The law

Parking Laws Explained

This fact sheet contains the following:

  1. Two-Tier Penalty / Charges
  2. Higher Level Penalty Charge Parking Contraventions
  3. Lower Level Penalty Charge Parking Contraventions
  4. Tips On How To Avoid Getting A Penalty Charge Notice
  5. Contesting Parking Fines
  6. Parking On Private Land
  7. Increased Administration And Costs For Employers

There was a radical shake up of parking enforcement in England and Wales from 31 March 2008 when the Civil Parking Enforcement Regulations came into effect (Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004).

Under the new regulations this activity is now known as Civil Parking Enforcement. Additionally, Parking Attendants are now to be known as Civil Enforcement Officers.

There are two levels of Penalty Charges depending on the severity of contraventions and in certain exceptional circumstances (the Civil Enforcement Officer is threatened or subjected to violence or the vehicle being driven away). There is no longer a need for a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) to be placed on a vehicle, or handed to a driver in order for it to be properly served as the new rules, in such circumstances allow the PCN to be posted to the registered keeper of the vehicle.

Furthermore, many parking offences can be enforced without the driver even being aware that they have been caught, since traffic authorities can now issue registered keepers with penalty notices on the basis of CCTV images.

These new parking rules will make it easier for traffic authorities to prosecute or penalise drivers for illegal parking and so the risk of drivers being caught if parked illegally will increase. However these new regulations, which cover on street and off street parking, aim to make parking fairer and more transparent and provide motorists with a consistent service across the country.

Two-Tier Penalty / Charges

Parking offences are now categorised as ‘serious’ or ‘less serious’. They incur penalties ranging from £40 to £120 depending on where the offence took place.

Some common offences, such as parking in residential bays or overstaying the paid time, now fall into the ‘less serious’ category. The penalties for such offences are £10 lower than before.

Traffic authorities usually reduce fines by 50% if paid within 14 days but increase the penalty for overdue payment. Ultimately, the traffic authority can register an unpaid fine as if it were a debt that is subject to a county court judgement (CCJ), and send bailiffs to the driver’s home. Bailiffs cannot seize a company car but would be able to take the driver’s personal belongings in lieu of payment.

Where offences are enforced by the police, such as parking on a zebra crossing, the ultimate sanction for non-payment of a penalty is a criminal conviction. The driver could be sent to jail in some circumstances.

Higher Level Penalty Charge Parking Contraventions

(a) On street

  1. Parked in a restricted street during prescribed hours.
  2. Parked or loading/unloading in a restricted street where waiting and loading/unloading restrictions are in force.
  3. Parked in a residents’ or shared use parking place without clearly displaying either a permit or voucher or pay and display ticket issued for that place.
  4. Parked in an electric vehicles’ charging place during restricted hours without charging.
  5. Parked in a permit space without displaying a valid permit.
  6. Using a vehicle in a parking place in connection with the sale or offering or exposing for sale of goods when prohibited.
  7. Parked in a loading gap marked by a yellow line.
  8. Parked in a suspended bay/space or part of bay/space.
  9. Parked in a parking place or area not designated for that class of vehicle.
  10. Parked in a loading place during restricted hours without loading.
  11. Vehicle parked more than 50 cm from the edge of the carriageway and not within a designated parking place.
  12. Parked adjacent to a dropped footway.
  13. Parked in a designated disabled person’s parking place without clearly displaying a valid disabled person’s badge.
  14. Parked in a parking place designated for diplomatic vehicles.
  15. Parked in a parking place designated for police vehicles.
  16. Parked on a taxi rank.
  17. Stopped where prohibited (on a red route or clearway).
  18. Stopped on a restricted bus stop/stand.
  19. Stopped in a restricted area outside a school.
  20. Parked wholly or partly on a cycle track.
  21. A commercial vehicle parked in a restricted street in contravention of the overnight waiting ban.
  22. Parked in contravention of a commercial vehicle waiting restriction.
  23. Parked in contravention of a coach ban.
  24. A heavy commercial vehicle wholly or partly parked on a footway, verge or land between two carriageways.
  25. Parked with one or more wheels on any part of an urban road other than a carriageway (footway parking).
    26. Stopped on a pedestrian crossing and/or crossing area marked by zig-zags.

(b) Off street

  1. Parked in a loading area during restricted hours without reasonable excuse.
  2. Using a vehicle in a parking place in connection with the sale or offering or exposing for sale of goods when prohibited.
  3. Parked in a restricted area in a car park.
  4. Parked in a permit bay without clearly displaying a valid permit.
  5. Parked in a disabled person’s parking space without clearly displaying a valid disabled person’s badge.
  6. Vehicle parked exceeds maximum weight and/or height and/or length permitted in the area.
  7. Parked in a car park or area not designated for that class of vehicle.
  8. Parked causing an obstruction.

