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What to Do If You Get a Parking Ticket

What happens if you don't pay a parking ticket? This guide covers everything parking fine related, and then some.
So you’re in a bit of a jam thanks to a newly issued parking ticket. Not cool, we know! If it's the first time it's happened, welcome to adulthood. However, if you’re someone that’s built up a rapport with your local parking attendants over the years, you may want to change strategy a bit. You’re in luck, as we’re here to share everything you need to know about parking tickets to help you out either way.

Keep in mind that when you book parking in London (or elsewhere in the UK) with Stashbee, you can avoid potential fines and penalties altogether. Our pre-booked spaces are not only secure - they’re convenient as well. From guaranteeing a space for a day of running errands in town, through to having one to rely on for work every day, we’ve got you covered. So much so that we’ve put together this comprehensive guide in the event that you do get a parking ticket for stopping elsewhere.

What Types of Parking Tickets Are There?

While we’ve already given you a run through of the key parking laws in the UK, nobody is expecting you to keep every single one of them in mind at all times. If you understand the different types of parking tickets that are issued with violations, you’ll essentially have a bit of a cheat sheet about how to avoid getting one. There are three types of parking fines in the UK, each of which can be incurred for slightly different reasons:

  • Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) are the most common type of parking notices - and may be the one you’re holding in your hand right now. These are issued by parking attendants that are employed by your local authority. Skip trying to scuffle or barter with these guys. Shooting the messenger won’t get you anywhere, so take up objections through the formal route instead, more on which later.
  • Parking Charge Notices (confusingly also abbreviated as PCNs) differ slightly from Penalty Charge Notices, as these are issued by private companies. If you overstay your welcome at the supermarket, for instance, you’ll be slapped with one of these. Stashbee’s Hosts won’t be handing these out to you as a parking Renter, considering you won’t be booking an on-street parking space with them, and instead leaving your vehicle in their driveway or garage.
  • Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) are parking tickets written by traffic officers that work for the local police force. Often, these are slightly more variable in nature than the other two types — penalties and payment deadlines depend on the offence, and how lenient the issuing officer is on the day.

How Much Is a Parking Ticket?

No matter how the parking ticket actually got to you (in-person, windscreen, post or email), the first thing you should check is the penalty amount, your options for making the payment, and the deadline to do so. If you have an idea about what a parking ticket should generally cost, you will know if it is a fair amount or not, which will give you a better idea of how to approach appealing it.

First up, you should know that the number of Parking Charge Notices alone increased by 64% between 2016 and 2021. This signals that it is big business for some of the more - ahem - entrepreneurial business owners out there. For this reason, always make sure that you’re legitimately in the wrong, or that the penalty amount is fair.

Depending on the specific offence and where you are when it happens, you’re looking at anything from £60 to £100 for a parking ticket in the UK. A wheel clamp release is around £70, and getting an impounded vehicle back is a staggering £200, plus admin fees. Individual councils tend to do their own thing and have their own approaches to dishing out parking penalties. Some are more rigid than others. London, for instance, is renowned for its high parking violation charges, with even smaller offences setting drivers back up to £130. The good news is that, by simply paying it within 14 days, whatever charge you’re levied with will be reduced by 50%.

How Do You Appeal a Parking Ticket?

In cases when you’ve followed all of the parking rules and still been hard done by, you can appeal or challenge a parking ticket. Everyone is allowed to do so irrespective of the nature of the violation, provided they have evidence to prove their case. The process will vary on the type of ticket it is, but generally you’re best off contacting the local council or police department to find out how to go about it. You’ve got 28 days to contest the parking ticket, and if you do so within 14 days you might only have to pay half of the fine, even if you receive a notice of rejection.

You’ll need some solid ground to stand on if you want a chance to have it overturned. We’re talking about actual photographs or additional documents that can back up your request. The following are a couple of viable reasons to lodge an appeal:

  • You had a medical emergency, and needed to stop somewhere illegally in order to resolve the situation.
  • Your car broke down somewhere, and you were waiting for assistance to arrive.
  • Faulty ticket machines at shopping centres, airports and other public spaces. We’ve all been there.
  • Covered road signs in the area. These are common, as are the incorrect fines that are issued from them.
  • You received an incorrect ticket, including a penalty for a car that isn’t registered to you, you weren’t even present (if happens!), or you’re just the unlucky victim of a system glitch.

