Receiving a parking fine can be incredibly frustrating, particularly when it seems some local councils are more intent on using them as a revenue raising exercise, rather than maintaining a public amenity that should be freely available to all ratepayers.
But it’s important to be aware that simply being issued with a ticket doesn’t translate into having to pay it with your hard-earned money.
Rather, there are ways to request a review, dispute and challenge a parking fine, which can result in the fine being withdrawn or even thrown out of court.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is a parking fine?
A parking fine is a financial penalty you have to pay to local councils for violating local bylaws relating to parking in designated areas.
Most people receive a parking fine by receiving a penalty notice on their windscreen issued by local parking inspectors.
It’s important to be sure you are paying an actual fine and not a private notice to pay, sometimes referred to as a ‘private fine’, which private business sometimes try to impose for trespasses such as parking without authorisation in a privately owed car park.
Private fines are not really fines at all, but are a private dispute between yourself and an organisation. In some circumstances, you may not even be obliged to pay for a ‘private fine’.
Procedure for challenging a parking fine
If you believe there has been a mistake in issuing you a parking fine or there are other reasons that contributed to the offence that need to be considered, you can request a review.
If you disagree with the findings of the review, you can elect to take the matter to court, in which case you will be given an initial court date during which you can either seek to have your case listed for a defended hearing, or enter a guilty plea and request leniency such as a section 10 dismissal.
However, you should be aware that the maximum penalties applicable in court may be a lot higher than the fine you were issued, and you may even be liable for the other side’s costs if you lose.
How to get off a parking fine in NSW
There are a number of ways that you can challenge a parking fine. Generally you would challenge the offence on the basis that either you did not in fact violate parking rules or that there are special circumstances we mean that you should not be fined.
Common defence arguments include that:
- Someone else was driving the car at the time of the parking violation.
- The parking meter was faulty.
- The time-restriction signpost outlining hours for parking was illegible or difficult to see.
- The local parking inspector issued the fine in error.
- The ticket issued is invalid, due to an error in date, time, location or vehicle registration.
- An emergency justified the violation, including a medical emergency or your car breaking down.
- Leniency should apply due to your personal circumstances, this could include physical and/or mental illness, homelessness or financial hardship.
- The you exceeding the prescribed time limit for parking by less than 10 minutes.
You will not be able to challenge a parking merely because of a moral or political belief that the fine is unfair or that you don’t agree with how the local council approaches parking.
For most of the above defence you will need to gather some evidence to support your case, this may include a letter from your doctor (for cases of medical emergencies) or mechanic (for vehicle breakdowns), as well as contemporaneous photos at the scene to prove arguments bout signage or fault parking meters.
An experienced criminal lawyer can assist you in gathering relevant evidence to put your best case forward.
Formal defences which may apply
Along with the statutory exceptions outlined above, a person may be able to challenge the offence in the basis of a formal defence under law.
Arrangements for financial hardship
If you do not wish to challenge the fine you’ve received but will struggle to pay the fine amount in time due to financial hardship, you can make a formal require to pay off the fine in instalments.
You may be able to pay by instalments if you:
- Receive a government benefit;
- Can pay the full amount within three months;
- Need longer than three months to pay;
- Are already paying off other fines.
It’s important to request to pay in instalments as soon as possible to avoid extra fees.
Going to court over a traffic offence?
If you are you going to court to contest a traffic offence, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers anytime on 9261 8881 to arrange a free first conference during which one of our experienced defence lawyers will assess the case, advise you of your options and the best way forward, and fight for the optimal outcome.