Parking Tickets

While parking tickets are the most common form of motoring penalty in the UK, the level of fine and the system are set to avoid fights. The system could not cope if everybody were to challenge their ticket. There is, therefore, a financial disincentive to fighting a ticket or paying late, as this increases the amount due. The rules are also complicated, meaning that people are unlikely to be able to work out how to fight them on their own . However, the level of fine means seeking legal advice costs more than the fine itself.

A parking fine is technically known as either a Fixed Penalty or a Penalty Charge. Parking tickets can be issued by either parking attendants or the police (traffic wardens), dependent on the policy of the local council where the offence arises. If the local council issue the ticket then it is not regarded as a criminal matter and you have to deal with the council. If the police issue the ticket it is a criminal matter and can involve the Magistrates’ Court.

The system is self-fulfilling. Any decisions made on a challenge to the fine are generally decided within the system. Both this and the rapid increase in punishment if you dare to question the fine are arguably in breach of human rights.

We cannot change the system: there are plenty of pressure groups out there to do that. Our ethos is to help our clients as much as we can within the system as it stands. We are therefore in the process of providing free information to try and help our clients deal with these issues.

Overview of Parking Tickets

Who Issues Parking Tickets?

Parking restrictions are enforced by either the police (normally traffic wardens employed by them) or the council (by parking attendants they employ or sub-contract to).

Council controlled parking attendants enforce yellow lines, meter and residents’ bays etc… The council also maintain ticket machines and meters as well as the signs and infrastructure of on and off-street car parking. The police generally enforce ‘Priority’ or ‘Red Routes’, but have a residual power to issue parking tickets generally.

In 1994 parking offences were decriminalised in London. This allowed the London boroughs to carry out their own enforcement or contract private companies to to do it on their behalf. Over time more and more councils have chosen to adopt this system, meaning a reduction in traffic wardens and an increase in parking attendants. Many people believe that profit now takes precedent over any concerns to maintain proper parking controls.

Police Penalties

Police officers and traffic wardens can issue ‘fixed penalty notices’ (FPNs). The notice provides details of the offence and how and when to pay. If you agree you committed the offence you should pay the fine, which is reduced if paid promptly. If you do not pay you are sent a ‘notice to owner’ as a reminder. If you still do not pay the fine increases by 50%,the offence becomes a criminal matter and you would be pursued in the Magistrates’ Court. You could be sent to prison in extreme situations (although this is highly unlikely).

Local Authority Penalties

A local authority parking attendant can fix a penalty notice to your vehicle. If you agree you parked wrongly you should pay the fine, which again is reduced if you pay promptly. If you do not pay you are sent a ‘notice to owner’, then a charge certificate and the fine will be increased by a further 50%. If you still don’t pay the local authority can register the debt as if it were a county court judgment (CCJ). If they then enforce the judgment it would be registered against you, your credit rating would be affected and they could dispatch bailiffs to take your car away and sell it or take away other possessions of yours to sell. You cannot be sent to prison for the debt.

Some local authorities issue parking tickets in their car parks and in metered or pay and display bays on the street. These are commonly known as “Excess Charge Notices” or “Standard Charge Notices”. They are processed by the local authority and enforcement takes place in the local Magistrates Court.

Parking restrictions

There are legal requirements that must be adhered to when signposting parking controls. What follows is a guide to the most common parking restrictions. Loading and unloading of vehicles is also covered.

Restrictive Parking Regulations

Restrictive Parking MarkingsWhere there are single yellow lines in place there will usually be some form of parking restriction in place. This may not be a restriction at all times. There will usually be a sign at or near that location giving the times or situations where the restriction is in force. In the majority of locations there will be exemptions from the regulations, the most common being for Blue Badge holders. In those circumstances, the relevant items need to be displayed clearly inside the vehicle. Loading or unloading is commonly allowed, unless expressly banned.

Permitted Parking

Permitted Parking MarkingsWhere this type of sign and road markings are in place the regulations will allow parking, most often but not always in a bay (your vehicle must be parked completely within the marked bay). There will normally be conditions that must be met to allow the parking, e.g. pay at a meter or purchasing a pay and display ticket. Some bays may be specifically reserved for residents’ parking, businesses, doctors or traders. Restrictions can also extend to different types of vehicles.

Where parking is free, it is often subject to a time limit which must be adhered to.

Absolute Restrictions

The ban on parking in these areas extends 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When the sign says ‘At any time’ it literally means 24 hours a day, although since 31 January 2003 Councils have not been required to state ‘at any time’ on the sign for it to be valid.

There are some areas where the ‘anytime’ restriction only applies for part of the year. Where this applies, a sign showing the duration of the restriction will be present.

Guidelines for Loading & Unloading:

Often there will be yellow ‘blips’/stripes on the kerb at loading points. These indicate a restriction on loading. Two ‘blips’ mean no loading ‘at any time’ and one ‘blip’ means that loading is restricted at certain times. Any restrictions will normally be shown on a white plate. Even if you have a Blue Badge you will not be allowed to park where loading restrictions are in force.

There are some exceptions to loading restrictions, allowing vehicles to stop briefly as follows:

When loading or unloading heavy or bulky items or if there are a large number of items for the driver to unload which would involve more than one trip (the vehicle should then be moved and parked legally as soon as the loading or unloading is completed).

Commercial vehicles are allowed to collect and deliver goods. Dealing with paperwork (e.g. invoices or delivery notes) can be included in the stopping time. When the delivery or collection is complete, the vehicle must be moved.

Even if an exception applies you must not load or unload a vehicle where it would cause an obstruction or close to a junction, otherwise you are likely to fall outside the exceptions to the parking rules.

