The Law on Parking Tickets
Parking tickets are infuriating penalties for not having observed restrictions, limits and markings when parking a car. With more than 70 different reasons for why a parking ticket can be given, a huge number of drivers are presented with these fines each and every year. There are a number of rights that are afforded to drivers and several instances when the law is rigid in this area. However, in many cases, it is entirely possible to successfully contest the receipt of a parking ticket.
The following article explains parking tickets more thoroughly, focussing on when they are issued, what rights a driver has and how they might be overturned.
Why would a parking ticket be issued?
There is a multitude of reasons for a parking ticket to be given to a driver, with some of the most common including:
- Parking on double yellow lines
- Parking in a resident bay with no permit
- Parking in a pay and display area without having purchased or displayed a valid ticket
- Parking in bays during restricted times
- Overstaying time limits on paid parking areas
- Parking in spaces reserved for emergency vehicles
In the majority of cases, parking tickets are issued by either traffic wardens or civil enforcement officers (also known as parking attendants). A key difference between a traffic warden and a civil enforcement officer is that the former are employed by the police, whereas parking attendants are employed by the local council.
The type of parking ticket issued will also depend on who presented it:
- Parking attendants issue penalty charge notices (PCN)
- Traffic wardens issue fixed penalty notices (FPN)
FPNs are issued for more serious parking offences such as priority and red-route parking.
Paying for a Parking Fine
Drivers who have received a parking ticket have 28 days to pay the fine or contest the ticket. In the majority of cases, if the driver pays the fine within the first 14 days, the fine amount is halved. If the offence was caught on camera, the driver has an extended period of 21 days to pay the reduced fine.
In more serious cases, the car can be clamped or towed and in order to release it, the driver will need to pay the fine immediately. A vehicle should only be clamped or towed by an attendant if a penalty charge notice (PCN) was issued and a minimum of 30 minutes pass. If the driver of the car is a repeat offender, the attendant can tow or clamp the vehicle after just 15 minutes. The fees for towing and clamping can be appealed in the same way as a parking ticket.
Appealing a Parking Ticket
Appeals for parking tickets are generally very successful, with around two thirds of appeals seeing the ticket being overturned. The initial step for drivers to take should be to make an informal appeal. This can be done by writing to the local authority to explain why there are grounds for an appeal. Ideally, any supporting evidence should also be sent, such as receipts, copies of paid tickets, photos or any witness statements. If this appeal letter is sent within 14 days of the ticket being received, the discount for early-payment is usually frozen.
If an informal appeal is unsuccessful, the driver should appeal formally, and this is referred to as ‘making formal representations'. The council will advise the driver on how to do this if they reject the initial appeal. If the formal appeal yields no successful outcome, the driver will receive a notice to owner (NTO) and this demands that the original charge be paid. The NTO also offers information on how an appeal can be made to independent adjudicators. The driver is given 28 days from the issuing of the NTO to appeal or make a payment. If neither action is taken, the council is legally entitled to increase the fine by 50%. If payment is still not received, the case will be referred to bailiffs following registration at the county court.
Appealing a fixed penalty notice is somewhat more in depth as FPNs are issued by the police. Some police forces will allow the owner to make an informal appeal within 14 days of receiving the FPN. They will request an explanation as to why it is believed that the ticket is unwarranted and any evidence that supports the case. If the informal appeal is unsuccessful, the matter will need to be escalated to the court.
These type of tickets are a matter for the criminal justice system, and in order to appeal, the vehicle owner must bring their case before a court and plead not guilty.
Appealing a parking ticket on private land will mean that the owner goes through the Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA). POPLA is the authority that covers England and Wales and there is no such service in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Before contacting POPLA, the vehicle owner should make an appeal to the owner of the land or administrator of the car park concerned. This appeal must be made within 30 days of the ticket being issued. If the direct appeal is not successful, the case can be forwarded to POPLA. Only carparks that are part of the British Parking Association (BPA) or the Approved Operator Scheme (AOS) are eligible for POPLA case referrals. POPLA will request evidence from the motorist and parking attendant and an independent adjudicator will determine whether the fine was appropriate or should be overturned. If it can be proven that the parking attendant breached the BPA's code of practice or contract law, the parking ticket should be overturned.
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