks.

If someone sees you're not a pregnant mother they may get angry and key your car, but it's the risk you take for the best parking at Safeway. If you live in California, you can put a fake hybrid badge on your vehicle and park in special hybrid parking.
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4.) Identify And Subvert Authority

Most security or parking enforcement apparatuses are extremely hierarchical; privates report to sergeants, sergeants to lieutenants, lieutenants to captains and so on. The key to subverting this authority is to recognize the lowest level member of an organization and getting them on your side. As you move up the chain of command there's more authority and more knowledge and you don't want to have to BS someone who actually knows something.

For example, if you want to pick something up from Target but don't want to fight over a space in another zipcode, just deputize the shopping cart collector to watch your car. Park your car right in front and wait for the overworked and underpaid employee to pass by with a train of carts. Hop out of your car and, as you're walking the other direction, yell "Hey, I've gotta pick up the thing from Tony. Make sure no one screws with it" and walk away before anyone can stop you.

The employee, fearful of losing their crappy job, is then forced to make sure no one messes with the car. You've created a stakeholder. If the security guard strolls by on a Segway the employee will vouch for your car even though they don't know who you are or why you need to park there.

5.) Get Elected To Local Office

Gangs watch out for their own members and there ain't no better gang than the government. Most public officials have magical parking passes that say "official city business" they can throw in any vehicle they want. A city cop isn't going to give a city councilman a parking ticket.

In college we were elected president of the student union and were given the coveted F (for faculty) permit and a garage parking pass. We could park almost wherever we wanted. It was awesome. Most counties have dozens, if not hundreds, of elected positions. Many of these positions are nonpartisan and unopposed, which means you can win just by showing up.
Photo Credit: Flickr

6.) Make Fake Credentials

Too many tax problems to get elected to public office? Try creating a fake, all-purpose credential. We don't recommend creating a fake government credential as, in most places, this is probably illegal. Instead, create a fake VIP parking pass. We did this numerous times in college and it worked every time.

The key to a good fake credential is detail and production value. A crappy piece of paper printed out on your dot matrix printer won't cut it. Laminate the same piece of paper and all of a sudden it looks official. If you feel really adventurous, buy a pack of baseball cards and take the holograms off of the cards and glue them to your pass. No one messes with a hologram. A less adventurous option is a fake barcode.

In addition to making your fake credential look legitimate with nice printing and fake holograms, you should provide an extreme amount of detail. Leave spaces to hand write in your license plate, make/model, a space for a signature and warnings like "NOT TO BE USED ON WEEKENDS" or "PASS VALID ONLY BETWEEN 12:00 AND 20:00" convenient for your needs. To go the extra mile add this line: For More Information Call Tony @ PSFD: 555-2203. This way, someone can call your cellphone if they have a question about your car and you can either BS or know you need to run back.
Photo Credit: Flickr

7.) Fake A Disability

How easy is it to get a disability parking permit? In most states, such as Florida, a Nurse Practitioner or a Chiropractor can get you a disabled one for $15 or a permanent one for free. There's paper work to fill out so either you have to be a great actor or have a totally sketchy health provider. Also, this makes you a schmuck.
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8.) Accept Parking Tickets

What's the best way to avoid a parking ticket? Already have one on your car. As long as you aren't in a tow-away zone, handicap parking spot or anywhere blocking traffic you're more likely to get a ticket than towed or booted.

We once received a ticket in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for $10. It was probably cheaper and easier to take a ticket than trying to find or pay for parking all day. Plus, once you get the first ticket most municipalities won't ticket you again until 24 hours later. It's like an almost free day of parking.
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Taking on the complicated web of parking rules and laws isn't easy and carries considerable risks. We don't suggest undertaking any of these tasks and, if you do, prepare to face the consequences. That being said, if you have any other, even better strategies, include them in the comments below.

Top Photo Credit: Flickr