Finding a parking ticket on your car’s windscreen is frustrating and can dampen your day. However, as nice as it would be to be able to park your car just anywhere, restrictions are in place for good reason — they keep our roads safe and allow necessary access to important buildings.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always mean individuals park in accordance with the rules. The UK Government made more than £255 million from parking fines last year — the equivalent of 10 tickets issued by authorities every minute.
If you have been issued a parking ticket, you’ll need to decide the best course of action and respond in a timely manner. Depending on who the ticket was issued by and whether you think it was issued unjustly, you may be able to challenge it — we’ll explain how to do this and the various types of appeals. Alternatively, you may be better off simply paying the fine and striking it off.
In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about parking tickets so you can make your decision. We’ll run you through the different types of parking tickets and their repercussions, ways to deal with a parking ticket, and how to avoid getting one in the future. So, let’s get stuck in!
How does a parking ticket affect your car insurance?
If you’ve received a parking ticket, understandably, you’re probably wondering where that leaves you in terms of your insurance policy and whether your parking fine will increase your premium.
It is a common misconception that parking tickets affect car insurance rates. Only parking offences that result in points being added to your licence go on your record — only then can they affect your insurance premium. These result from more serious cases, such as traffic officers issuing a fixed penalty notice (FPN) due to a car being left in a dangerous position.
Other driving convictions that incur penalty points and can affect car insurance premiums include:
- Accidents: failing to stop or give particulars after an accident
- Careless driving
- Reckless or dangerous driving
- Drink driving
- Driving without insurance
Standard parking tickets are not classed as a criminal conviction and are instead considered to be a civil conviction. For this reason, they do not go on your driving record and therefore are not used by car insurance companies when determining car insurance rates. Furthermore, as a parking ticket is issued when the car is stationary, it is not considered to indicate how safe you are as a driver and how likely you are to be involved in an accident.
What is a parking ticket?
A parking ticket, also known as a parking fine, is issued when a driver has breached parking rules. They can be given for over 70 reasons, including parking on double yellow lines, parking without a valid permit, and parking in a pay-and-display car park without a ticket.
Despite a parking ticket not impacting your insurance, you still need to decide whether you will pay the fine straight away or challenge it if you think it is unjustified. How you challenge a parking ticket will depend on the type of ticket you have been issued.
Types of Parking Fines
There are three main types of parking tickets in the UK:
- Penalty Charge Notices (PCN): are issued by parking attendants (usually employed by local councils) for breaking traffic rules. These include driving in a bus lane or against a ‘no turn right sign’, as well as not paying charges for the London congestion zone or Dartford Crossing (Dart Charge) on time.
- Parking Charge Notices (PCN): issued by private landowners, e.g. owners of supermarket and hospital car parks.
- Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN): these are issued by traffic officers employed by the police for more serious offences such as leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position, speeding, and minor motoring offences.
How to challenge a parking fine
You may be able to challenge a parking ticket if you think it is wrong. Reasons for which you may feel the ticket was unjustified include:
- Confusing information about parking rules
- Unclear parking signs or road markings
- There was no method of paying for parking, e.g. the ticket machine was broken
- Your car broke down
- You weren’t able to get back to your car
- You were parked where you should be, such as in a marked bay
How you challenge a ticket will depend on the type of ticket you have been issued. Here’s how to challenge the following tickets:
- Penalty Charge Notice (PNC)
- Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)
- Standard or excess charge notice
- Ticket from a private company
Penalty Charge Notice (PNC)
You will have 28 days from the ticket date to challenge a PNC. If you do so within 14 days and your challenge is rejected, you may only have to pay half the cost of the fine.
How you challenge a PCN will depend on the type issued. The following table summarises the types of PCNs and how you go about challenging them:
|Type of PCN
|How to challenge it
|Local council PCN – received on the spot e.g. on your windscreen
|Make an informal challenge with the council
|Local council PCN – received in the post
|Make a formal challenge (also called a ‘representation’) with the council
|Dart Charge PCN
|Make a representation with Dart Charge
|Red route PCN
|Make a representation with Transport for London (TfL)
|Congestion charge PCN
|Make a representation with TfL
|Low emission zone PCN
|Make a representation with TfL
If your challenge is rejected, you’ll receive a ‘notice to owner’ which will explain how to make a formal challenge (‘representation’) or how to pay the fine. If you do receive a ‘notice to owner’, you’ll have 28 days to make a representation where you will need to provide copies of evidence or documents that may support your challenge and a detailed explanation as to why you are challenging the PCN. If your formal challenge is then successful, you will not need to pay the fine.
Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)
To challenge an FPN, you will be required to go to a magistrates’ court — details on the back of the ticket will inform you how to do this. You will then be sent a summons, including a court hearing date.
Standard or Excess Charge Notice
To challenge a standard or excess charge notice, check the ticket you’ve been issued or contact the issuer for ways to challenge it and how to proceed if your challenge is rejected.
Ticket From a Private Company
If you have received a ticket from a private company, check the ticket itself to see who the issuer is and how to challenge private parking tickets.
If your challenge to the company is rejected, you can try appealing to an independent appeals service. To do this, check to see whether the company is a member of an accredited trade association — this should be on their website or on the ticket itself. If they are a member of one of the following, you can appeal to the trade association:
- POPLA (Parking on Private Land Appeals) —applies if the company is a member of the British Parking Association (BPA)
- IAS (Independent Appeals Service) — applies if the company is a member of the International Parking Community (IPC)
How to Pay a Parking Fine
How you pay off a parking ticket depends on the type of ticket and by whom it was issued. Each method of paying your fine is detailed below.
Pay a penalty charge notice (PNC) online if it is one of the following:
- PCN from a local council
- PCN from Dart Charge
- Red route PCN from Transport for London (TfL)
- Congestion charge PCN from TfL
- Low emission zone PCN from TfL
If you have been issued a fixed penalty notice (FPN), you can choose one of the following methods:
- Pay an FPN online, or
- Check the ticket for alternative ways to pay
Or, if you have been given a parking ticket from a local council or a private company, check the ticket and contact the issuer for the payment deadline and ways to pay.
What happens if you don’t pay a parking ticket?
Unpaid parking tickets can be costly and can incur penalties if not paid on time; therefore, it is best to deal with them as soon as possible.
If you do not pay your parking fine, you may be faced with the following repercussions:
- PCNs: if you do not pay within 28 days, you’ll receive a ‘charge certificate’, and you’ll have to pay the original fine plus 50% more within the following 14 days. If you fail to comply, you’ll get a court order to demand payment.
- FPNs: you have 28 days to pay, after which you’ll have to pay the original fine plus 50% more. If you fail to pay that, you will be prosecuted and may have to pay an even more significant fine and court costs.
How to Avoid Parking Fines
There are several things you can do to avoid being issued a parking fine, such as:
- Always following road markings and signs
- Don’t park on double yellow lines, leaving your vehicle unattended
- Never stop at a bus stop unless you are queuing in traffic
- Always make sure when you are in a car park, you have parked within a designated bay
- Don’t block driveways or park on the pavement
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions pertaining to parking fines.
Can your car be clamped or towed?
It is illegal for private operators to clamp or tow your car on private land in England, Scotland and Wales. If your car has been clamped or towed by such an operator, it can be fined up to £5,000.
Otherwise, your car can be clamped if:
- Your insurance is invalid
- You have parked illegally
- You’re driving a commercial vehicle, and you’ve been driving for too many hours or have previous unpaid fines
- You’re considered a danger to others, e.g. if your car is overloaded
Similarly, your car can be towed if:
- Your insurance is invalid
- You’ve parked illegally
- Your vehicle is untaxed
How much does a parking fine cost?
The cost of a parking fine can vary depending on where you live and whether a private landowner has issued it. Additionally, the more serious an offence, the more expensive the parking fine will be.
Each council in the UK can establish their own costs for fines, with some being stricter than others. Generally, parking fines are between £50 and £130, with more expensive fines being issued in areas like London — these are usually between £80 and £130 depending on the offence.
In some cases, fines are reduced if paid within 14 days of being issued, so it is worth dealing with them promptly.
Do you need to declare a parking ticket to your insurance company?
As previously mentioned, parking tickets are considered a civil offence, not a criminal one. Therefore, you do not need to declare them to your insurance coverage provider. However, you do need to report any driving convictions to your insurance provider when you renew your insurance premium. If you have been given a driving ban, you’ll need to notify your auto insurance provider immediately, as failure to do so can invalidate your insurance policy. This can leave you to pay any charges for damage caused by an accident.