Parking tickets issued from public and private firms may or may not require payment
Parking tickets can be frustrating to receive and daunting to deal with as they are all labelled differently and have varying fines. There are certain parking tickets that you are obliged to pay but there are also some that you don’t have to. Distinguishing them is, however, difficult as they all come in a small yellow rectangle attached to a windscreen. Peter Goodchild, a solicitor and Associate Professor at The University of Law, has created the list below to help drivers understand the types of fines that can be issued, and the different rights and options you have after receiving them.
Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or Excess Charge Notice (ECN)
If your fine is labelled as one of these – and it should be written clearly if so – it has been issued by the council due to a violation on public land, such as a high street or council car park.
These are backed by the law and shouldn’t be ignored. You have 28 days to challenge or pay either of these fines, and if you do so within 14 days and your challenge is rejected, there’s a chance you will only have to pay 50% of the amount – so don’t wait!
Be sure to appeal, if you can prove any of the following:
• You were parked correctly – For example, if your fine says you overstayed your time in a carpark, but you can prove you didn’t – contest it.
•Road markings or parking signs were unclear – if signs are hard to read, not present or misleading, then you have the right to appeal your fine.
• No CCTV signs – if your fine is sent in the post and there were no CCTV or Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) signs in place, you cannot be fined.
• No way to pay – If the parking meter is broken and there’s no alternative, you cannot be rightfully fined as this is not your fault.
•You were overcharged – When you receive a PNC or ECN from the council, the amount will fall into either a higher or lower band. Serious offences such as parking on double yellow lines will fall into the higher band, whereas smaller violations such as parking for longer than you should, will fall into the lower band. If you were charged a higher band amount for a lower band offence, appeal this with the relevant council.
• You were not driving the vehicle at the time – If you can prove you weren’t driving the vehicle at the time of the offence, your ticket should be cancelled.
• You couldn’t get back to your vehicle – For those who find it difficult to walk due to a disability, or those who are pregnant or have a young baby, you can appeal a fine under The Equality Act 2010. This act means you should be treated with understanding.
• You have broken down – You should not be expected to move a broken-down vehicle in order to adhere to parking rules.
• You were only a few minutes late – Local authorities in England should legally offer a 10-minute grace period.
Penalty charge notices are issued by the council
Parking Charge Notice (PCN)
Due to the similarity in their names, it’s easy to get a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) confused with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) – but don’t be fooled. While the first is issued by the council and should therefore be addressed as quickly as possible, the latter is issued by a landowner orparking company as a result of a violation committed on private land.
Often issued in hospitals and supermarkets, Parking Charge Notices (PCN) are not as easy to enforce as those distributed on public land, due to them not technically being fines, but invoices. The only way parking companies and landowners can enforce them is by taking you to court, which is normally too costly for them.
If you receive a notice like this though, don’t ignore it. Firstly, you need to find out if the company trying to charge you is registered with the British Parking Association (BPA) or International Parking Community (IPC). If registered, they have the right to issue a parking fine and the power to access your details from the DVLA to pursue the charge. Without this registration however, they not only have no legal right to fine you, they also have no way to chase you down.
A Parking Charge Notice (PCN) issued by anyone with the right should be taken seriously and should be addressed as quickly as possible. You can appeal on the same grounds as those laid out for a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) but beware the appeal process may differ from company to company.
Things to be aware of:
· Without a court ruling, landowners and parking companies cannot legally send bailiffs to your house – no matter what they say.
· Clamping your vehicle without legal authority is against the law in England, Scotland and Wales and is punishable by a fine of up to £5,000. If this happens, call the police.
· You have zero obligation to pay at the time of the event, so don’t be pressured into it.
· When appealing to a landowner or parking company, be sure to check their specific appeal process by heading to their website as they may differ.
Tips for avoiding tickets:
Avoid getting slapped with a fine with these handy tips:
· Take pictures – if a sign is faded, or a parking meter is broken, take a picture with the date visible. This will significantly help you with your appeal later down the line.
· Double check the parking rules – find the appropriate parking sign before parking up, and make sure you can adhere to them. If you can’t, don’t park there!
· Document any confusing points – if you come across unclear or confusing parking rules, document this again with a photograph. Don’t let your case be dropped due to insignificant evidence.
· Don’t drop someone off at a bus stop – this is a common thing people get caught out for, and one that’s pretty easy to avoid. Don’t fall victim to it and always find an appropriate and legal place to drop off.
· Never park with wheels on the pavement – again, something a lot of us are guilty of, but parking with wheels on the pavement is a road violation – don’t do it.