If you’ve ever received a parking ticket, you may have wondered if it will have an impact on your credit score. If you’ve been diligently handling your finances and rebuilding your credit, it would be pretty disappointing to see your hard work undone by a parking ticket.

While it’s a good idea to pay your parking fines for all kinds of reasons, here’s some good news: Parking tickets can no longer affect your credit score, thanks to recent changes in credit reporting rules jointly published by the three major credit bureaus (the “joint rule”).

What happens when you don’t pay the fine

Municipalities have all kinds of ways to make you pay for parking violations: They can threaten to double your fine if it is not paid within a specified period. If you have multiple violations, they can slip a boot on your wheel, rendering your car immobile. Even worse, they can tow your car to the impound lot.

Often, they will turn your unpaid debt over to a collection agency, which then applies its persistent collection practices on you.

One thing they can’t do anymore, though, is damage your credit score.

New rules for collection agencies

Thanks to the 2015 National Consumer Assistance Plan, collection agencies can no longer report unpaid debts to the credit bureaus that did not arise out of contracts or consumer agreements. This includes parking tickets.

This specific part of the new joint rule took effect on June 15, 2016. Before that date, collection agencies could potentially get civil judgments against debtors, which would then be reported to the credit bureaus. In this way, how parking tickets affect credit could be a punishing drop in one’s credit score — perhaps by as much as 100 points.

No more.

This and other changes to credit reporting rules are designed to improve credit report accuracy, and the result may be an improvement in some Americans’ credit scores. As of July 1, 2017, public tax lien and civil judgment data that do not conform to the new data standards are also excluded from credit bureau reporting.

Why it’s still a good idea to pay that fine

Parking tickets are an unfortunate fact of modern life. Cities issue them to allocate what is often a scarce resource. Governments also rely on the revenue they raise from parking fines, so they are typically aggressive and unrelenting in writing tickets.

It is difficult to contest a parking fine. For many, it is not worth the time to fight it, even if they feel they were unfairly issued a ticket.

Parking tickets are not criminal offenses. They are what are called “strict liability offenses.” So far as the law is concerned, it’s irrelevant whether you intended to park illegally or not. If your car is in the wrong place at the wrong time, you’re probably going to have to pay.

There are some exceptions. Perhaps you can show that a parking meter malfunctioned, or that there’s a major mistake in the way the ticket was written. Or maybe you can provide photographic evidence of your innocence. If you can spare the time to sit in line for a hearing, by all means fight. But, usually, the easiest course of action is to just pay.

You never quite know when or how an unpaid parking ticket could come back to haunt you. In some states, for instance, unpaid parking tickets can prevent you from renewing your driver’s license.

One thing that won’t happen, though, is a drop in your credit score.

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