There are few things more annoying for the motorist than returning to your car only to find a parking ticket tucked under the windscreen wiper. Most of us like to consider ourselves good, law abiding drivers, so it is a shock as well as an inconvenience to discover that we have apparently done something wrong. Millions of new and used cars receive parking tickets across the UK every year, on public roads and in car parks. Even vehicles on trade plates are not exempt and can be fined. It’s no wonder that motor trade magazines and websites are full of advice on how to contest your ticket.
If you feel you have been treated unfairly, it is possible to challenge the ticket. Some rulings are easier to overturn than others. The first step is to take note of which type of ticket you have received. There are three kinds of parking ticket, issued by different authorities, and the action you can take is different for each.
Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) are issued by the police for minor traffic offences, such as disobeying a red traffic light or treating a box junction incorrectly. Parking FPNs will be issued if a car is parked in a potentially dangerous manner, for instance on a red route, or within the zigzag lines at a pedestrian crossing. FPNs can add points to your licence, which may affect your insurance policy, and you may also have to show the police your driving licence. The only way to appeal against an FPN is by challenging it in court. You will receive a summons and have to attend a hearing. If you are not successful, court fees may far exceed the original fine.
Today, most parking offences on roads and public land fall under the remit of the local authority, or Transport for London within the capital city, rather than the police. Local authorities will issue a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). You have 28 days from the date of the ticket to pay the fine or make an appeal. Usually, if you pay within 14 days, the fine is halved, which can discourage drivers from contesting the ticket. However, if you contest the ticket within 14 days, but your appeal is turned down, you should still only have to pay half the amount. You can contest a PCN online or in a letter. If your challenge is rejected, you will need to pay the fine or make a formal challenge. Reasons to challenge a PCN include unclear signage, incorrect or worn road markings, if your car could not be moved because it had broken down, or if you did not own the car at the time of the offence. Include as much evidence as you can to support your claim, for example, photographs of the parking space, or a police report proving your car had been stolen. If the formal challenge is also turned down, and you believe this is unjust, you can appeal to an independent tribunal.
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The third type of ticket is issued by parking firms for parking violations on private land, usually a car park. These Parking Charge Notices tend to cause the most resentment, as they are perceived as coming from a source with little or no real authority. To challenge these tickets, you can write directly to the company, contact any umbrella organisation they are part of, for instance the British Parking Association, or go to that organisation’s trade body. It is possible that private companies will not pursue a contested ticket, and many drivers feel it is worth trying. Even if the attempt fails, making it can make you feel better. Ultimately, you will have to decide whether contesting your ticket is worth the time and potential expense it will take, or if you should simply pay up and avoid making the same mistake in the future.