I came across the following NYC article from on the internets whilst researching the situation for ATX:


The original law recognized the injustice of installing a new parking sign while cars were parked in spaces regulated by the old sign, and issuing parking tickets based upon a violation of a parking sign that didn’t exist when people parked their chariots. Horrible but true.

As per the above, in NYC, it appears that there are currently explicit laws on the books that prevent installing the sign and issuing the parking tickets on the same day/week that the sign gets installed, and/or providing an affirmative defence for issued tickets.

What about other jurisdictions, specifically, Austin in Travis County, in Texas? Wouldn't an appropriate notice and grace period be required for the cars parked under the old signs (or lack thereof) provided that the new signs are respected within XX hours? (All other local laws in ATx did seem to have similar provisions, e.g., it was widely reported that at first only the warning was to be given for violating the hands-free ordinance.)

1 Answer 1


In general, you don’t need an alternative defence. It is inherent in the common law that, unless the statute is explicitly retroactive (and legislators are reluctant to go there) it cannot make illegal that which was at the time of the act, legal.

For example, assume the old sign had unlimited and the new sign reduces this to 2 hours. If you parked before the sign was changed you could leave your car there forever so long as you never move it.

The NYC law give further rights - a period of grace where the owner can rely on the old restriction as a defense, even if they parked after the sign had been changed.

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    But the moment the parking sign is in place then parking there is illegal, isn't it? They cannot fine you for the time before, of course.
    – SJuan76
    Mar 19, 2018 at 22:32
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    Are you saying that the NYC law is, basically, somewhat redundant, and people could still have affirmative defences for same-day violations even before the law was put on the books? Obviously, they aren't going to issue tickets before the signs are actually erected. The planning process of erecting the signs generally takes 6 months or so. But once erected, how long of a grace period can one expect before being eligible for a sound parking ticket?
    – cnst
    Mar 19, 2018 at 22:43
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    @SJuan76 At the time you did the now illegal act (parking) it was legal to do so. You would still be bound by the law as it was as to duration etc.
    – Dale M
    Mar 19, 2018 at 23:33
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    @DaleM, are you trying to say that if I never move my car where a new parking sign gets erected, I can effectively park there indefinitely?! What if I return back to check on my car and/or pick up something from it — would it still remain legal to leave it parked as long as it's never physically moved?!
    – cnst
    Mar 20, 2018 at 1:15
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    I can't imagine a real situation where there would truly be unlimited time public parking - public streets will have to at some point be swept, plowed, or closed for other reasons, and such forced removal of parked cars is going to be allowed by local ordinance under the correct circumstances. Mar 20, 2018 at 17:26

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