Motoring in the UK is fraught with predictable costs: fuel, insurance, MOTs, road tax, but it’s the unexpected costs that really get to drivers. Regular servicing from specialists such as T W White & Sons can help keep repair bills to a minimum, as can driving sensibly and safely. And keeping on the right side of parking inspectors.
One thing often said about the English is we don’t like to complain, but when it comes to parking fines, that would seem not to be the case. Over 70,000 motorists appealed against their supposed infractions in 2012-13 and half of them won their challenges. No-one likes returning to their vehicle to find a ticket tucked under the wipers, especially if it’s unwarranted. So if you feel your parking fine ought to be challenged then it’s always worth appealing against it through the official process.
Now, as any comprehensive guide will tell you, the grounds for appealing, and the actual process, are varied and lengthy. I’m not going to go into any great depth here on how to actually go about challenging your ticket, I’m going to focus more on information you need to know in order to stand the best chance of success.
1. Don’t pay. If you pay the fine, this is viewed as an admission of guilt. This doesn’t apply of course if your car has been towed or clamped and you need to pay to get it back.
2. If you’re planning to appeal you need to act immediately, but once your appeal is in the system be prepared for it to drag on for some time, perhaps even months. Consider if this is really worth the hassle.
3. Who issued the fine? There are four agencies that can do so in the UK: the police, local authorities, Transport for London, and private companies. Knowing which was responsible helps you determine if you’ve got a criminal or a civil fine (as well as the police, local authorities also issue criminal fines, although it’s usually civil). Criminal fines are more difficult to overturn.
4. You need to assemble your evidence. Use your phone to take photos of your car’s position, road marking, signs, anything relevant. Are there any witnesses who can corroborate your argument? Keep hold of your parking ticket if you had one, and any correspondence between yourself and the agency. If you have extenuating circumstances, proof of this will be needed. Fines issued by post are more troublesome, as the offence will have taken place some time previously, so in this case your best bet would be to check if the area you parked is covered by CCTV.
5. Remember that it is the registered owner of the car, not the driver, who is at fault. So if your son or daughter picks up a fine and doesn’t tell you, you may have difficulty appealing later on. If you’re driving a hire car then you will need to let the company know if you intend to challenge.
6. Assuming you have a civil fine, you begin with an informal appeal to the council. If this fails you can then make a formal appeal (this is the first step if your car was clamped or towed.) Finally, you can make an appeal to an independent body. If you pass through every stage and still have no luck, then you may as well give up. Pay your fine as soon as possible to avoid it rising by 50%, and move on.
7. If you received a fine while in a private car park, the process is different. The owners set their own rules, and you will be appealing instead to POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals). The operator will need to be in breach of the British Parking Association’s Code of Practise, or Contract Law. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can just ignore this kind of fine, it could end up costing you dearly.