You’ll be very lucky, or very cautious, to get through life without getting a parking fine. For most new drivers they’re almost a rite of passage.
Whether it’s because we skip that section of the Highway Code or we learned it all too long ago to even remember, parking fines can put a dampener on the best of days.
Not many people know you can be fined up to £1,000 for parking on the road at night if you’re not facing the direction of the traffic – even though it’s perfectly legal during the day.
This is because the rear reflectors on the back of a car make it visible to oncoming drivers in the dark. The rule only applies when you’re not parked in a designated area, though remember you can still be stung if someone else parked the car and you could have moved it.
At night, you must always put your sidelights on when parked on the road or in a lay-by with a speed limit above 30mph.
You’d be surprised how many people are fined, and/or see their vehicle clamped or impounded, because they’ve parked in a strictly prohibited spot.
These include, but aren’t limited to
Generally, you’re not allowed to park or wait on double yellow lines for any reason.
There are, however, a couple of exceptions to the double yellow line rules (although both of these only apply where there are no loading restrictions):
The rules for single yellow lines are slightly different to double yellows as you’re only prevented from parking or waiting there at certain times. There aren’t standard rules for single yellow lines but there will be signs nearby explaining when you can’t wait or park there.
It’s not illegal to park on pavements but you must not block it for wheelchair-users, prams and other pedestrians who need to get by. Some residential areas have narrow pavements and roads because they pre-date cars, so choose where you park carefully.
Although you won’t get fined under the current laws, your vehicle could be towed away if it’s causing an obstruction.
But the rules are different for Londoners. Under rule 244 of the Highway Code, it’s forbidden to park either ‘partially or entirely’ on the pavement in London unless signs state otherwise. The footway parking ban also includes:
Break the law and you’ll be liable for a £70 fixed penalty charge. You can find out more on London Councils’ website.
From 2021, drivers will no longer be able to park on pavements in Scotland; the news came in October 2019 after more than a decade of campaigning to ban the practice.
In England and Wales, the fight to ban pavement parking is ongoing. Following a consultation that ended in November 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) is currently considering three options - one being to extend the London ban so it applies across the country.
There are different types of parking ticket that can be issued, and the type of ticket you get affects how you can appeal.
A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or Excess Charge Notice (ECN) comes from a council, normally for parking or driving issues such as parking on double yellow lines, stopping in a box junction or not paying the London Congestion Charge.
Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) are issued by the police, councils or DVSA and come before a potential Magistrates’ Court hearing – so if you ignore the FPN, you could end up in court.
They come with a fine and, quite often, penalty points on your driving licence. They’re issued for parking problems and driving offences, such as speeding.
If you accept guilt, pay the fine or collect the points, you’ll avoid court, but if you challenge the ticket you’ll have to go to Magistrates’.
The final type of ticket, and one that causes a lot of confusion, is also abbreviated to PCN - Parking Charge Notices. These are issued by landowners or private parking companies if you’ve parked on private land or overstayed the maximum time in a supermarket car park, for example.
These Parking Charge Notices (Parking, not Penalty) do not come with the same legislative power as council-issued tickets, so you can dispute them. The company that issued the ticket can take you to a small claims court if you refuse to pay.
You may be able to appeal a ticket where:
Give as much evidence as possible in your appeal as it’ll give you a greater chance of being successful. You could include a valid pay and display ticket, photos showing there were no road markings to restrict parking or that signs were hard to see or difficult to understand.
A witness statement letter from someone who was with you explaining what happened or a repair note if your car broke down would also be useful.
Other important information to include is:
There are some to think about, expense being one. Often you can pay half price if you cough up within 14 days of the ticket being issued.
Making an informal appeal by contacting whoever issued you with the parking ticket is free of charge, and even if you lose a PCN appeal, most councils will still let you pay just the discounted rate at this stage.
However, if you go on to make a formal appeal and lose you will definitely pay the full fine, so it might be worth going all the way and appealing to an independent adjudicator, at which point 56% of cases usually win.
You could end up in court if both appeals are rejected, the independent tribunal disagrees with your appeal and you then refuse to pay.
This could impact on your credit rating and will result in you having to pay court costs.
We surveyed 2,000 UK motorists about their experience of parking fines and attitudes towards parking. 60% told us they'd had a parking fine sometime in their life.
The most common cause was overstaying the time they had paid for (29%), although 19% said they received a ticket because the signage was unclear and 17% because they didn't realise they needed to pay for parking.
The average amount motorists told us they've paid in parking fines is £155. While more than half of drivers who received a ticket said they had submitted an appeal against it.
We also asked motorists if they'd illegally park if no parking spaces were available. Just under half (48%) said they would break the rules. 26% said they'd park on the kerb, while one in ten said they'd park in a private residential car park, and 7% admitted they'd park in an accessible parking space.
The latest figures from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal (TPT), which looks at Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) issued in England (excluding London), show that in 2020/21 the number of PCNs successfully appealed was 38%, a further 26% were not contested by the local authority.
Where private tickets are concerned, according to figures from POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals), 45% of appeals resulted in overturned parking charges, while in just over 23% of cases the parking operator decided not to contest the appeal.