Getting off a Parking ticket
We’ve all done it. Stopped on double or single yellows longer than we should during a restricted period. Hung around in a parking bay without buying a ticket. Dropped off passengers on a ‘Red Route’ or clearway with only the slightest twinge of conscience. Maybe even stopped on a Taxi rank to get a bottle of plonk from the off licence. When you come out you find you’ve had a parking ticket slapped on your pride and joy from one of the new Local Authority Traffic, Parking, Patrol, Enforcement, Officers, Attendants, Ambassador, Warden or whatever and you don’t feel justice has been done. What do you do then?
Say that the new fangled Traffic Warden has you apparently bang to rights, you can still challenge or appeal the fine and stand a good chance of getting away with it. Just keep your head and follow the rules laid out below.
Rule 1: Do not under any circumstances, act aggressively, swear, complain, threaten or try to turn the issuing officers lights out. You’re just wasting your time and theirs. Any challenge you might make to the ticket after you have acted in this way will automatically get thrown out. Be nice, even if the officer insults you (Which he / she won’t – these guys are picked and trained to be cooler than a large tub of Ben & Jerrys.).
Rule 2: Do not try to get the Traffic Warden to take the ticket back – they can’t.
Rule 3: Do listen carefully to anything the Traffic Warden says. If what he /she tells you isn’t absolutely 100% true this may be your ‘get off the ticket’ excuse. Write down, verbatim, or record anything he / she says. If push comes to shove this is evidence that might save you the cost of the fine.
Rule 4: Do have a good look at them. Are they properly dressed and clearly identifiable as a Parking Enforcement Officers? If, for example an officer is not clarly wearing their patrol number / hat etc then you may be able to wriggle out of it at the NPAS stage.
Rule 5: Do have a good look around at the road markings – Are they clear and complete? Look at the signs at the side of the road detailing the parking or stopping restriction. Do they contradict each other? Take a photograph if at all possible. Collect evidence. Take your time (But not too much – on Red routes they are pretty quick at towing your vehicle away. That costs more than a parking ticket to get out of.)
Rule 6: Do keep the ticket. Don’t throw it away in a fit of pique. This is your evidence that one has been issued. Wait until you get home and have had time to cool off before checking the details. Read it carefully and follow the instructions for challenge precisely.
- Write a polite letter to the issuing authority detailing why you should not have to pay the fine. State your reasons for believing this to be true and send in copies of any relevant photographs, transcripts of what was said at the time, confusing road markings, evidence of breakdown or being told to stop by a Uniformed Police officer or Traffic Warden (Don’t forget to take their patrol number if this happens.). Don’t send in a work of fiction. You won’t be believed but your extravagant claims might be passed around the office to lighten the dark winter months. Even Traffic Wardens like a good laugh sometimes.
- Send the letter in immediately. Don’t wait for postal notification to arrive.
- If you don’t think you’ve got a snowflakes chance in hell, coughing up early generally gets you a 50% discount on the fine.
- Trying to forget all about it is a bad move as the issuing authority will simply send it via Northampton County Court who will set the bailiffs on you if you don’t pay the fine. These guys will impound your vehicle if they can.
- Wait a couple of weeks after you have sent your letter. You should receive one back from the issuing authority either stating that your claim has been upheld or that the fine still stands.
- If the fine still stands – don’t panic. You will still only have to pay the fine at its discounted amount.
- Or you can go to the next stage of the process which is;
- Contact NPAS, the National Parking Adjudication Service. Write them a nice reasonable polite letter detailing why you think that the parking ticket should not have been issued. Don’t forget to send them a copy of statements and photographs etc.
- Wait two weeks. You should by now have a letter from NPAS telling you whether the fine has been upheld or not. If not, then you can breathe a sigh of relief and try not to be caught in future.
- If they have upheld the ticket you do have the option of going to judicial review but this involves solicitors and will cost you a lot more money, time and effort than the parking ticket would have done in the first place. Not really worth the candle unless you are a specialist solicitor of course.
- You still, even at this late stage have the option of paying up at the discounted rate.
A few examples of dodgy road markings include;
- Improperly terminated double yellow lines
- Top dressing obscuring double yellow lines
- Obscured road markings (Leaves, snow etc.)
- Dirty or illegible parking signage
- White on blue parking restriction signs (NPAS generally throws these out.)
- The old dashed single yellow line is now meaningless.
- Remember that if the signs and road markings are not exactly as the Highway Code dictates you may just get away with it.
- Spend a few pennies at W.H.Smith or your local book shop on a copy of the Highway code and read it carefully.
- Get in touch with your local Council and ask to see copies of the Traffic Regulation Order for the location you got the parking ticket. Does that match the signs and road markings? If the yellow lines and restriction plates don’t match, this may also invalidate the parking restriction or at least make it unenforceable. Have a good look at the position of the signs too; if they don’t match the road markings or are difficult to see or read you stand a good chance of making a successful challenge or appeal against the fine.
Oh yes. One last thing - You didn't find out from me.