A parking ticket (officially called Penalty Charge Notice or PCN in the United Kingdom) is a civil fine imposed on vehicles parked in contravention of a parking restriction or control. There are 41 different On-street parking restrictions in the United Kingdom e.g parking on a restricted street, footway parking, parking on a meter bay indicating penalty time etc
However regardless of which specific infringement is being enforced, all parking tickets must contain generic information without which they would not be valid.
This generic information must be on all parking tickets as required by the Secretary of State (Transport) issued through the Department of Transport’s latest guidance to local authorities on parking enforcement. –‘Operational Guidance to Local Authorities Parking Policy and Enforcement – Section 8.40 November 2010
The information is categorised as Mandatory and Recommended information.
The date on which the notice is served
A parking ticket without a date or with the wrong one will be invalid and unenforceable
The name of the Enforcement Authority
Penalty Charge Notices must contain the name of the enforcing authority. This would usually be the local authority in whose jurisdiction the alleged infringement took place.
The registration mark of the vehicle involved in the alleged contravention
If the vehicle registration mark on the ticket is wrong, the ticket will be invalid and unenforceable
Date and time at which the alleged contravention took place
If the time is incorrect, the ticket will be incorrect and invalid.
The grounds on which the enforcing officer believes that an infringement has occurred and a penalty payable.
This must be one of the standard contraventions authorised to be used by local authorities. These contraventions are represented by codes which are denoted by two digits. For instance code 01 for parking on a restricted street (single or double yellow line), code 04 for parking on a meter in penalty, code 21 for parking on a suspended bay etc
Local authorities are also allowed to use what are called suffixes which are complementary alphabets/numerals used together with the contravention codes to explain in greater detail the nature and meaning of the contravention. For example parking on a shared use bay (accommodating both permit and paid parking uses) without a valid permit or pay and display ticket will attract a code 06. However this code can also be applied for the same offence on a pay and display bay. Some authorities will use the suffix ‘s’ together with a 06 on a shared use bay i.e. 06s and a p if the code is applied on a pay and display bay i.e. 06p
However the use of suffixes is not compulsory and their non use will not invalidate an otherwise correctly issued PCN. For a list of available suffixes please see section below
The amount of the penalty charge
The amount payable must be stated on the parking ticket. Differential charges for parking tickets reflecting the seriousness of the infringement were introduced in London in July 2007 and outside London in March 2008. For example stopping on a pedestrian crossing or within its white zig zag markings will attract a heavier financial penalty that overstaying on a meter or pay and display bay.
There are 2 bands of charges outside London and 3 bands within London; these are reviewed from time to time by the Secretary of State for Transport.
Payment and Appeals procedures (Mandatory)
The ticket must provide information on how it can be paid i.e. by phone, postage, website etc including postal addressees Deadlines for payment must also be stated. A 14 day period must be allowed for paying the charge at 50% of the stated charge
The ticket must allow 28 days for payment in full from the date it was issued. This means if the discounted payment is not received within 14 days from the date of issue, full payment will be expected within the next 14 days (from the date the discounted payment offer expires) or 28 days overall from the fate the ticket was issued.
The ticket must clearly outline the process of appeal including the following points
The formal process of appeal commences 28 days after the date the parking ticket is issued.
If the charge is not paid within this time (28 days from the date the ticket was issued) a Notice to Owner (NTO) will be sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle demanding payment in full or requesting a formal representation against the charge with the right to appeal to an independent adjudicator if the representation is turned down
That appeals (informal ones) will be entertained before the 28 days statutory period elapses (with the discounted rate still payable if the informal appeal is received within 14 days of the date the ticket was issued) triggering the generation of an NTO (Notice to Own
Vehicle make and colour
The enforcing officer should include these details on the ticket and while no colour or the wrong one will not necessarily invalidate the ticket it will undermine its credibility. However where the colour is open to subjective interpretation e.g. green and turquoise a ‘wrong’ colour in the PCN will have no bearing on its validity.
Detailed location of the vehicle (full street name)
This should be included on the ticket and it is difficult seeing how a parking ticket can be deemed valid if it includes a wrong location such as an incorrect street. It is also reasonable to expect a point of reference on the street to be included in the location such as Outside No 24, Opposite No 41 or outside KFC etc. Seeing that restrictions are location specific, for instance a yellow line might not extend along the entire stretch of a street or a suspension might only affect part of a residents bay, not including a street reference indicating the exact position of the vehicle might call into question the tickets credibility especially if the dispute centres around where the vehicle was parked.
Enforcement officer’s number
This should be included on all tickets. A parking ticket issued without the number of the enforcing officer will be unenforceable
Vehicles tax disc
This should be recorded and the Department of Transport guidelines advice the enforcement officer should give reasons if the tax disc details number and expiry date where not recorded.
Should be recorded where relevant, such as on a meter.