Parking tickets are one of the hazards of modern motoring. But if you’re given one and you think it was in error, you can appeal them. And experts reckon there’s a one in 15 chance that you could get off.
Don’t be put off by the thought that when you appeal parking tickets you’re taking on a council with endless resources. The success rate of appeals varies dramatically around the country so you might be lucky and have a council that’s lenient/can’t be bothered.
Parking tickets are a fiddly business and it’s impossible to cover all the nitty gritty in one post. As the majority of parking tickets are issued by councils, this guide is aimed at appealing Penalty Charge Notices. We’ll do another post to cover how to appeal a Parking Charge Notice (from a private operator).
Different types of parking ticket
First of all look carefully at the parking ticket. There are different types, each of which has a different appeals process.
Penalty Charge Notice (dealt with here): issued by councils through the Civil Justice System. The PCN can be given by parking attendants or through cameras.
Parking Charge Notice: this looks almost identical to a PCN, apart from the p-word. But it’s actually an invoice for a breach of contract rather than a penalty. Issued by a private company.
Fixed Penalty Notice: this is given by the police if they catch you parked in a way that obstructs traffic, is dangerous, or on a red route.
Be honest, did you make a mistake?
Did you forget the time or think you could stay longer than you really could? Was your wheel up on the kerb? Or were you outside the bay markings? Not all parking attendants have got it in for drivers. You may not want to hear this but some award tickets fairly. On occasion. When you’re considering appealing, take the sentiment away as any appeal will be reviewed by someone impartial and not emotionally involved.
Are there technical grounds for an appeal?
If you’ve been given a ticket, rather than driving off in fury, it’s worthwhile working out if the ticket has been given fairly. Scrutinise the ticket. Are the day, date and time correct? And have they got your car registration number right? Check that the road markings are clear and that the signposts display the correct information.
Remember also that you have a 10-minute grace period after the pay and display ticket runs out. And if your car broke down in the car park or conked out at the side of the road when the attendant gave you the ticket (as long as you can prove it), there are legitimate grounds for appeal too.
What evidence do you have?
You’re gathering evidence to support your case when someone looks at it from an impartial viewpoint. Take photographs of any unclear signs or road markings and show the position that your car is in. Even take pictures of areas where there are no signs, if you believe signs should be there. Keep any paperwork that may help you. It might prove that you were on holiday and couldn’t have committed the offence. Or a crime reference number might show your vehicle was stolen. If there are any witnesses, get their details too.
Act promptly. If you plan to appeal, DON’T pay the ticket – that’s admitting liability. What’s more, if you dispute the ticket informally within 14 days, you should still be able to claim the 50 per cent discount. Authorities usually freeze the early payment discount period until you receive a response.
If the informal appeal fails, you can either pay the fine or make a formal appeal. The council must respond within 56 days or you win by default. If your appeal isn’t successful, you will receive a ‘notice of rejection’. You can either pay the fine (sadly at the full rate) or take it to a tribunal.
A tribunal is an independent adjudicator. In London this will be London Tribunals. Elsewhere in England and Wales it’s the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. This is a free service and you don’t have to attend in person.
Links to make life easy for yourself
To find out more about parking tickets and more specifically, appealing them, the following are useful resources:
The website Appealnow.com is good too.
And the government offers advice here.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.