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Private parking tickets

Do you have to pay private parking tickets?

Sara Newell
Written by  Sara Newell
5 min read
Updated: 30 May 2024

Getting back to your car to find a parking ticket on your windscreen can feel frustrating. Our guide covers when you can challenge a ticket, and how parking fines work

Whether you've returned to your vehicle to find a bright yellow ticket slapped on the windshield or you've received a notice in the mail, understanding the ins and outs of parking fines is essential for every driver.

Let's break down the types of parking tickets, how they can impact you, and what steps you can take if you find yourself on the receiving end of one.

Understanding the types of parking tickets

Before you can effectively deal with a parking ticket, it's important to know what kind you're dealing with. There are three main types of parking tickets that you might encounter:

Fixed penalty notice (FPN)

FPNs are the tickets you might receive from the police, council, or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) for various offenses, including parking violations. In England and Wales, you typically have 28 days to pay before the fine increases by 50%. Ignoring an FPN is not a wise move, as it can lead to court action.

Penalty charge notice (PCN)

These are commonly issued by local authority traffic wardens and can be for a range of issues, such as failing to pay for parking or for not adhering to the London congestion fee. PCNs are civil matters, unlike Excess Charge Notices (ECNs), which are criminal charges.

Parking charge notice/PCN

Yes, the acronym is the same as the Penalty Charge Notice, but this one is issued by private companies for parking on their land without following the rules. These notices are essentially invoices for a breach of contract. Paying early can often result in a discount, but ignoring them can escalate to court action.

car parking fine

Is the ticket justified?

Before you even think about challenging a parking ticket, take a moment to consider if the fine was justified. It's important to note that private companies can't technically fine you; they can only claim you've breached a contract with them.

If you've clearly violated the parking rules, challenging the ticket might not be worth your time. However, if there's faulty technology, misleading signs, or you had extenuating circumstances, you might have a case.

When to challenge a parking ticket

Challenging a parking ticket requires effort and evidence. Here are some scenarios where you might consider an appeal:

  • Faulty parking meters or ticket machines

  • Unclear or misleading parking signs

  • Extenuating circumstances, like a medical emergency

Remember, you'll need to back up your claim with solid evidence, such as photographs or witness statements.

Know your rights: clamping and towing

Getting clamped or towed is usually a result of illegal parking, invalid insurance, or an untaxed vehicle. It's crucial to know that private operators can't legally clamp or tow on private land in England, Scotland, and Wales.

If you decide to remove a clamp yourself, you could be charged with criminal damage, so it's best to follow the proper channels to resolve the issue.

How to challenge a parking ticket

If you decide to appeal a parking ticket, here's what you should do:

  1. Identify who issued the ticket.

  2. Start with an informal challenge or representation to the issuer.

  3. If that's unsuccessful, proceed with a formal appeal.

  4. In some cases, you may need to take your appeal to an independent tribunal.

Be warned, appeals have a relatively low success rate and can be quite the hassle. It's a process that should not be taken lightly.

Dealing with private parking fines

Private parking fines require a different approach. Here's what you need to know:

  • Private parking fines need legal backing to enforce payment.

  • If the fine is from the police or council, it's obligatory to pay.

  • Tickets from private companies are more like invoices for contract breaches and can lead to small claims court if ignored.

To challenge a private parking ticket, check if the company is a member of a trade body like the British Parking Association (BPA) or the International Parking Community (IPC), and follow their official appeals process. If the firm isn't affiliated with a trade body, seek legal advice before deciding to ignore the ticket.

Do parking tickets affect car insurance?

One common concern is whether parking tickets will affect your car insurance premium. The good news is that parking tickets should not affect your car insurance. Insurers typically focus on driving-related factors, such as speeding or driving under the influence, rather than parking violations.

Tips for avoiding parking tickets

The best way to deal with parking tickets is, of course, to avoid getting them in the first place. Here are some tips to keep you ticket-free:

  • Steer clear of parking on double yellow lines or in clearways.

  • Always display parking tickets or permits clearly and correctly.

  • Familiarise yourself with local parking restrictions and don't assume exceptions for disabled parking without checking.

Understanding the type of parking ticket you've received and the reasons behind it is crucial in determining your next steps. Ignoring tickets is generally not advisable; if you believe a ticket is unjust, it's worth appealing.

Being well-informed and prepared is key to effectively managing parking tickets and avoiding unnecessary fines.

Remember, when it comes to parking tickets, knowledge is power. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and park smart.

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