5 Rules to Know Before You Pay a Parking Ticket (PCN)

Parking tickets are big business. UK councils made a reported £667 million profit from Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) in 2013/14, with London boroughs accounting for 44% of the UK total.

New laws have been introduced in recent years to promote fairness, and to protect drivers, town centres and local businesses. And while many of these changes are helpful, they aren’t always straightforward or well-publicised. That’s why we’ve put together our list of things you might not know about parking fines in 2016 and beyond.

A Physical Ticket Isn’t Required

While there are lots of things a local council does have to do for a parking fine to be enforceable, surprisingly, putting one of the notorious yellow tickets on your windscreen isn’t one of them.

It’s quite possible for you not to know you have a parking ticket until you get a letter through your door. The letter itself will act as notice in much the same way as a conventional ticket otherwise would.

The only real implication of receiving your notice via post is that you have slightly longer to get the 50% discount for quick payment (21 days, vs. 14 for a ticket left on your vehicle).

10 Minutes of Grace

A 10-minute ‘grace’ period above and beyond your ticketed time applies to parking spaces both on- and off-street. So if you’re nearby and can’t quite remember where you parked your car, don’t panic.

The grace period only applies if you have a ticket though, so don’t count on it to quickly park up and dash into a shop - even if it’s to get some change for the parking meter.

It also doesn’t apply if you’ve parked on any form of yellow line, a dropped kerb or in a permit holder-only parking bay (or anywhere in Wales, the grace period only applies in England!).

Clamping & Towing

Clamping and complete removal of vehicles is increasingly rare for parking violations. A standard parking ticket is far more likely in most cases.

Councils and the police do however still clamp cars on public roads for repeat offences, with three or more unpaid Penalty Charge Notices outstanding. Equally, if it’s a built up area or your vehicle is causing an obstruction to local businesses, private property or other road users, it’s likely to get towed away entirely.

Tickets Are Easier Than Ever to Challenge

If you feel you received a parking notice unfairly, or have a good reason why you shouldn’t pay the fine, it’s easier than you might think to appeal.

The newly-revamped gov.uk website asks for a postcode and passes you through to your local council’s website. Each council then provides options of how to pay, or challenge, a penalty charge notice.

For a more direct, and arguably more straightforward approach, services like DoNotPay allows drivers to automatically appeal against inaccurate fines with just a few clicks. Pick from one of 12 the most popular reasons for defence - street signage, incorrect details on the parking ticket, or because the fine was obtained before you’d bought the car – and the service will automatically generate a customised appeal for you.

Parking Enforcement Cameras

Cameras that automatically issue fines have been largely outlawed, but are still allowed to operate around key areas such as schools and bus lanes.

These systems automatically dispatch a penalty notice to your DVLA-registered address, based on your vehicle’s registration. Notably, as the law requires you to notify the DVLA of any change in address, a penalty notice being sent to a previous address isn’t grounds for appeal.