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At a glance: How to deal with council parking penalties.
Reading time: 2 mins
This summary covers England and Wales
To view information that covers Scotland, please click here.

What is a parking penalty charge?

Most councils can give penalties for things like parking on double yellow lines. A parking penalty could be:

  • given to you by a traffic warden
  • put on your car windscreen
  • sent in the post.

Most council’s parking penalties are not criminal offences. You cannot be sent to prison for not paying.

Who is responsible for paying?

If you own the car you are responsible for paying, even if you were not driving at the time.

Councils normally assume that the owner is also the registered keeper.

If you are the registered keeper but not the owner you are not responsible for paying, but you may need to prove to the council that you are not the owner.

Paying the penalty charge

You get 28 days to pay. This runs from the date you get the penalty, or from the day of service. This is the second working day after the date of the postmark on the letter.

If you pay within 14 days, you get a 50% discount.

If the penalty was sent by post, you get a 50% discount if you pay within 21 days.

Pay the charge in full if you can afford to. If you cannot afford to pay in full, make an offer to pay the council in instalments.

What happens if I don’t pay?

If you don’t pay, the council will send you a letter. If you received the original penalty by post, they will not send you a second letter.

The letter will tell you to:

  • pay within 28 days
  • There were medical reasons or other compassionate grounds.
  • or dispute the charge with the council within 28 days.

If you have still not paid after 28 days, the council may add an extra 50% to the amount you owe.

What can I do if I think the penalty is unfair?

You can make a formal appeal. The grounds on which you can appeal are listed in your penalty charge notice or ‘notice to owner’.

If you don’t fit into the grounds for appeal you can ask the council to use their discretion. You must have a good reason. These include:

  • There was an emergency.
  • There were medical reasons or other compassionate grounds.
  • The parking equipment was faulty.
  • The traffic warden made a mistake.

Some councils will also accept an informal appeal. Check with your council if they accept informal appeals and follow their instructions.

You will need to back up your appeal with any proof, such as photographs, copies of tickets, and witness statements.

Learn more about this topic

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can read our in-depth guide.

Read in-depth-guide

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