Responding the Right Way

Your first instinct after getting a parking ticket might be to shout at yourself, the parking attendant, or anyone else in your general vicinity. This is generally a bad idea, no matter who you’re directing your frustration towards, so try not to panic, and take a deep breath. Skip making any assumptions about where you went wrong, and remember to focus on the facts as they are presented on the ticket itself. If you need to leave it on the dashboard for a few minutes or for when you get home, that’s perfectly fine too.

When you look at the ticket calmly, you’ll be far more rational about whether you were actually in the wrong, or if it’s worth contesting. There are many things you can do in this case, which we’re touching on a bit later. Before starting any appeal process, it’s worth chatting to a friend or family member about the offence, as a second opinion can tell you whether you’re shooting in the dark, or have a real chance of having it overturned.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay a Parking Ticket?

Councils have the power to enforce parking penalties in the first place thanks to a piece of legislation from 2004 called the Traffic Management Act. You’ll be happy to hear that the law doesn’t make room to send offenders to prison for not paying a parking ticket, because it isn’t technically a criminal offence when you do so. That doesn’t, however, mean that a free ride is on the cards. If you don’t settle the penalty within 28 days, you’re automatically issued with a charge certificate, which gives you two more weeks to pay the original penalty amount, plus a staggering 50% extra to pay on top. Ouch!

If you ignore the charge certificate and miss the 14 day window, the next step is being sent a notice to owner (specifically, a court order) to force you to pay. This is where you can land in some hot water with the authorities. If it’s a Fixed Penalty Notice, for instance, getting to this stage might mean losing points on your driver's licence. As you know, if you get docked enough points, you licence can be suspended or taken away altogether, to say nothing of the higher insurance premiums you’ll then find yourself facing!

How Do You Get Out of a Parking Ticket?

The easiest way to get out of a parking ticket is to go through the formal appeal processes we discussed earlier. Parking tickets are surprisingly easy to challenge, and all the information you need should be on your local council’s website. If you’re worried about getting the ticket overturned, you may want to explore one of the professional services that will handle the process for you. This is especially relevant for excessive amounts or more serious offences. Just make sure when you go down this route that these services don’t cost you more than the value of the fine, otherwise you’ll find yourself truly out of pocket.

Although a formal appeal is a better way to go, you can also try your hand at (informally) writing to the local council to let them know why you believe the ticket should be overturned. If you’re going to try this, make sure you don’t pay the parking fine while you wait for feedback. The 14-day “discount” will also be frozen during this time, so if you pay and it then gets overturned, you’ll have extra admin to deal with as you try and secure a refund. If the council doesn’t respond within 56 days of receiving your letter - and you should always chase them for written confirmation of receipt - the parking ticket has to be cancelled, and any clamp fees will need to be refunded too.

General Tips to Avoid a Parking Ticket Next Time

If you’d like the latest parking ticket to be your last, there are a few general tips that are good to follow. Nobody wants to get repeated parking tickets or go as far as to get their licence revoked by letting it get to the court order stage every time. At some point, something's got to give. If you’re hell bent on avoiding this, remember the following whenever you get behind the wheel:

  • Obey all traffic signs as rule #1, including keeping an eye on markings, time periods and so forth.
  • Avoid parking on double yellow lines wherever you are.
  • Don’t park in reserved spaces at offices or in residential areas, unless you’ve got a Stashbee booking with a Host that knows who you are, of course.
  • Blue Badge bays are a no-go, as these are designed for people with disabilities to have easier access to key locations. Do so at your own peril - traffic officers and members of the public won’t take it lightly when you do. You’re not likely to have any luck appealing this type of parking ticket.
  • Good parking etiquette matters: keep your car well inside the lines, and never take up two parking spots. Face your car in the right direction and be mindful that night time parking is it’s own beast, with its own rules.
  • Avoid stopping on the pavement even if you're in a rush, as this will land you in hot water no matter where you are in the UK.

That’s it! You’re officially equipped with what to do if you get a parking ticket, as well as how to avoid it happening in the first place. After all, you don’t want to be “that person” with multiple appeals to your local authority for having tickets overturned over the course of the year.

A foolproof way of avoiding penalties altogether is to book a parking space with Stashbee whenever you need it. You can do so for an hour, day, week or even a month at a time, with options catering to a range of budgets.

You’ll never have to park on the street again, meaning you can skip any type of interactions with traffic officials, other than a casual “good morning”, should you feel up to it.


Conrad

22nd Dec 2021




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