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Parking fines and debt. What should I do?

There are several different types of parking fines or penalties for other traffic offences. These can be issued by the police or the local council.

The way a fine is enforced depends on who issues it.

Use the details on the notice to pay the amount asked for.

  • The amount you need to pay may go down if you pay by a certain date
  • The amount can be doubled if you leave it too long

Types of parking fines

There are three common types of traffic penalties:

1. Fixed penalty notice (FPN) issued by the police

FPNs are issued for:

  • Parking
  • Dangerous driving
  • Other minor offences

Consequences include:

  • Points added to your licence
  • A financial penalty

How long you have to pay depends on where you are.

  • Northern Ireland – 21 days
  • England and Wales - 28 days

If you do not pay:

The only way to appeal against a FPN is to go to a hearing at the court.

2. Penalty charge notice (PCN) issued by local authority traffic wardens

These are issued for:

  • Parking
  • Other driving issues
  • Like driving in a bus lane

If you do not pay:

  • The amount you owe increases
  • The debt may be registered in the County Court
  • The local authority can use bailiffs or enforcement agents
  • Extra fees will be added

You can appeal a PCN. First through the council and then through a formal tribunal process.

3. Invoices issued by private companies for parking on private land

These are issued for overstaying in:

  • Supermarket car parks
  • Hospital car parks
  • Other private car parks

If you do not pay:

  • The parking company will write to you
  • They may apply for a County Court judgment

It has been illegal for these companies to clamp cars since 2012.

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My penalty charge notice is unfair. How do I challenge it?

You may be able to challenge a penalty notice if you think it is unfair.

Before you start your appeal:

  • Think about why the penalty is unfair
  • Gather evidence to support your case, like
  • Car park receipts
  • Photos of the parking meter

You can send your appeal either as:

  • A letter to the address on your parking fine ticket or
  • Via the parking enforcer’s website

In your appeal letter, make sure you include:

  • Your address
  • The date of the offence
  • Your vehicle registration number
  • The PCN number
  • The reason for appeal and why you believe it has been issued unfairly
  • All evidence that can support your appeal

How do I write my appeal letter?

You want to clearly get your point across in your appeal letter.

1. Explain why you are writing

  • Reference your PCN number
  • Reference the date, time and location penalty

2. Explain why you got a parking fine

3. Explain why you do not think this is fair. Some examples are:

  • Unclear or incorrect road signs
  • You were not driving when the fine was issued
  • You did not own the vehicle at the time
  • This means the offence was committed by the previous owner
  • You need evidence of ownership from the DVLA to prove this
  • You can prove you were allowed to park in a certain place within the timeframe of the fine
  • You have a Blue Badge due to a disability
  • That means you are allowed to park where you got the fine
  • Mitigating circumstances, like:
  • Parking on a double line for an emergency

Send your appeal within 14 days of being fined.

  • This gives you time to pay a reduced fine if your appeal is rejected
  • It does not guarantee your appeal will be successful

What is the difference between a penalty charge notice and a parking charge notice?

Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) are issued by your local council.

  • They can be confused with Private Parking Invoices
  • Also called a Parking Charge Notice

The main difference is that a PCN can be enforced with bailiffs.

A private parking operator cannot issue bailiffs, but they can:

Struggling to pay your parking fine?

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Worried about money?

We can help. Use our free online debt advice tool.

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Need help with parking fine debt?

Struggling to pay a parking fine could be the sign of a larger debt problem.

Use our online debt advice tool to find the best help for you.