It pays to challenge an unfair parking fine, because a new study has revealed that more than a quarter of all parking challenges end with the fine being cancelled.
The figures were revealed by car buying experts Zuto, who issued freedom of information requests to eight of the biggest councils. They discovered that between August 2014 and July this year, 170,127 tickets were contested, and 46,122 ended with the fine being cancelled. In total it means that more than £3.2 million in fines was wiped out.
Edinburgh issued the most tickets - 231,556 tickets (worth almost £14 million). The London Borough of Ealing was second (£12.4 million worth of fines), Birmingham was third (£8.6 million), Glasgow fourth (£7 million) and Enfield fifth (£4.6 million).
Meanwhile, Bristol was home to the most controversial tickets, with around one in ten of its 85,000 parking fines ending in a successful challenge.
James Wilkinson, CEO of Zuto said: "While, as drivers, we should accept responsibility when we have broken parking regulations, our research suggests that there are a lot of unfair tickets being slapped on windscreens around the UK. With only one in five parking tickets actually being contested, there are probably a lot more drivers who are paying unfair fines."
The company has written a guide on how to challenge fines, available on its website. It says the first step is to be clear whether you think the fine is unfair and worth appealing. If you appeal and lose you may lose your discount for paying quickly, and may also have to pay any court fees - so think realistically whether you have a good case.
It also recommends appealing the fine within the 14 days, and including a line on your letter asking for the fine to be frozen. Don't pay the fine though, as it can make it harder to claim your money back.
In any case, it's worth gathering any evidence you have, and if possible taking photos at the time to support your argument. You can still appeal without them, but the more evidence you have, the more likely your appeal is to succeed.
There are different rules and procedures depending on whether it is a civil or criminal ticket, detailed on the site, so it's worth being clear about the kind of ticket you have, and sticking to the rules.
And finally, don't let the paperwork stop you. If you can get your head around a few forms, you can avoid paying a fine and defeat an unfair attack on your parking. Surely that's worth an hour or so of letter writing - no matter how stressful you find that sort of thing.
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