Requirements for a valid parking ticket

An appropriate person must have issued the ticket. The Traffic Management Act 2004 allows Traffic Wardens, Police Officers and Civil Enforcement Officers employed by local authorities to issue parking tickets.

Parking tickets come in two types:

  • Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN’s) – Police Officers/Traffic Wardens.
  • Penalty Charge Notices (PCN’s) – Civil Enforcement Officers.

Under the 2004 Act a ticket can be issued without it actually being attached to the offending vehicle e.g. where the vehicle drives off. In addition, vehicle owners can also be issued and sent a ticket through the post. This allows local authorities to use CCTV to spot an allegedly offending vehicle and then send the owner a ticket.

Generally, there are no fixed rules about what a Notice should include save in London. However, any Notice should include the following information, and if it does not you should consider appealing the Notice:

  • the grounds on which the person issuing the notice believes that a penalty is payable with respect to the vehicle;
  • the amount of the penalty;
  • the date or period within which the penalty must be paid;
  • the amount payable if paid within 14 days;
  • what will happen if the penalty is not paid by the final deadline;
  • the address to which payment must be sent.

Parking ticket fine level structure

The Traffic Management Act 2004 introduced a new fine structure which is listed below:

In London

  • Band A: Higher charge: £120, Lower charge: £80
  • Band B: Higher charge: £100, Lower charge: £60
  • Band C: Higher charge: £80, Lower charge: £40

Outside London, two bands

  • Band 1 – Higher charge: £70, Lower charge: £50
  • Band 2 – Higher charge: £60, Lower charge: £40

Higher Band Penalty Charge Notices

  • Parking in a restricted street during prescribed hours;
  • Parking or loading/unloading in a restricted street where waiting and loading/unloading restrictions are in force;
  • Parking in a residents’ or shared use parking place without clearly displaying either a permit or voucher or pay and display ticket issued for that place;
  • Parking in an electric vehicles’ charging place during restricted hours without charging;
  • Parking in a permit space without displaying a valid permit;
  • Using a vehicle in a parking place in connection with the sale or offering or exposing for sale of goods when prohibited;
  • Parking in a loading gap marked by a yellow line;
  • Parking in a suspended bay/space or part of bay/space;
  • Parking in a parking place or area not designated for that class of vehicle;
  • Parking in a loading place during restricted hours without loading;
  • Parking in a designated disabled person’s parking place without clearly displaying a valid disabled person’s badge;
  • Parking in a parking place designated for police vehicles;
  • Stopped on a restricted bus stop/stand;
  • Stopped in a restricted area outside a school;
  • Parking wholly or partly on a cycle track;
  • Parking in contravention of a commercial vehicle waiting restriction;
  • Parking in contravention of a coach ban;
  • A heavy commercial vehicle wholly or partly parking on a footway, verge or land between two carriageways;
  • Parking with one or more wheels on any part of an urban road other than a carriageway (footway parking);
  • Stopped on a pedestrian crossing and/or crossing area marked by zig-zags;
  • Parking in a loading area during restricted hours without reasonable excuse;
  • Using a vehicle in a parking place in connection with the sale or offering or exposing for sale of goods when prohibited;
  • Parking in a restricted area in a car park;
  • Parking in a permit bay without clearly displaying a valid permit;
  • Parking in a disabled person’s parking space without clearly displaying a valid disabled person’s badge;
  • Vehicle parked exceeds maximum weight and/or height and/or length permitted in the area;
  • Parking in a car park or area not designated for that class of vehicle.

Lower Band Penalty Charge Notices

  • Parking without clearly displaying a valid pay & display ticket;
  • Parking after the expiry of paid for time;
  • Parking in a meter bay when penalty time is indicated;
  • Parking with payment made to extend the stay beyond initial time;
  • Parking at an out-of-order meter during controlled hours;
  • Parking displaying multiple pay & display tickets where prohibited;
  • Parking with engine running where prohibited;
  • Parking without clearly displaying two valid pay and display tickets when required;
  • Parking without payment of the parking charge;
  • Parking in a resident’ parking space without clearly displaying a valid residents parking permit;
  • Parking in a residents’ or shared use parking place displaying an invalid permit, an invalid voucher or an invalid pay & display ticket;
  • Re-parking in the same parking place within one hour of leaving;
  • Not parking correctly within the markings of the bay or space;
  • Parking for longer than permitted;
  • Parking in a disc parking place without clearly displaying a valid disc;
  • Parking in a disc parking place for longer than permitted;
  • Parking without payment of the parking charge;
  • Parking for longer than the maximum period permitted;
  • Parking after the expiry of paid for time;
  • Parking in a car park without clearly displaying a valid pay & display ticket;
  • Parking with additional payment made to extend the stay beyond time first purchased;
  • Parking beyond the bay markings;
  • Re-parking within one hour of leaving a bay or space in a car park;
  • Parking in car park when closed;
  • Parking in a pay & display car park without clearly displaying two valid pay and display tickets when required;
  • Parking in a parking place for a purpose other than the designated purpose for the parking place;
  • Parking with engine running where prohibited.
Disclaimer The contents of these pages are provided as an information guide only and are limited to offences committed in England and Wales. No responsibility is accepted for any errors, omissions, or misleading statements on these pages or any site to which these pages connect, including any feature or aspect of such site or pages, whether provided by Motor Defence Solicitors or by any organisation, company or individual. No mention of any organisation, company or individual, whether on these pages or on other sites to which these pages are linked shall imply any approval or warranty as to the standing and capability of any such organisations, company or individual on the part of Motor Defence Solicitors.