Returning to your car to find a fine stuck to your windscreen, or having a parking ticket land through your letterbox, is a huge inconvenience.
Having to fork out for leaving your car in the wrong place or returning to it too late is something we all try to avoid. But, we all get caught out sometimes.
Research published at the start of 2022 revealed that drivers are being handed an average of more than 22,000 tickets every day by private parking firms. Companies issued a whopping 4 million tickets to British motorists between April and September last year.
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However, if you’ve been slapped with a parking fine, you might be able to appeal it. There are plenty of situations which could result in your fine being cancelled, as long as you can prove you weren’t in the wrong. If you couldn’t spot any signs or road markings, if you were unable to pay for your ticket, or even if you were just a few minutes late back to your vehicle, you could end up paying nothing at all.
Citizens Advice has provided a comprehensive guide on when you might be eligible to appeal a parking ticket and how to go about it. Here’s everything you need to know.
When can you appeal a parking ticket?
There are several reasons you can appeal a parking ticket, according to Citizens Advice. Making an informal appeal is free to do – you simply have to contact whoever issued it to you.
If you make an informal appeal, you can’t be taken to court. However, if your appeal is unsuccessful and you don’t pay the ticket or appeal to a tribunal, you may be summoned.
Here are the reasons you may appeal your ticket.
Your parking ticket was given to you more than 14 days after parking
Check if the notice says ‘Protection of Freedoms Act’. If it does, the parking company usually has to post a notice to you within a certain time – or to the car’s registered owner if that’s not you.
The deadline depends on whether the parking company gave you a notice at the time you parked – this includes leaving it on your car. If you didn’t get a notice at the time you parked, you must receive a notice within 14 days of when you parked. If you got a notice at the time you parked and you replied to it, the parking company doesn’t have to send another notice. If you didn’t reply to it, you must receive another notice within 56 days of when you parked. If you didn’t receive the notice in time, tell the parking company you don’t have to pay the charge.
If the notice doesn’t say ‘Protection of Freedoms Act’, there’s no time limit to send it. If it’s delivered more than seven months after you parked, you can argue it’s unfair to make you pay.
You were parked correctly
You can appeal a ticket if you think you were parked correctly. For example, if a parking attendant thinks you stayed too long when you were in fact within the time limit.
By law, the fine must be canceled if you didn’t break the parking rules and it was on public land. When you park on private land, such as a supermarket car park, the parking rules should be made clear on nearby signs. So if you can prove that you stuck to these rules, your ticket should be cancelled.
When you appeal, try and send evidence to prove that you didn’t break any rules.
The parking signs or road markings were unclear
All car parks and roads with parking restrictions must have signs or road markings that make this clear. You may be able to appeal your ticket if you can prove that this was not the case.
For example, if you couldn’t see any road markings or signs, if they were hard to read or obstructed, or if they were misleading, you may have a case to make.
You should also win your appeal if you were sent a ticket in the post and there weren’t signs saying CCTV – or an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system – was in use where you parked.
There was no way to pay
If you couldn’t pay for your parking because of a broken machine then you may be able to appeal the ticket. However, if there was another machine you could have used, this won’t work.
You’ll need to send evidence that the machine or meter was broken and there was nowhere else to pay to whoever gave you the ticket.
You were charged too much
Fines fall into two categories with different amounts to pay depending on the seriousness of the offence. You’ll be charged the higher band for a more serious offense, like parking on a double yellow line, and the lower band for something less serious, like parking for longer than your ticket allows.
If your offense should be in the lower band but you’ve been charged the higher band amount, you can appeal.
If you’ve been given a Parking Charge Notice, the BPA and IPC rules state you shouldn’t be charged more than £100 – unless the parking company can prove your parking offense made them lose this much money. You should appeal if you’ve been charged more than £100 and think this extra cost is unjustified.
You weren’t the person driving
If you were not the person that committed the parking error then you can ask for the fine to be cancelled. For example, if you lent the car to someone, if it was stolen or if it had recently been sold, you may be able to appeal as you were not responsible.
You couldn’t get back to your car
If there is a legitimate reason you could not get your car in time, you may be able to appeal. The Equality Act 2010 means you must be treated with understanding and can’t be discriminated against, so the ticket should be canceled if it’s for a reason related to something like a disability.
For example, you could appeal your ticket if you couldn’t get back to your car because it’s difficult for you to walk because you’re disabled, you’re pregnant or because you have a very young baby.
you broke down
If you were given a ticket while waiting for your car to be fixed or towed away you are likely to have a strong case for getting your ticket cancelled. The ticket issuer should understand that you couldn’t move the vehicle.
You were only just out of time
If you were only five or ten minutes away from getting back to your car in time, you might be able to appeal the fine. You should be given at least a few minutes after your parking runs out – called a ‘grace period’.
How to appeal a parking ticket
If you’re informally appealing your parking ticket, don’t pay it. Paying the fine usually indicates that you have accepted it was right. If you’re worried about not paying, call whoever gave you the ticket and ask them to confirm that you shouldn’t pay if you’re appealing.
The method for appealing a parking ticket depends on the type of parking ticket you have been given, so you will need to check what the ticket says before you start.
The different types of parking tickets include:
- a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or an Excess Charge Notice (ECN) – usually issued by the council on public land, such as a high street or council car park
- a Parking Charge Notice – issued by a landowner or parking company on private land, such as a supermarket car park
- a Fixed Penalty Notice – issued by the police on red routes, white zig zags or where the police manage parking
When appealing your ticket you should provide all the evidence you can. This could be:
- a valid pay and display ticket
- photos to show there were no road markings to restrict parking
- photos of signs that are hard to see or understand
- a letter from someone who was with you saying what happened – write ‘Witness statement’ at the top of this
- a repair note, if your car broke down
Your correspondence should include the date the ticket was issued, your address, your vehicle registration number and a reference number for the fine if one has been provided.
For a PCN or ECN, you need to write to the council and explain why you object to the fine. You’ll have 14 days to make an informal appeal from when you were given the notice, or 21 days if it was sent to you by post. If your appeal is successful, your PCN or ECN will be canceled and you won’t have to pay.
To appeal to a Parking Charge Notice, you first need to find out if the parking company that charged you is a member of an accredited trade association (ATA). You can check the British Parking Association (BPA) or International Parking Community (IPC) websites to see if a parking company is a member of an ATA.
If the parking company put the ticket on your car and it isn’t an ATA member, don’t contact them unless they write to you first. They probably won’t be able to find your details – only ATA members can get your name and address from the DVLA. If you get a ticket in the post from a non-ATA member, they have got your address and you should reply. However, they might have got your details illegally, so you may be able to complain to the DVLA about them possibly sharing your data illegally
If they are a member of an ATA, you should find the company’s contact details and write to them. If the company rejects your informal appeal, you can appeal to an independent appeals service. They might see things differently to the parking company and agree that your ticket should be cancelled.
To appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice, you need to write to anyone issued it. Check if it was given to you by the council or by the police.
To write to the police, send your letter to the Central Ticket Office closest to where the notice was issued. Not all areas allow you to raise informal appeals. Call the issuing police force – or any number listed on the notice – to check. To write to the council, use the address on the notice or letter.
You should also know your rights if your car has been clamped. Check the notice left with the clamp to see if it’s from the police, the council, the DVLA, or a private company acting on their behalf – these are the only people allowed to clamp your car on private land. You should call the police on 101 if you’ve been clamped by a private landowner or company working for them.