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How to appeal a parking fine and win

Nick Francis

12 Feb 2021

There’s nothing worse than returning to your car and finding a bright yellow packet stuck to your windscreen, but you don’t necessarily have to roll over and accept a parking fine. You have the right to appeal and in many cases you can win.

Parking fines have to be one of the most annoying and frustrating things in the world, not to mention they can make a serious dent in your wallet. On average local authorities in the UK issue £850,000 worth of parking fines a year each, with some issuing over £10 MILLION in 2020, according to a recent Freedom of Information request submitted by insurance comparison website Compare the Market.

If you have knowingly parked somewhere you shouldn’t have, or refused to pay for parking, then there’s not much you can rightly say about a parking fine: you’ll have to face the music. But when you get a fine you shouldn’t just go ahead and pay it, you may have a legitimate reason why it is unfair. In many cases you can appeal - and win.

Below are the various grounds upon which you can appeal a parking fine. You are not guaranteed to win but you stand a good chance, especially if you can prove it. For that reason it is a good idea to take a photograph of your car in the space with your smartphone before leaving it, as well a photograph of the ticket itself on display in your car. This evidence could become vital later.

There was no way to pay

If the ticket machine is broken or the online parking service has crashed, and there was no other way to pay, your parking fine should be cancelled. Gather as much evidence as you can – take photos of the broken ticket machine or screengrabs of the crashed online parking service.

You were within your ten minute grace period

Councils are supposed to give you a grace period of ten minutes from when the ticket expires before issuing a fine, but very often over-zealous traffic wardens don’t honour that window, especially if they can’t see you in area. That’s why a photograph of the parking ticket you paid for, or the online receipt, is vital. You can match the time you bought your ticket with the time the fine was issued to check if you were still within the ten minute period.

Your car has broken down or become illegal to drive

If your car is unmoveable at the time of the fine being issued then you stand a very good chance of winning an appeal. That doesn’t just mean the battery has gone flat, the car could have been damaged by another car or vandalised, which would make it unsafe or even illegal to drive. A stubborn council may demand evidence that you had to pay for a recovery service.

Unclear signs

Councils are supposed to clearly mark areas which cannot be parked in or which need to be paid for, so if it isn’t clear then you have good grounds for appeal. Check the area and take photos of the signs - or lack of them – and submit them to the local authority.

You fell ill or there was an emergency

If you could not return to your car in time or had to pull up to an area with restricted parking due to illness or an emergency then you may win an appeal. It’s not guaranteed because, of course, councils realise a lot people might lie about this, but if you’re telling the truth it will probably come across. If there is any evidence that you fell ill or were involved in an incident, such as a pharmacy receipt or doctor’s waiting room ticket, that will help your case.

You have been fined for not displaying your ticket

Rules state that your ticket must be displayed clearly for a traffic warden to read it, and if it isn’t they will probably give you a fine. You are likely to be let off the fine if you send evidence that you did buy a ticket, as long as you are humble and recognise that it was your mistake for not displaying it clearly.

How to appeal a parking fine

First of all, don’t pay the fine which you intend to appeal – you may never see that money again as the authority issuing the fine may see it as an admission of guilt. You usually have 14 days to lodge an appeal, once you have submitted it the window of time you have to pay the fine should be suspended while the appeal is ongoing. Local authorities should provide an email address and mail address to which appeals can be sent. In your email or letter be sure to add the fine number, the date and time it was issued and your contact details.

As we have said already, the more evidence you have the more chance you stand of winning the appeal. In your email or letter add in photographs you have taken which substantiate your argument. If possible, add a witness statement from someone who was with you or saw what happened. If your car was broken down or illegal to drive a receipt from the recovery company or the repair bill will also be very helpful.

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Nick Francis

12 Feb 2021