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Parking Fine Loopholes – 2022 Laws

parking fine loopholes

For free and impartial money advice and guidance, visit MoneyHelper, to help you make the most of your money.

Are there any parking fine loopholes to get you out of paying a parking ticket? You’ll be pleased to know that there are some ways to get out of a parking fine. 

We recap on the different parking tickets before uncovering the loopholes that could save you money!

Do You Have to Pay?

In many circumstances parking tickets are not enforceable.

It’s a bit sneaky, but last time I had a parking fine, I paid £5 for a trial to chat to an online solicitor.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor fees, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

You can try it out now, just remember to cancel the trial once you’ve got your answer.

What are parking tickets?

Parking tickets are fines handed out to motorists typically for failing to pay for parking or for overstaying the amount of time they paid to park. Sometimes they can be issued for not parking correctly or in places where parking is allowed, such as on double yellow lines. 

There are different types of parking tickets. The two most common are Penalty Charge Notices and Parking Charge Notices. Although they sound similar, it’s important not to get them confused. 

Penalty Charge Notice

A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN), sometimes called an Excess Charge Notice (ECN),  is a fine from a local authority or transport group. They are given to motorists who are guilty of a parking contravention on council land, but they can also be issued for some traffic offences and unpaid road tolls. 

The council can leave a Penalty Charge Notice on your vehicle or send it in the post. The usual cost can range from £60 to £130. Most councils have a lower and higher fine depending on the location of the parking contravention or the seriousness of it. You can get 50% off if you pay within the first 14 days. 

Parking Charge Notice

A Parking Charge Notice is a parking ticket from a private parking company. They are issued to motorists for unauthorised parking on private land. Most private parking firms operate standalone car parks or a car park attached to a business, such as a supermarket car park. If you don’t pay for your parking, they can serve you with a Parking Charge Notice. 

New laws have significantly reduced the cap on private parking fines. Previously, the parking company could charge you up to a £100 parking fine for unauthorised parking. But since 2022, a private land parking ticket in England and Wales can only cost £50. The only exception is in London where these fines can cost £80 maximum. 

You must also be offered at least a 40% discount on the fine for paying within 14 days. 

Are council parking fines enforceable?

Council parking fines are enforceable. The council has a straightforward process to get a judge to ask you to pay if you ignore these fines. If you have received a parking ticket from a local council, you shouldn’t ignore it. 

Are parking fines on private property enforceable?

Private parking fines aren’t initially enforceable because they’re not real penalties, but they could become enforceable if the parking firm escalates the matter. 

Parking Charge Notices are more like invoices from private parking companies. They’re billing you for not paying for the service they provided or for going against the terms of using their car park. 

What happens if you don’t pay a Penalty Charge Notice?

Local authorities send charge certificates to motorists who don’t pay or appeal a Penalty Charge Notice within 28 days. The charge certificate increases your fine by 50% and provides you with 14 more days to pay the inflated fine. 

If you miss the deadline after a charge certificate has been issued, the council can start court proceedings. They can ask a judge to issue you with a court order that requests you to pay the council parking ticket. You may be also responsible to pay court costs due to the escalation. 

Not paying the Penalty Charge Notice after a judge has asked you to is a bad idea. The council will be given permission to use debt enforcement action, which could mean bailiffs at your doorstep. 

A private bailiff company may be used to recover the money, and the bailiffs add their own expensive fees to your debt in the process. The bailiff fees alone could be more than your ticket. 

What happens if you don’t pay a private car park fine?

When you don’t pay a Parking Charge Notice, the company is likely to send payment reminders, use debt collection agencies to chase you for payment and eventually threaten court action. 

They or the debt collection agency working for them could send a Letter Before Action (LBA). This is a final chance for you to pay the fine or expect to be taken to court. Sometimes these letters are genuine and the company will take you to court, which is why ignoring them is a risk. 

But on other occasions, these letters are just scare tactics trying to get you to pay out of fear of legal proceedings. There’s no way of knowing for sure. Some people do choose to ignore them and never get taken to court and never end up paying. 

How to get out of a parking ticket

The only way to get out of a parking ticket once it has been served is to make a successful appeal, which should include a reasonable excuse and evidence. Or your appeal should take advantage of one of the parking fine loopholes. 

