On a Screen Near You?

On a Screen Near You?

“You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said ‘Parking Fine.’”  Tommy Cooper

Many of us are familiar with that heart-sinking moment when, as we approach our parked car, we see a glaring yellow and black rectangular wallet plastered to the windscreen – the dreaded ‘parking ticket’.

We know that we are unlikely to make many friends by admitting that these are in fact printed Tenzalopes® document enclosed wallets and that yes, we probably do supply them to your local council.

Having got that off our corporate chest, we thought that you might be interested to know that (aside from the many names they are given informally by motorists) these actually have different names depending on what they are used for and who issues them.

Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)

This is the most common type of ticket, issued by local authorities. A PCN can be issued for various offences, including

  • Parking incorrectly (not in designated parking bays, on double yellow lines etc.)
  • Exceeding a limited parking period
  • Breaking some traffic rules such as entering a bus lane or contravening a road sign
  • Failing to pay charges for toll roads or bridges, congestion and low emission zones

A PCN is legally enforceable and failure to pay it can result in a civil action and court summons to pay the charge. A PCN may also be enforced by clamping a vehicle or removing it to a compound until the charge has been paid. However, discounts are sometimes offered for early settlement of a PCN and an appeal is sometimes successful.

Parking Charge Notice

Owners of private parking areas may issue Parking Charge Notices if vehicles are not parked in accordance with the rules applying to the use of the facility, including limitations on authorised users and parking periods.

While private land is largely monitored by parking attendants, the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems automates this and creates timed, photographic evidence to support the landowner in their claim against the motorist. If ANPR is used the notice will be posted to the vehicle owner rather than applied to the vehicle.

A Parking Charge Notice doesn’t have the same legal status as a Penalty Charge Notice – it is effectively no more than an invoice – and so cannot be backed up by a civil action. It can be contested if you believe the charge is exorbitant or disproportionate, or if there was inadequate signposting of parking restrictions. The landowner does however have a legal right to charge for and enforce parking and to involve the police in the enforcement of this right. They may also choose to enforce the charge by clamping or impounding the vehicle.

Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)

Although more commonly used for ‘moving traffic offences’ such as speeding, Fixed Penalty Notices can also be issued for illegal parking in areas controlled by police such as red routes, zig zags approaching pedestrian crossings or motorway hard shoulders. The scale of the charge is determined by the severity of the offence and can be endorsed (points are added to the driver’s licence) in some instances.