As many drivers know, finding a parking space can be a stressful business, especially on busy days when you’re on the school run or trying to get to work. The last thing you want is to find you’ve landed yourself a ticket for not fully understanding the parking restrictions.
How do public and private car parks differ?
Public car parks tend to be run by local councils and are regulated through the Traffic Management Act. Traffic attendants will issue a Penalty Charge Notice (parking ticket) if you don’t comply with the rules. Note, most local authorities in England and Wales will give you a 10-minute grace period to return to and move your car, before issuing a ticket.
Private car parks are usually run by parking operators hired by landowners to manage the parking. These include car parks at train stations, supermarkets, retail parks, hospitals, universities, private residential areas and railway stations. If you break the rules of a private car park, you will be issued with a Parking Charge Notice.
How much is a parking ticket?
Your parking charge will vary depending on the severity of what you’ve done. For example, you will tend to get a higher fine for parking on a double yellow line than if you overstayed your time limit in a public car park.
Car park fines tend to be between £50 and £70, rising to £120 in London. In some cases, the fine is reduced by 50% if you pay it within 14 days.
What do I do if I get a ticket in a public car park?
Generally speaking, if you are issued a Penalty Charge Notice then you have broken the law, so it’s worth cutting your losses and paying up.
If you genuinely think you’ve done nothing wrong, you can appeal. You need to appeal to your council in writing, preferably backing up your case with witness statements and/or photographic evidence.
The council will then decide whether or not to accept your appeal. If it’s rejected and you still refuse to pay, the matter will be referred to the courts.
What about a ticket in a private car park?
If you are issued with a Parking Charge Notice on private property, don’t automatically pay it. These aren’t official fines, but rather an invoice for breaking the agreement you made when choosing to park there.
As before, if you can legitimately appeal, then do so. Or, if you think the fine is unjustified, it’s worth appealing to the landowner who employs the parking operator (e.g. the supermarket) and plead your case. You might find that they think the parking operator has been completely out of order and cancel the ticket on your behalf.
When should I appeal a ticket?
It’s worth appealing a ticket if you genuinely think you did nothing wrong or if you thought the parking information was wrong or misleading.
Examples would be if the signs in the car park weren’t clear enough, if a ticket machine was broken or if the fine is disproportionate to the offence caused. You might also appeal if you can prove you bought a ticket but it slipped off the dashboard and wasn’t visible.
You can also appeal in mitigating circumstances, such as if you were dropping off a seriously ill person at a hospital, if you were tending an emergency at the time, or if your car had broken down.
Any tips for avoiding a ticket?
Always read the signs carefully, particularly in private car parks. Rules vary from place to place, often with different prices for different times of the day or year – e.g. Bank Holidays. Once you’ve bought your ticket, ensure it’s clearly displayed in the window or on the dashboard.
Also, take care when parking the car itself. Make sure you’re in a designated bay and that your wheels aren’t sticking out into a road or obstructing another parking space. If you drive a long vehicle, make sure you don’t take up two spaces, as you could be fined for this, too.
What if I get a parking ticket and someone else was driving?
As the keeper of the vehicle you will be notified. It’s assumed that the owner is the driver but you can opt to name the driver. However, if they do not pay or appeal, as the car’s owner you will be liable. (Note, this does not apply in Scotland as they didn’t adopt the Protection of Freedom Act.)
When might your car be clamped?
Clamping on private land was banned in 2012 but clamping can be carried out by an authority such as a council, DVLA or the police on public and private land. A car could be clamped if it’s untaxed, not insured or deemed unroadworthy.
For more information on your parking rights visit knowyourparkingrights.org