Parking and speeding fines

Caroline Cassidy

A recent Home Office report showed that there are around two million motoring offence court appearances per year in the UK. Up to 191,000 people are disqualified for motoring offences per year and 33,200 motorists are disqualified using the penalty points system. A further report shows that £600 million in speeding tickets were incorrectly applied to motorists. The percentage of people who challenge their fines is very low, around one percent. The cost of hiring a solicitor to challenge the fine is around £2,500.

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There are some defences that can be used to challenge a speeding ticket:

  • Incorrect details on the NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution)

  • That the alleged offender was not driving the car at the time of the offence

  • That the alleged offender was in an exempted vehicle attending an emergency

  • That the vehicle was a company van and the alleged offender was not driving, proof will usually be needed

  • That a family member was driving at the time

  • Incorrect or absent road signs

Of course, challenging a speeding fine is risky and anyone considering challenging a speeding ticket should take legal advice from a professional before proceeding. A solicitor will be able to assess the case and evidence to see if there is a likelihood of actually successfully challenging the alleged offence.

The current penalties for speeding in the UK are:

  • Fixed Penalty fine = £60 and 3 points

  • Average court fine = £128 and 3 to 6 points

  • 12 points within 3 years results in a minimum 6 month ban

There were almost four million parking tickets were issued in 2008, which means there has been a steady increase since council's took over enforcement back in 2000/1. Parking enforcement was decriminalised under the 1991 Road Traffic Act, now replaced by the Traffic Management Act 2004. This means that there are Civil Enforcement Officers patrolling the streets rather than the old Traffic Wardens.

What do you do if you return to your vehicle and you see the dreaded notice under the wiper? Well, you should certainly consider appealing. There will be details of how to do this on the PCN Penalty Cahrge Notice) and on the local council's website. It will normally mean writing a letter to explain the circumstances surrounding the issue of the penalty. Surprisingly, the vast majority of people pay their tickets without appealing.

The message is if you don't succeed try again. Most councils will offer three stages of appeal. So if you aren't successful you should make a second attempt. This is called a representation and will be dealt with at the full price of the penalty. Many people win their representations but if you aren't one of these then take your case to a Traffic Penalty Tribunal. You can't take the case to court because it is decriminalised, instead you will attend a tribunal which is overseen by a solicitor. The proceedings are entirely independent of the council and more than sixty per cent of people win their cases –so try.

If you have some mitigating circumstances like a medical reason, emergency work or any circumstances beyond your control you should almost certainly file an appeal. This will have even more chance of success if you can provide some kind of evidence to support your case. Beware trying to appeal your case on minor technicalities some of the common reasons given for appeal aren't correct. It's worth looking at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal website because they publish previously heard cases. This will give you a steer when it comes to appealing.