Parking tickets issued by the police
In many areas, parking on public land is managed by the local authority. Where it isn't, the police are responsible instead. Parking tickets can be issued by either the local authority parking attendant, or by a police officer or traffic warden.
On private land, parking is often managed by private parking companies who issue their own parking tickets. The rules about issuing these tickets are different to the rules about tickets issued by local authorities or the police.
On this page, read about what you can expect if you get a parking ticket on public land, issued by the police.
If you park on a public road and don’t follow the parking restrictions, you could have to pay a parking fine. A parking fine is officially called a fixed penalty or a penalty charge. The rules about fixed penalties and penalty charges depend on the policy of the local authority where you parked.
Many local authorities are responsible for enforcing parking restrictions and employ parking attendants to do this. In these cases, if you don’t follow the parking rules, you may receive a penalty charge which is a civil matter, not a criminal offence. However in some areas, it is the police and not the local authority who are responsible for enforcing parking restrictions. In these cases, if you don’t follow the parking rules, it is a criminal matter and you may receive a fixed penalty notice.
Receiving a fixed penalty notice
If you have parked your car illegally, a police officer or traffic warden can give you a fixed penalty notice. The police officer or traffic warden will fix it to your car.
The fixed penalty notice will say that you have 21 days to respond. You can either pay the fixed penalty, request a hearing in court or deny that you were the owner of the car.
If you accept you committed the offence, you can pay the amount they ask for. If you pay within a certain time period, the amount you have to pay is reduced. The notice will tell you how and when to pay.
If you do not respond to the offer within 21 days, you will be sent a 'notice to owner' reminding you to pay. If you don’t pay within the correct period of time, the amount you must pay will be increased by a further 50%. It will be registered as a criminal matter and you could get sent to prison if you don’t pay.
If you don’t agree that you committed the offence, you can opt for a court hearing by filling in Part III on the reverse of the penalty notice and returning it to the address provided. You will then receive a summons to attend court. Legal aid is not normally available for representation in court for driving offences. However you may qualify for advice and assistance for a solicitor’s advice on the case (the advice and assistance scheme allows people on low incomes to get free legal advice and assistance from a solicitor). If you weren’t the owner of the vehicle when it was illegally parked, you can send in a statement, called a statutory declaration, to say you are not the owner. In this case, you won’t have to pay. If you had lent your car to someone or your car was stolen at the time the penalty was incurred, you can make a statutory statement of facts stating that you weren’t the driver at the time. If you had lent your car to someone, that person will have to countersign the declaration, effectively requesting a court hearing for that person. If your car had been stolen, you will need to show evidence of this, for example, confirmation from the police or an insurance claim.
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