Getting a parking ticket is one of the most frustrating things we regularly have to deal with. It’s typically not such much about what we have to pay, but the anger at the unfairness and randomness of many tickets that ruins our day. Councils are increasingly trying to make up their budget shortfalls by issuing more and more parking tickets, and even bringing in private companies with incentivised staff to issue more tickets. The good news is that many parking tickets can be successfully appealed quite simply, allowing you to avoid paying out on an unfair ticket.
First check you’ve got a genuine reason to appeal. If you’ve clearly violated parking laws such as parking on zigzag lines then you’ll find it difficult to appeal successfully. If this is the case the best thing to do is realize your mistake, pay the fine quickly to get the discount, and move on. If however the no parking sign was obscured, the allowed parking area not clearly defined or an attendant got you on a minor technicality it’s worth a shot at appealing.
So if you’re convinced you’re in the right and have a good chance at an appeal you need to start the appeal process immediately. Most parking tickets give you a discount if they’re paid in the first fortnight, so the quicker you appeal the more chance you’ve got of paying less should the appeal fail. Some councils will give you an extra fortnight after the appeal decision, but some won’t, so don’t rely on it – get the appeal in quickly instead.
Who you appeal to depends on which authority issued the parking ticket. It’s not just local councils that issue tickets. The police issue them too, as do private land owners such as supermarkets. First let’s look at tickets issued by public bodies such as councils as these are by far the most common.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that about half of appeals over council issued parking tickets are ultimately successful, although many have to go to the final Independent Tribunal stage to achieve victory. Given such a high chance of success the effort put into gathering together evidence can really be worth it, especially if the fine is high.
Gathering evidence should be done immediately, ideally before you move your car. Camera phones are great for this. Take photos of your car location, or if it’s already moved or been towed then where it was. Make sure you show road markings and road signs, especially if these are confusing. If they aren’t present take photos showing this too.
There could be other relevant evidence too depending on circumstances. If you were parked on the street while on holiday and the council suspended on street parking, travel documents showing you weren’t around to move your car can help. Try to get other people to sign witness statements saying they also found the parking in the area confusing, and send these in as evidence.
If you’re vehicle has been clamped or towed you need to deal with it straight away to avoid further charges. Don’t worry about paying these costs, as paying them isn’t seen as an admission of guilt. You could get the costs back later if you successfully appeal.
With private parking tickets things are a bit different. You’ve got a better chance of appealing private tickets than public tickets, and as the charges can often be higher it’s really worth doing. Write a firm letter establishing why the fine is unfair and including evidence to the company. If it’s a BPA approved operator then things are streamlined into a appeals process called POPLA. The application form is quite simple, although sadly they are quite strict on what reasons they’ll rule in your favor and mitigating circumstances aren’t on the list.