Just about everyone has been there: you walk out to your car and see an envelope under your windshield wiper. All at once you feel confusion, frustration, and maybe even a little worry, because you’ve just gotten a parking ticket.

A lot of questions will probably run through your mind after getting a parking ticket: were you actually at fault? How much will this cost? Can you fight this? Is it worth fighting this? Try to relax. You absolutely have the option to fight a parking ticket. Before you get ahead of yourself, though, there are some things to consider before contesting your citation.

Plan before you plead

Know that if you choose to pay your ticket, you are effectively pleading guilty. This will not add points to your driver’s record, but it may increase your insurance premiums, among other things.

If you decide to contest your ticket, you can generally find contact information of the individual to call on the ticket itself. Once you make the call, you are agreeing to appear before a judge to contest the ticket. Your court date will most likely also be printed on the ticket itself, otherwise you will be issued a hearing date by an official.

Know the laws

In the time leading up to your hearing, you will want to prepare. An experienced attorney can be a major help when you contest anything in court; their knowledge of laws is an asset. They will know how to leverage laws in your favor to give you the best outcome possible.

You will want to consider what evidence you have, and how you can use it to contest the citation. Spend time learning your local traffic laws and developing an argument for your attorney to refine and use in court.

For example, say you were issued a citation for parking in a no parking zone. The actual situation, however, was that you were in your running car at the time, and waiting for a friend. Additionally, while you were waiting, you were applying the brake to stay stationary, rather than being in park. In this scenario, you may have a strong argument to have your case dismissed.

Each case is different, and a lawyer is often the best counsel to seek when you’re considering contesting anything in court. It never hurts to gather as much information as you can.