Lower Level Penalty Charge Parking Contraventions

(a) On street

  1. Parked in a meter bay when penalty time is indicated.
  2. After the expiry of paid for time.
  3. Parked without clearly displaying a valid pay and display ticket.
  4. Parked with payment made to extend the stay beyond initial time.
  5. Parked at an out-of-order meter during controlled hours.
  6. Parked displaying multiple pay and display tickets where prohibited.
  7. Parked without clearly displaying two valid pay and display tickets when required.
  8. Parked without payment of the parking charge.
  9. Parked in a residents’ parking space without clearly displaying a valid residents’ parking permit.
  10. Parked in a residents’ or shared use parking place displaying an invalid permit, an invalid voucher or an invalid pay and display ticket.
  11. Re-parked in the same parking place within one hour of leaving.
  12. Not parked correctly within the markings of the bay or space.
  13. Parked for longer than permitted.
  14. Parked in a disc parking place without clearly displaying a valid disc.
  15. Parked in a disc parking place for longer than permitted.
  16. Parked with engine running where prohibited.

(b) Off street

  1. Parked in a meter bay when penalty time is indicated.
  2. Parked after the expiry of paid for time.
  3. Parked without clearly displaying a valid pay and display ticket.
  4. Parked with payment made to extend the stay beyond initial time.
  5. Parked at an out-of-order meter during controlled hours.
  6. Parked displaying multiple pay and display tickets where prohibited.
  7. Parked without clearly displaying two valid pay and display tickets when required.
  8. Parked without payment of the parking charge.
  9. Parked in a residents’ parking space without clearly displaying a valid residents’ parking permit.
  10. Parked in a residents’ or shared use parking place displaying an invalid permit, an invalid vouchernor an invalid pay and display ticket.
  11. Re-parked in the same parking place within one hour of leaving.
  12. Not parked correctly within the markings of the bay or space.
  13. Parked for longer than permitted.
  14. Parked in a disc parking place without clearly displaying a valid disc.
  15. Parked in a disc parking place for longer than permitted.
  16. Parked with engine running where prohibited.

Tips On How To Avoid Getting A Penalty Charge Notice

  1. Don’t skimp on time – When purchasing a ticket on street or in a car park always make sure you ‘buy’ enough time to get the shopping done or have that meeting and get back to the car.
  2. Make sure you display your parking ticket the correct side up.
  3. Don’t park on double yellow lines unless you are loading or unloading. Civil Enforcement Officers will observe vehicles to ensure that loading or unloading is evident.
  4. Do not park on single yellow lines during restricted hours unless you are loading or unloading. There should be a sign nearby which tells you when the restriction is in force.
  5. Park wholly within a marked bay. Taking up more than one bay is frustrating for other drivers trying to find a space and will result in receiving a penalty charge.
  6. Keep some loose change in your car to purchase a pay and display ticket. Don’t risk going for change and leaving your car in a pay and display area without displaying a valid ticket.
  7. Do not park in bays designated for other users such as bus stops, taxi ranks, disabled bays, etc.
  8. If you’re a blue badge holder, please ensure that your badge is displayed photograph down so that the expiry date can easily be seen, and set the clock at your arrival time. Disabled drivers should also not park in areas designated for other users or on yellow lines which have a loading restriction in force.

Contesting Parking Fines

Under the new rules, all local traffic authorities must include details of procedures for appeals on parking tickets and penalty notices. Independent parking adjudicators also have powers to make councils reconsider penalty charges.

If you wish to dispute your ticket on the basis of circumstances you feel are beyond your control, then do it. It is surprising how successful appeals against parking fines are. While considering your appeal the council will freeze the deadline date to pay until they respond. If your dispute is unsuccessful the council will expect payment within a specified number of days from the date of their response.

For appeals against fixed penalty notices issued anywhere outside London:

Appeals Outside London

For appeals against a fixed penalty notice issued in London:

Appeals In London

The Citizens Advice Bureau offers useful information on parking penalties. Thousands of drivers successfully contest parking charges every year. There is a wide range of free and paid-for services to help drivers to challenge fines, which drivers can find easily on the Internet. Drivers use such services at their own risk, of course.

Only a fraction of these Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued are contested but there is strong evidence many more drivers could beat their fine. Over 50%, of appeals are upheld and the fines withdrawn, in some London Boroughs it can be over 90%. Many appeals were not even contested by local councils. Sometimes councils will not contest appeals purely on the grounds that they want to clear a backlog.

Parking On Private Land

Owners of private land (e.g. car parks at shopping centres or service stations) and their agents can NOT issue fixed penalty notices. Demands for payment from private parking enforcement companies may be unenforceable or even illegal, even though they look legitimate. Drivers who wish to dispute such a demand are advised to get help from a Citizens Advice Bureau.

Increased Administration And Costs For Employers

Employers often incur handling and processing costs because penalty notices are sent to the registered keeper of a business vehicle (which is often the leasing
company). Many of these are for penalty notices that drivers are aware of but chose to ignore. Most employers pass these costs on to drivers along with the parking fines.

Some parking offences, such as leaving a vehicle on a pedestrian crossing or causing an obstruction, are police matters. They can leave drivers with a criminal record and even in extreme cases result in imprisonment.

The best way for businesses to manage parking and similar penalties is to encourage drivers to avoid them in the first place. Driver policy should clearly state that drivers are responsible for paying parking and congestion charges as well as any fixed
penalties (e.g. speeding) that they incur. Policy should also make drivers responsible for paying handling fees charged by leasing and rental companies as well as fines for late payment etc.