Fixed fee parking fines

If you have ever received a fixed fee parking ticket we understand how frustrating it can be – particularly if you feel you have been unfairly penalised.

The rules relating to parking tickets can be confusing. You may even have been given conflicting advice by friends regarding the validity of the tickets and whether, for example, private parking firms can legally hand out fines.

With this in mind, here are the facts:

Penalty Charge Notices:

This is the name given to parking tickets that are handed out by traffic wardens working for public bodies – usually local councils. A PCN usually gives you the option to lower the amount of the fine if you pay within a certain period. Equally, if you ignore the PCN, the local authority has the right to increase the amount of the fine by a further 50 per cent.

For this reason, it is important not to ignore a PCN – even if you feel it’s been issued in error. You have the right to challenge fines but you will need to act quickly.

What about parking fines issued by the Police?

PCNs are not to be confused with Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs).

FPNs are issued by the police and are usually for parking offences that cause a potential hazard to other road users e.g. parking on zig zag lines next to a pedestrian crossing or blocking a junction.

In addition to a financial penalty, an FPN can result in you receiving points on your licence.

If you feel the FPN has been issued unfairly or there are mitigating circumstances, you should seek prompt legal advice.

Private parking tickets

In recent years there has been an increase in so-called private parking tickets. Parking enforcement firms, working on behalf of private landowners, supermarkets and hospitals, are increasingly issuing tickets, often designed to look like PCN tickets.

Do I have to pay?

That depends. If you have ignored written warnings that you are parking on private land or have breached the terms of their parking rules, then strictly speaking you have ‘breached their contract’ and, as such, you are in the wrong.

If the private enforcement company is a member of the British Parking Association (BPA) they will have access to the DVLA’s records and will be able to access the name and address of the registered keeper of the vehicle.

As such, a failure to pay their fine could result in them taking you to court.

What happens if there are no written warnings or I think the fine is unfair?

If you feel that a private parking enforcement agency has overstepped their authority or you believe you are innocent, you should not simply ignore the parking ticket.

There is legal redress but it is important to act quickly.

A number of motorists who have chosen to ignore private tickets, believing the law is on their side, have found themselves summoned to court, where they have faced hefty charges for late payment plus legal costs.

What happens if I have ignored multiple parking fines?

Ideally, you should deal with a parking ticket without delay but there can be occasions where parking tickets can mount up.

In such circumstances, it is possible, with specialist legal support, to negotiate a smaller settlement figure with the parking authority or private enforcement agency.

At Palmers, we recently acted on behalf of a client whose parking tickets had accumulated, with fines of more than £1,000 owing.

We successfully negotiated on their behalf and – even when taking into account legal fees – were able to save them more than £500.

If you are worried about multiple parking fines, please contact us.

What about Dartmouth Tunnel Crossing (Dart Charge) fines?

Although not strictly a parking ticket, our team have recently advised a number of motorists on fines incurred after they inadvertently racked up multiple penalties for failing to pay Dartmouth Tunnel Crossing charges on time.

How did this happen?

The Dartford Tunnel toll booths were removed to make way for Automatic Number Plate recognition (APN), designed to help speed up crossings. Motorists must now pay the Dartford Crossing charge by midnight the day after they cross or face a fine. However, a change in personal details, such as moving home, has meant some motorists who had failed to pay the £2.50 crossing fee on time, were being chased at their old addresses.

By the time the letters found their way to them – particularly if they used the crossing regularly as part of their daily commute – they had racked up hundreds of pounds worth of fines!

If you facing hefty penalties as a result of Dartmouth Tunnel Crossing late payment fines, please contact us.

Supervising Partner, Road Traffic Officer