Getting parking tickets is annoying and expensive. Parking tickets (otherwise known as Penalty Charge Notices) are a great source of income for local councils and private parking companies, but many parking fines are charged unfairly. If you think you shouldn’t have had a PCN, you can appeal and get it quashed. Read our guide on how to challenge a parking ticket.
- Things to know about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs)
- How to challenge a ticket
- Appeal stage
- Cheaper parking options
Your right 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 statistics show that currently over 60% of appeals result in a PCN being overturned, so it can definitely be worth appealing.
Councils now have the power to issue tickets by post within 28 days, so there’s a good chance you won’t receive the ticket for several weeks after the alleged offence. Try not to be too disheartened: the Traffic Penalty Tribunal says that the burden of proof is on the council.
Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs)
There have been lots of changes recently, including traffic wardens swapping their title to ‘civil enforcement officers’.
- 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.
- You’ll be given a choice: pay 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, if you lose the case, you’ll likely have to pay the full whack!
- You can’t appeal a ticket once you’ve paid the fine.
However, according to website PATROL (Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London), there are several grounds for appealing against a PCN.
When you can appeal
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 the above PCN regulations
- 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 actually on a yellow line, or you were loading)
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.
How to challenge a ticket
- Contact the local council in writing 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 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.
Freedom of Information Requests
As part of your challenge, you can also submit a Freedom of Information Request if it’s pertinent to your case. For example, you can request to find out if parking officers are under any incentive scheme to issue a number of tickets, or whether parking enforcement cameras are clearly signposted on entering the area in which your ticket was issued.
A Freedom of Information Request can take a while, so it may delay your appeal – but the provided information can be valuable if you think your ticket was wrongly issued. Visit the Gov.uk website to find out how to make an FOI request.
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, and you’ll usually hear the 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
Check out websites like ParkLet and JustPark 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, and they guarantee parking space for 24 hours a day. You pay by direct debit, so it’s convenient too. With JustPark, you can contact the owners of the driveway/garage directly and figure out costs.
The idea is that other people rent out their garage or driveway, and you can use these websites to find a space somewhere suitable. Best of all, you’ll be parking on private property – so you won’t find that a parking ticket plonked on your windscreen!
If you have experience of overturning parking tickets, comment below or tell us all on Facebook!