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Parking tickets: get your money back!

Parking tickets: get your money back! EVERYDAYLIFEMODERN/Flickr

Getting parking tickets is annoying and expensive. Parking tickets (otherwise known as Penalty Charge Notices) are on the up across the country. They’re a great source of income for local councils but many parking fines are charged unfairly. If you think you shouldn’t have had a PCN, you can appeal and get it quashed in our guide on how to challenge a parking ticket.

Lots of drivers don’t realise that they have the right to challenge an unfair penalty and have it seen by an independent adjudicator. The Traffic Penalty Tribunal‘s latest statistics show that currently over 60% of appeals result in the motorist not having to pay the penalty, so if you know you’re in the right it’s worth appealing.

Councils now have the power to issue tickets by post within 28 days, so there’s a good chance you won’t get the ticket for several weeks after the alleged offence (and therefore possibly lose the chance to get evidence together to defend yourself). But try not to be too disheartened; the Traffic Penalty Tribunal says that the burden of proof is on the council who must show on balance of probabilities that a parking offence occurred.

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Things to know about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs)

Lots of changes have come in recently (including a name change for traffic wardens to the very official sounding title of civil enforcement officers).

  • The first thing to know is that, unlike a speeding ticket, it doesn’t matter if you weren’t driving the car when the PCN was issued – if you’re the owner then you’re liable (unless your car was stolen!).
  • If you do receive a ticket, the council has to include information about how to appeal against the PCN – so make sure you use this information, it’s your right!
  • You’ll be given a choice: pay it within 14 days (in which case you’ll get a 50% discount on the fine), pay within 28 days (the deadline, after which the council will take further action) or appeal the ticket.
  • If you appeal (which must be done in writing) this will usually take you over the 14-day limit. So you’ll have to resign yourself to the fact that if you lose the case, you’ll likely have to pay the full whack! (You can try asking that the fine be frozen at the lower rate until the resolution of the case, but there’s no guarantee that the council will agree to this).
  • You can’t appeal a ticket once you’ve paid the fine.

According to new website PATROL (Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London) there are several grounds for appealing against a PCN:

1. The information on the PCN is wrong or incomplete. If the PCN doesn’t contain ALL of the following, it’s invalid:

  • The reason for the ticket
  • The size of the fine
  • A statement detailing that the penalty must be paid within 28 days from the date the PCN was issued
  • A statement detailing that if the penalty is paid within 14 days of the PCN being issued, the penalty will be reduced by a specified amount
  • A statement detailing that if the penalty charge is not paid before the end of the 28-day period, a Notice to Owner may be served against the owner of the vehicle
  • The address where the penalty charge must be sent

2. The parking offence didn’t occur (for example you weren’t on a yellow line, you were loading, you had a pay-and-display ticket but it wasn’t seen or signs were misleading or not visible)

3. There were exceptional circumstances

4. There are compelling reasons

For a complete explanation of the parking enforcement process (and for an exhaustive list of different points you can appeal against a ticket) go to the PATROL website.

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How to challenge a ticket

  • Contact the local council as soon as you receive the PCN, state your case in detail and include a copy of any evidence such as a pay-and-display ticket, or a delivery note if you were loading.
  • If they reject your challenge they will send you a Notice to Owner which you can use to make your representations in writing against the PCN (it must be within 28 days of receiving the notice).
  • If rejected by the council they’ll send you a Notice of Rejection explaining why.
  • Along with this Notice of Rejection you’ll receive an appeal form which you can then use to appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, again within 28 days.

If you need help, or you’re willing to pay someone else to do it for you, try AppealNow who specialise in aiding motorists with parking fines. You can register with them and lodge an appeal within five minutes. They have an online service costing from £9.99-25.99 depending on the service which can help you challenge your parking ticket quickly and easily.

Appeal stage

Once at this stage you can either have a personal, telephone or postal hearing. Remember that there’s no charge for bringing an appeal to an adjudicator.

Personal hearing: This is usually held in a community building like a library and lasts about 20 minutes. It’s not a courtroom and things are pretty informal so you won’t need a lawyer. An independent adjudicator will listen to the evidence of both you and the council representative and you’ll usually hear the adjudicator’s decision at the end of the hearing. You’ll also be sent written reasons for the outcome within 10 working days.

Telephone hearing: You may be offered a hearing via conference call which should also last about 20 minutes.

Postal hearing: If both you and the council agree, the adjudication can take place by post and a decision will be made by an adjudicator from written submissions and documents.

Cheaper parking options

If you keep getting tickets because parking’s so expensive in the area you want to leave your vehicle in and you risk not paying, look at cheaper options.

Check out websites like ParkLet and Parkatmyhouse.com where you can find someone’s driveway or garage to park in, or even rent out your own driveway/garage for some extra cash.

ParkLet have spaces available to rent on a monthly contract at competitive prices, they guarantee you a parking space 24 hours a day and you pay by direct debit so it’s convenient too. With Parkatmyhouse.com you can contact the owners of the driveway/garage directly yourself and see when the space is available to rent and how much it’ll cost.

The idea is that other people rent out their garage or driveway and you can use these websites to find a space somewhere suitable and best of all you’ll be parking on private property so you won’t find that a civil enforcement officer has ruined your day by plonking a ticket on your windscreen!

Useful links

 

If you have experience of winning against parking tickets, comment below or tell us on Facebook!

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