Parking fines: When and how you should appeal

How and when you should appeal parking fines

Nothing knocks the wind out of your sails quite like the sight of a bright yellow parking ticket wedged under your car’s wiper. Unlike many private parking tickets, council and police-backed parking tickets are more often than not the real deal. However, there are still circumstances where you can appeal, and get away without that sting in your bank balance. Here’s how to appeal a parking fine.

The advice comes courtesy of Hippo Leasing, which has revealed that council-owned car parks in England generated a massive £930 million in parking fines in 2019. Many of these tickets could have been unjustly given, or easily appealed.

Indeed, 56 percent of motorists who appeal a parking fine are succesful. The first piece of advice, for private or public fines, is to not pay it if you want to appeal. Payment is an admission of guilt, and you’ll have a devil of a job getting that back.

Good reasons to appeal your fine

Train station parking

Obviously, if you’ve parked and not paid, or knowingly outstayed your welcome, that is a wrongdoing on your part and the fine is fair. However, there are a number of situations where appealing might be worthwhile.

Broken down

If you’ve outstayed a prescribed parking period because your car has broken down, you should definitely appeal. Evidence will be needed, like a recovery receipt or the like, but given everything’s above board, the appeal should be successful.

Illness

If you pulled over spontaneously because you were ill, it’s also worth appealing.

Incorrect details

This is where reading the notice carefully is a good call. Know the charge, and know your story. If the timings don’t match up, or the plate is incorrect, state your case. As above, evidence is always useful, like a parking receipt.

Expensive high-street parking

Unclear or incorrect signs

Signs that are out of your way can be cause for appeal. Pleading ignorance, or citing the parking period, can go far. It’s entirely possible you were papped after a free parking period began, making the fine unjust, or that the sign detailing the rules was too far out of your way to fairly make you aware. Photo evidence would help you in that case.

Over-strictness

Council-run car parks operate a ten-minute grace period. If a parking warden has got a bit over eager handing out tickets, provided you can prove it, this is grounds for your fine to be dropped.

Legitimate pay, unfortunate display

Finally, if you have paid, but haven’t displayed as well as you could have, it’s also worth a shot. It’s possible you’ll be declined, but, nothing ventured…

In any case, it’s always worth establishing a dialogue with the authority that issued the fine, by email or even on the phone.

Appealing private tickets

Van drivers facing parking crisis

Private tickets, while sounding official and often coming with photo evidence (if arriving through the post), are not a fine. They are a breach of contract and can be challenged if you think you’re in the right. Private firms can also be more trigger-happy in sending out fines, too.

We’ve experienced fines for exceeding time limits when we haven’t, and fines for being somewhere on an entirely different date to when we were. Stories are rife of ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) systems penalising people for simply turning around in the entrance to a car park. In all cases, it is worth an appeal, following the process detailed on the ticket.

Rows of used cars in a parking lot

If the parking firm is part of a trade body, like the British Parking Association, you can help yourself by going through its independent portal. If the company isn’t a part of an official trade body, write a letter detailing your claim for exemption. Don’t worry if you don’t hear back: it’s a habit of private firms to go quiet of the case has been dropped, but a cursory phone call or email a couple of weeks down the line just to confirm can’t hurt.

You could appeal via the venue you were visiting. I successfully appealed an unjust fine I received at a Morrisons, via the supermarket, rather than the parking company. Time limits catch people out when they’re new or not clearly signposted. Again, dialogue is key. If you don’t try, you don’t win. A call or email to explain the situation, and that you weren’t exploiting the facility, can go a long way.