Got a parking ticket? These simple tips may help you avoid paying the big fine.

Know Your Enemy

The first thing to be aware of is the different bodies who can issue a fine. These comprise of the Police (usually by traffic wardens), the local council (by parking attendants) or private companies (almost always on private land).

Tickets issued by or on behalf of the Police are Fixed Penalty Notices and are issued through the criminal justice system, whereas council-enforced parking usually results in a Penalty Charge Notice.

The Appeal

Should you appeal? There’s a strong case for trying your luck; recent statistics show that over 60% of Penalty Charge Notices are subsequently overturned. Even if you feel the evidence in your defence is flimsy, give it a try. You usually have 14 days to pay a reduced fine but if you appeal this period is extended until the result of the appeal is given.

Appeals for parking offences deemed as criminal offences are more complicated, as you may only be able to appeal in court. Some areas do allow an informal plea, but in either case you need to write to the Central Ticket Office for the area as soon as possible.

How To Appeal - PCN

Gather as much evidence as you can; take photos of your car, where it was parked, the painted lines on the road (if any) and all relevant parking signs. By submitting these documents when appealing, you stand a better chance of getting the decision overturned. The details of the appeal process will be on the back of the PCN.

How To Appeal – Private Land

Strictly speaking when you contest the ticket you’re not ‘appealing’ – a ticket issued on private land is legal speaking an invoice. You need to write to the company involved and say you are refusing to pay (and give grounds if you have them) but don’t say you are ‘appealing’.

To get their money from you they need to be prepared to take you to court and win, which is far from guaranteed. If you can prove you either weren’t the driver of the car at the time or the legal owner of the car you can write to them and tell them this – and there’s no obligation for you to tell them who was either.

How To Appeal – Fixed Penalty Notice

The appeal process for a FPN is essentially the same as a PCN but with the added legal dimension. Your may be allowed an informal appeal but if this is not allowed or rejected then you need to present your case in front of a magistrate, which could get expensive and time-consuming. Unless you have good evidence of an error or mitigating circumstances this is likely to fail.