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Penalty Charge Notice Law – Everything You Need to Know

Scott Nelson MoneyNerd Janine Marsh MoneyNerd
By
Scott
Scott Nelson MoneyNerd

Scott Nelson

Debt Expert

Scott Nelson is a renowned debt expert who supports people in debt with debt management and debt solution resources.

Learn more about Scott
&
Janine
Janine Marsh MoneyNerd

Janine Marsh

Financial Expert

Janine is a financial expert who supports individuals with debt management, cost-saving resources, and navigating parking tickets.

Learn more about Janine
· May 27th, 2024
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Penalty Charge Notice Law

Have you got a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and are wondering if you should pay or appeal? You’re in the right place. Every month, more than 130,000 people visit our website looking for guidance on fines and parking tickets.

This article will give you simple and clear advice on:

  •  What a Penalty Charge Notice is.
  •  If you must pay a Penalty Charge Notice.
  •  How to appeal a Penalty Charge Notice.
  •  How much a Penalty Charge Notice could cost.
  •  What happens if you don’t pay or appeal a Penalty Charge Notice.

The DVLA reports that over 11 million parking tickets were issued last year, which is up by 29% year on year!1 So, you’re not alone. 

Don’t worry, we’re here to help you understand more about Penalty Charge Notice law and what you should do.

Most Ticket Appeals Succeed

In some circumstances, you might have a legitimate reason not to pay your parking fine.

It’s a bit sneaky, but the last time I needed legal advice, I paid £5 for a trial to chat with an online solicitor called JustAnswer.

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

Chat below to get started with JustAnswer

*According to Martin Lewis, 56% of people who try to appeal their ticket are successful and get the charge overturned, so it’s well worth a try.

What is a Penalty Charge Notice?

A Penalty Charge Notice is a fine served by a local council or Transport for London.

The fines are issued either because the motorist:

  1. Is thought to be guilty of a parking contravention on council land
  2. Might be guilty of a parking offence, such as driving in a bus lane
  3. Hasn’t paid a road toll or congestion charge by the deadline

The law states that a Penalty Charge Notice is a real fine and can be served by councils and some transport groups.

They are not the same as private parking fines which the law doesn’t recognise as real fines. Thus, they should be tackled differently. 

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Get legal support from JustAnswer

Do you have to pay?

After receiving a Penalty Charge Notice, you usually have 14 days to pay a reduced fine and then a further 14 days to pay the full fine. 

But you don’t have to pay within 28 days in a certain situation.

Successful Appeal Case Study

Situation

Initial Fine £100
Additional Fees £171
Total Fine £271

The Appeal Process

Scott used JustAnswer, online legal service to enhance his appeal. The trial of this cost him just £5.

Total Fine £271
Cost of legal advice £5

JustAnswer helped Scott craft the best appeal possible and he was able to win his case.

Scott’s fine was cancelled and he only paid £5 for the legal help.

Get started

In partnership with Just Answer.

Is it a criminal offence?

A Penalty Charge Notice won’t result in a criminal offence whether it is served for a parking contravention or a minor driving offence.

Nor will you get points on your license for receiving one of these fines. 

How is a PCN issued?

A Penalty Charge Notice may be issued by a staff member leaving the PCN on your vehicle windscreen or it could be sent to the registered vehicle owner in the post. 

The council or transport group might only see your parking contravention or driving offence on camera so are unable to serve the PCN by leaving it on your vehicle. 

In these instances, they will note your vehicle registration number and ask the DVLA to give them the address of the registered vehicle owner.

The council or transport authority will then send the PCN to this address.

I was recently featured in The Sun about parking tickets, where I encouraged everyone to check whether the ticket was issued by a member of a trade association.

If they aren’t, then they probably can’t get your details from the DVLA to pursue you.

Getting the support of a Solicitor can take a huge weight off your mind.

Get started

Reviews shown are for JustAnswer.

How long does it take to arrive?

When a Penalty Charge Notice is sent in the post, it should arrive within 28 days of the parking or driving incident. 

If it arrives after 28 days, you could use this as grounds to appeal and not have to pay the fine.

However, there may be cases when you can’t get out of paying because the PCN arrived late, such as process errors from the DVLA that caused the delay. 

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Get legal support from JustAnswer

How much is a Penalty Charge Notice?

Penalty Charge Notices can range from £50 to £80 in most cases.

The exact amount you’ll be charged depends on the seriousness of the contravention and its location. Fines can be on the higher end in London. 

However, the fine must be reduced further if the motorist agrees to pay within two weeks.

You’ll usually get 50% off for paying early, which makes these fines considerably cheaper. This may be your best option depending on the circumstances. 

How do you appeal a PCN?

Your appeal, which might also be called a representation, must be made in writing.

This could mean having to write a letter to the council or transport group. Or it could be made in writing via their website.

You’ll need your PCN reference number to get started. 

The appeal should state your reason or reasons why you want the PCN to be cancelled. Sometimes having good reasons isn’t enough and you might also need to supply evidence.

For example, you might argue that the only payment machine wasn’t working, but it’s best to have a photo or video of it out of order as well. 

Appeal Process Steps

To learn more about the process of appealing your parking ticket, please check out the table below.

Process: Steps you should take:
When you receive the ticket… You should gather as much evidence as you can to support your appeal claim and prove that the ticket was unfairly issued.
If you were given the ticket in person/attached to your car… You must make an informal appeal (sent to the local authority/council that issued the PCN) within 14 days. This should be a letter with the evidence proving why the ticket was incorrectly given.
If it was posted to you… You will be given 21 days to submit an informal appeal (from the day you received the letter). Your informal appeal should be a letter with the evidence proving why the ticket was incorrectly given.
If the informal appeal is rejected… You will receive a Notice to Owner and will have 28 days to respond to this with a formal appeal. You can conduct the formal appeal online or via paper form. The Traffic Penalty Tribunal can send you one of these forms.
If the formal appeal is rejected… You will receive a Notice of Rejection. From here, you are free to challenge the council’s verdict at an independent tribunal.
If the independent tribunal disagrees with your appeal… You should pay the ticket within 28 days of the tribunal rejecting your appeal. If you don’t, the fine will be increased by 50%.
If you don’t have the money to pay the fine, you should contact Citizens Advice or another debt charity.

What happens if you don’t pay or appeal?

Not paying or appealing within the 28-day deadline will result in a charge certificate being sent out.

A charge certificate is a formal notice stating that you have missed the deadline to pay, and as a consequence, increases your fine by 50% of its original value.

So if your initial PCN was £50 it will now be £75, and if it was £80 it will now be £120. 

You have 14 days to pay the inflated fine once the charge certificate has been issued. But what happens if you also ignore the charge certificate?

Ignoring a charge certificate can result in a court order against you and possibly the use of bailiffs to recover the money.

At this point, expensive fees would be added meaning you have to pay even more. 

Hire a Parking Solicitor for less than a coffee.

If you’re thinking about appealing your parking ticket then getting some professional advice is a good idea.

Getting the support of a Solicitor can make your appeal much more likely to win.

For a £5 trial, Solicitors from JustAnswer can look at your case and help you create an airtight appeal.

Try it below

Get started

In partnership with Just Answer.

References

  1. RAC Foundation – Parking Tickets Statistics
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The authors
Scott Nelson MoneyNerd
Author
Scott Nelson is a renowned debt expert who supports people in debt with debt management and debt solution resources.
Janine Marsh MoneyNerd
Appeals Expert
Janine is a financial expert who supports individuals with debt management, cost-saving resources, and navigating parking tickets.