How To Be A Good Citizen

I learned something disturbing from a friend the other day.

My friend had received a notice in the mail that they had an overdue parking ticket and that they owed the city of Wilmington more than $100 and that the fine would continue to grow until they paid the money.

So, my friend went to the Department of Finance on the 5th Floor of the Louis L. Redding City/County Building at 800 North French Street in Wilmington, Delaware (zip code 19801).

Apparently the conversation went something like this:


Friend: I just got this notice in the mail saying that I am past due for a parking ticket and I didn’t know I had a parking ticket until just now.

Wilmington Official: Are you here to pay your ticket and late fine?

Friend: Well, yes, I want to get this cleared up, if I had known I had a parking ticket I would have paid it right away – is there any way to take off the late fine, since I’m just now finding out about this?

Wilmington Official: It’s your responsibility to know if you have a parking ticket.

Friend: Wait, are you saying I should call regularly to find out if I have a parking ticket?

Wilmington Official: Yes

Friend: um, OK, that’s good to know in the future, but since this is the first time, can I just pay for the parking ticket?

Wilmington Official: According to our computers, since you haven’t paid the ticket yet, we can boot your car.

Friend: Really?

Wilmington Official: Yes, you are a scofflaw and you probably don’t pay your other bills on time.


When I heard this I was shocked!

I didn’t realize it was my responsibility to make sure I didn’t have unpaid parking tickets, I do not want to be a scofflaw – I want to be a responsible citizen.

I’m sharing this because I believe you, too, want to be a responsible citizen.

So, starting today, we should make sure that we do the right thing:

Call the Wilmington Department of Finance/Division of Revenue at 302-576-2400 between 9:30 AM and 4:00 PM and say the following:

Hello, my name is _____________ and I understand it is my responsibility as a good citizen to make sure I do not have any unpaid parking tickets. Could you please check to see if I have a parking ticket? My license plate number is _____________.
Thank you very much for your help.

Again, if you want to be a good citizen and not a scofflaw, then you should call 302-576-2400 to make sure you do not have any unpaid parking tickets.

Oh, and since we all learn new things from these experiences, I encourage you to share any new information you gain from your phone calls in the comments section.

I hope this effort at public service is useful and effective.



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About the Contributor

Ken Grant

Ken Grant

Ken Grant has spent most of his life in Delaware, loves being in all three counties, works for the only U.S.-based manufacturer of Thin Layer Chromatography Plates, is married to an incredible woman who is willing to put up with his antics and is the father of two teenagers who have agreed to wait at least another 20 years before writing the books about their “adventurous” childhood.


  • Well, if you’re going to do this, you really need to call everywhere you have parked your car, not just Wilmington. It has always been the case, in Wilmington and elsewhere, that the owner of the car is responsible for parking tickets, even if someone removes the ticket. I don’t understand why’re so surprised.

    • I lived in Delaware for 6 years and can’t believe they operate this way.  I have also lived in 4 other states.  I haven’t received parking tickets in all of those states in my life time but do know others that I have.  In these other states it is standard practice for the state to send out a notice in the mail before the due date if they have not already rcvd payment.   They do this in Minnesota, Colorado (the two states I have gotten parking tickets in), Idaho, and Washington. 

  • Wait, something’s unclear here. I think it depends on why he didn’t know he had a parking ticket. Is it because the DMV didn’t send one? If that’s the case, then we’re right to poke fun at them. But is it because he forgot? Or dropped the first notice in the trash before he read it (intentionally or not)? Or some other thing that was his error/choice? I suspect a lot of people say they “didn’t know” they owed money for something and wanted to have the late fee forgiven. Is it OK for me to say I “didn’t know” I was supposed to pay my credit card bill if I don’t open the statement or I lost it under the seat in my car?

  • i would certainly reported the clerk for making the statement “you probably don’t pay your other bills either.”  that was totally uncalled for and not part of her duties. The matter at hand:  Do I have an unpaid parking ticket? and nothing else!!

  • There are some crafty things going on with parking tickets in Wilmington these days, believe me (I got one for parking on the “wrong side” of the street – the ticket claimed a two-way street was one-way, and proving the truth to them took several calls) – but I don’t think “some jerk took the ticket off my car so I didn’t know I had one” has ever gotten anyone out of a late fee. Flooding the joint with calls because one underpaid worker, who gets nothing but crap all day from unhappy people, got snippy doesn’t seem fair.

  • My car was booted earlier this week. When I called the number left on a sign on my car to have the boot removed, I learned that my car had been immobilized because I had 2 outstanding tickets. I had to pay the ticket fees + late fees on the tickets + the boot fee. I am in the process of writing my appeal, as I never received notice of these oustanding tickets. I have received a ticket in the mail once before, (and paid it promptly) so I know the city has the correct address attached to my car. I have no issue with paying my tickets – if I messed up and ran red lights, then I deserve to pay for it. But does anyone have any tips for fighting the late fees and boot fee? I do not believe I should have to pay either, since I was never given the chance to pay the tickets on time.

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