Drivers will not have to pay parking fines of up to £100 for entering their number plate incorrectly when buying a parking ticket
Thu, 01/09/2020 – 11:30
Motorists who accidentally enter the wrong number plate when buying parking tickets will no longer be fined under new rules.
The British Parking Association (BPA) – the trade body which represents parking operators – has revised its Code of Practice so that firms will have to cancel charges if one letter or number is incorrect.
Under the previous rules, a driver could be fined up to £100 if they incorrectly entered the wrong car details.
The BPA categorises a minor keying-in-error as one letter or number incorrect or letters and numbers in the wrong order.
A major keying in error is one that has multiple number and letter keying errors, the first three digits only have been recorded or a completely incorrect registration number is used.
Drivers will still be required to challenge the fine, but under the new rules the penalty will be cancelled at the first stage of appeal.
The new rules also include a 10-minute grace period after a ticket has run out before operators can issue a fine.
There is concern that parking operators are becoming increasingly aggressive and that motorists are being unfairly punished for mistakes.
A growing number of parking operators require motorists to enter their number plate details on a pay-and-display machine or use mobile apps.
Analysis of government data by the RAC shows that an additional 2.05 million parking tickets were issued in 2018/19 compared with the previous year.
This means private parking companies are making up to £680 million from drivers a year.
Steve Clark, BPA head of business operation, says: “We recognise that genuine mistakes can occur, which may result in a parking charge being issued even when a motorist can demonstrate they paid for their parking. In recognition of this we have further clarified the situation for all parties.
“Motorists will still need to appeal, but we expect our members to deal with them appropriately at the first appeal stage.”
According to the main appeals body Parking on Private Land Appeal (POPLA), 67,122 parking tickets were appealed between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018 – up 95% on the 12 months to 31 march 2015.
John Gallagher, lead adjudicator at POPLA, says: “The revised code will bring greater clarity for motorists and parking operators alike on issues such as simple keying errors and grace periods. The introduction of a section on keying errors, requiring parking operators to cancel Parking Charge Notices in certain circumstances and reduce the amount to only administration costs in others, is particularly welcome.
“This addition to the code means that, for the first time, POPLA will be able to make decisions on keying-in-errors without referral back to the operator.“
The new rules came into force on 6 January, so fines prior to this date will not be affected.
What is a parking charge notice?
A parking charge notice is issued by a private company and is the result of parking incorrectly on private land or a car park.
It is different to a penalty charge notice, which is issued by a local authority for a parking infringement on public land.
How to appeal a parking ticket
Your first step should be to make an informal appeal.
If you think the parking charge notice is unfair you can contact the company or landowner to explain why you are disputing it.
Try to gather as much supporting evidence as possible. If the signs were not clear enough or the pay-and display was not working, make sure you get photos. A witness statement from someone who was with you would also be useful.
If you are unsure about what to put in a letter, Citizens Advice has a template you can use.
Don’t pay a fine if you want to appeal. If you pay it this is seen as an admission of liability.
Make sure the parking company is a member of the Accredited Trade Association (ATA). If it is not, they probably won’t be able to find your details as only ATA members can get your name and address from the DVLA.
You can check to see if a parking operator is a member on the British Parking Association (BPA) or International Parking Community (IPC) websites.
If you are unhappy with the outcome you can make an independent appeal.
If the parking company is a BPA member you have 28 days to make a formal appeal through POPLA.
If it is an IPC member you can make an appeal through the Independent Appeals Service.