Tips on how to beat a parking ticket- as it is reported that nearly half of drivers who contest these fines win!

It has been reported in the Daily Mail (Please see here ) that steep car parking fines are a modern day nightmare, often raking in millions of pounds every year for private firms and local councils. Although car park operators are using increasingly sinister tactics to ensure these fines are paid, drivers can hit back. About half of all fines challenged are overturned.

The latest trick being employed by some firms is to pay the DVLA to provide your address details that can be traced from your car number plate. Last year, a record 4.7million people had their addresses bought for as little as £2.50 each by car park operators. Armed with this information, the companies – usually running hospital car parks or shopping centres – are then sending threatening letters demanding hundreds of pounds in fines.

Private companies earn an estimated £500million a year from issuing parking fines. While equivalent data is not available from councils, they pocket a similar figure from a combination of car parking charges and fines.

If you pay within 14 days, the penalty amount will often be halved, panicking some motorists to pay rather than contest the charge. There is also the threat of debt collectors coming round if a fine goes unpaid, though bailiffs cannot go knocking on doors without first going to court.

First of all, if you have been issued with a ticket you deem to be unfair do not hand over any cash. If you do, you are effectively admitting responsibility. Under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, any sums demanded must be deemed ‘fair and reasonable’. But be aware- this could still mean that an £85 fine for overstaying by a few minutes might be deemed fair in some courts.

The secret to successfully arguing these charges is to prepare your case thoroughly. Go back to the car park and take photos, write letters to the company, but ultimately if this does not succeed, you must be prepared to go to court to argue your case.

Parking Charge Notice

Motorists overstaying a paid-for period or parking without permission on private land are issued with a ‘parking charge notice’. If a motorist wants to challenge this, the first step is to take up the argument with the car park firm. If it will not listen, the motorist must start the appeal process.

If the company is a member of the British Parking Association, drivers can contact Parking on Private Land Appeals within 28 days. Alternatively, if the car park operator is a member of the International Parking Community, someone disputing a fine must take it to the Independent Appeals Service. Car park firms not affiliated to one of these groups will find it harder to chase you for a fine.

Penalty Charge Notice

A car parking fine on council-owned land is known as a ‘penalty charge notice’. The process of appeal is more structured than for parking on private land. Motorists have 14 days to argue their case with the council. It will then issue a ‘notice to owner’ for those wanting to continue fighting their case. Motorists then get a further 28 days to make a formal representation. If that appeal is rejected, a ‘notice of rejection’ is issued. If you still wish to contest the notice, you must appeal to an adjudicator. In England and Wales this is the Traffic Penalty


Sometimes you can argue ‘mitigating circumstances’ in an appeal. Common examples of these are:

  • Poorly marked signs: It must be proven that signs were clearly visible and not obscured – for example, by trees or poor night lighting.
  • Ticket not visible: If you had a valid ticket but it fell off the dashboard or was upside down you can put this argument forward. You must of course still have the ticket to be able to claim this.
  • Three minute rule: If you get a ticket within the first three minutes after arriving, your argument is that you had gone to find a machine to buy a ticket.
  • A broken car park machine: If the ticket machine is out of order it is up to you to see if there is another one in the car park. If you cannot find one take a photo of the broken equipment as proof.

If you have any queries regarding this, then please contact our specialised Criminal Defense teams at our offices. We have teams in Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Newark, Sleaford and Spalding.

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