You must appeal by the deadline, which is usually 28 days for council and private parking fines. 

How to appeal parking tickets

You usually appeal to either type of parking ticket by making a formal appeal known as a representation. This is a statement or letter explaining why you think the parking fine should be cancelled. For the best chance of getting the fine withdrawn, you might need to attach good evidence, such as a photograph of a broken ticket machine or unclear parking signs.

You might be required to make an informal appeal first. But if this is rejected you can progress to a representation.  

If the local council or private parking operator rejects your appeal, you can take your appeal to an independent tribunal instead. The tribunal you have to use for council parking fines depends on the location of the council. And the tribunal you have to use for private parking fines depends on what Accredited Trade Association (ATA) the parking firm is a member of. 

Most private companies are members of the British Parking Association (BPA), which means escalated appeals have to be handled by Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA). 


Parking fines loopholes

So what loopholes and excuses can you use when making a parking ticket appeal? Below are some of the legal loopholes followed by some convincing excuses. Some of the excuses might need solid evidence.

The grace period loophole

The law states that you shouldn’t be given a parking fine if you bought a valid ticket and only overstayed in the car park by ten minutes or less. The grace period applies on public land or in private car parks.

So if a Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) or private firm attendant issued you with a parking fine when you overstayed by less than ten minutes, you can use this loophole to get out of having to pay.

The time limit loophole

Councils and private firms must serve you with the parking fine within 28 days or 14 days since the supposed parking contravention or unauthorised parking, respectively. They can do this by leaving the ticket on your vehicle or by sending you it in the post. 

If they don’t serve the parking ticket in this timeframe then the fine might no longer have to be paid. However, there are some other factors that could give the council or private car park operator additional time, which you can read about here

Blue badge holder legal loophole

Some of the usual parking rules are different if you have a blue badge and display it clearly on your windshield when parked. Some parking attendants may not even know about the unique rules. 

For example, blue badge holders can park on double yellow lines for up to three hours in some cases. If you have a blue badge and had it on display when parked, you may want to double-check that you did actually break any parking laws. 

What is the best excuse to appeal a parking ticket?

Of course, the loopholes above are great reasons to appeal against a parking ticket. The law should clearly favour you. 

But what are some other good excuses to use when making an appeal? The below excuses are known to get people out of paying their parking fines. Sometimes you’ll need evidence. 

#1: Poorly marked parking signs

If the car park or street doesn’t clearly display the parking rules or that you have to pay, you can use this as an excuse to appeal. You should get photos of the unclear parking signs, which may be damaged or hidden by overhanging trees and shrubs.

#2: Broken parking meter 

Broken parking machines are one of the most common excuses to get out of paying a parking ticket. However, some private car parks state that you should not park when the parking metre isn’t working. But are those signs clearly marked and easy to see?

#3: You were parked correctly

Human error or a lack of knowledge by the parking warden could get you a parking fine. If you know you were parked correctly but still received a fine, it’s a great reason to make an appeal! 

#4: Your car broke down

You might be sent a parking fine if you stay in the car park while a mechanic fixes your car so you can leave. As long as you have an invoice or evidence from the mechanic, this is usually enough to get you off the hook. 

Similarly, if your hospital appointment is delayed, you should get confirmation from the hospital. 

#5: You made a typo

Some payment machines ask you to enter your vehicle registration number. If you got a ticket because you entered your registration incorrectly, you shouldn’t have to pay. 

Can you write off parking fines?

You cannot claim parking fines as a business expense, even if they were the result of a business trip. You can claim original parking costs, fuel expenses and road tolls. 

Beware of the scam parking ticket

Be aware of scam parking tickets that claim to be from private companies. These scams want you to make a payment and will threaten legal action to make you pay. You should check to see if the company exists and try to identify if it’s a real letter from that company. Sometimes it can be hard to tell them apart.

Do You Have to Pay?

In many circumstances parking tickets are not enforceable.

It’s a bit sneaky, but last time I had a parking fine, I paid £5 for a trial to chat to an online solicitor.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor fees, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

You can try it out now, just remember to cancel the trial once you’ve got your answer.