It looks like it might be easier than you'd think to get out of paying a parking ticket. According to recent research, over a quarter of people who complain about being handed a ticket have their fines cancelled. Car finance company Zuto has just released the findings (perhaps in the hope you'll spend your savings on a new car?) which show that of the 170,000 tickets contested over a 12-month period from 2013 to 2014, 46,000 of those were successfully withdrawn, cancelling fines worth £3.2m.
There is a lot of advice out there on getting out of parking fines, though it's worth noting that this advice is directed towards avoiding unfair tickets, not just any parking ticket. The gist of it seems to be that if you think you've been given a ticket unfairly, it might be a bit of a slog, but it's worth contesting. (According to personal finance site Money Saving Expert, 56% of drivers who then go all the way to the final independent tribunal stage win their appeal.)
The usual situations which result in a successful appeal include: if you get a ticket in the first three minutes after pulling up (ie while you were off buying a ticket); if your ticket had fallen off the dashboard; if the signs setting out parking fees weren't clear or visible; and if it was a Bank Holiday but you managed to park in one of the few places which still charges. Mitigating circumstances are also taken into consideration. These are all fairly common-sense, such as if your car had broken down.
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Some successful appeals are more unexpected than others. In August of this year, a driver in Canterbury won his appeal against a fine he received for putting his ticket upside-down on the car's dashboard. As a result of this decision, Canterbury City Council was forced to inform drivers that anyone fined for the same reason since February was likely also entitled to a refund.
Importantly, if you think you shouldn't have been given a ticket (and not just because you had an extra coffee instead of running back to the machine), don't pay the fine straightaway this is essentially admitting that you think you were in the wrong. Fines usually double if you don't pay within the first 14 days, so make sure you appeal before then. This way, even if you lose, you shouldn't have to pay the larger amount. Either way, you have up to 28 days to make an appeal and should get a response within 14 days. If your appeal is rejected (which is likely in the first instance), you can ask for a "Notice of Appeal" and appeal to the Traffic Parking Tribunal.
Sarah is MoneyWeek's investment editor. She graduated from the University of Southampton with a BA in English and History, before going on to complete a graduate diploma in law at the College of Law in Guildford. She joined MoneyWeek in 2014 and writes on funds, personal finance, pensions and property.
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