How to get out of a parking fine

Fighting a parking fine may not be a lost cause – if you follow this advice.

parking fine

Most drivers have copped a parking fine at one time or another. Most of the time, you’ll just pay it and move on. But many parking fines are waived if you make a strong case.

It should be noted that it’s not worth the time to protest a parking fine unless you do the proper preparation. And sometimes, you just have to wear it. You’ll know if you’re in the wrong. However, if you’ve been unfairly fined, here’s how to try to avoid paying up.

The most common reasons for receiving a parking fine are:

  • parking without putting money in a meter, or running out of meter credit
  • overstaying your prescribed time
  • parking in residential or disabled parking areas without proper permits.

The most common defences for parking fines are:

  • faulty parking meters
  • parking advisory signs too difficult to see
  • errors made by the council parking officer.

According to consumer watchdog CHOICE, the appeals that commonly fail are:

  • I forgot to check the sign
  • my appointment ran over time
  • it was raining
  • I was in a hurry
  • I do not live in the area.

If you believe you've been unfairly hit with a parking fine, you can either pay the fine, appeal to the issuing council or contest the case in court.

Before appealing, weigh up the cost involved. Will you lose money from missing work? Will  transport costs outweigh the cost of paying the fine? Is it worth the hassle?

Gather as much evidence in your defence as possible. Having sufficient evidence increases the chance of winning an appeal. If you have enough, you may not even need to go to court. If you do need to go to court, you'll need the evidence anyway.

Such evidence includes taking a photo of your car where it is parked, as well as the closest signage in the area or a photo of the ticket machine you believe was faulty.

Here are some of the successful defences quoted by CHOICE members:

  • Penalty notice – Does the offence regulation code match its title? Does the make and registration number match your vehicle?
  • Parking signs – Are they visible from where you were parked or were they covered by a tree or any structures?
  • Road markings – Are the bay markings clear and visible?
  • Lack of parking signs/markings – Are there signs or markings that should be there for the offence you were booked for (such as a "no stopping" sign that wasn't there when you were fined for this offence)?
  • Parking meters – Was the parking meter faulty? Was there a number on the meter or sign nearby with a number you could call to report the faulty meter?
  • Parking tickets – Do you have your original tickets to show you did not stay too long in the space or that you did pay to park?
  • Medical emergency or vehicle breakdown – Do you have evidence or witnesses to verify that circumstances caused you to commit the parking offence?

Most states allow 28 days to appeal, so get moving. Most councils  have an online appeals process, but you may have to do the old snail mail thing instead. Either way, appeals can take months to process, but the sooner you get it done, the sooner you can rest and wait for the process to play out.

And once you appeal, you’ll no longer incur additional penalties for non-payment.

If you must go to court, you'll have to provide your supporting evidence to convince the magistrate the fine was unfairly or mistakenly issued. Presented with convincing evidence, the court will most likely waive your fine. However, if you lose, you may have to pay the fine and court costs, so make sure the case is good.

If you receive a fine from a private car park and you’re not convinced it’s fair, your first call should be to the consumer agency in your state.

Read more at CHOICE

Have you successfully appealed a parking fine? What was your tactic? Will you share it with our members?



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    15th Aug 2017
    All of the above is well and good but the most important way to avoid a parking fine has been omitted and that is to obey the rules.
    Coachman on the box
    15th Aug 2017
    Oh god, here we go again. Obey the rules, obey the rules. Just like the people did in nazi Germany, eh, OLD MAN. That's the problem with bloody Australia, too many petty tyrants making too many bloody rules and too many bloody idiots too willing to comply. OLD MAN the rules are not necessarily there for any other reason than to pick your bloody pockets. GO AWAY with 'obey the rules'.
    Happy cyclist
    15th Aug 2017
    Yes, thats right Coachman, lets all just park whever it suits us with no thought as to how much we are inconveniencing other people. Lets just do whatever suits us, whenever it suits us and see what happens. Rules are made to try to keep selfish individuals from behaving badly so everyone can exist in the best possible way. I just bet you drive one of those monster 4-wheel drives with a snorkel on it.
    15th Aug 2017
    I agree with you Old Man and Happy cyclist.
    I’ve only had one fine in over 40 years of driving (which was withdrawn due to poor signage) because I’m prepared to walk a block or more to get a free park.
    I’m also a happy cyclist. I can park my bike right in front of the place I’m going to.
    BTW, I have a 4WD which I use to carry 4 bikes in the tub and 3 on the tow bar when our friends want to cycle places that are a long distance away.
    15th Aug 2017
    Agreed Old Man however have you noticed that Councils are extending the no parking areas around significant venues so unless you have two adults in the car to drop off and mind children and the less mobile it becomes extraordinarily difficult to manage.
    I have watched councils "clean up" on sports carnival days, the Wiggles concert etc because parents simply can't find a park within at least 1 km of the venue.
    It is nothing short of nasty on the council's part.
    15th Aug 2017
    Best way to avoid a parking fine is to - Obey the law. Simple isn't it. Telling people how to avoid a legally issued infringement is in itself breaking the law.
    20th Aug 2017
    i don't believe that is correct dougie, cause it seems that some councils will try and get away with your money given half the chance, and you would be the fool to give it to them lol. sheez

    As where i live, the place i parked was where there was building going on, it had a bus top and further on it was loaded with cars parked everywhere, when i got back to my car i got a ticket, NObody else had one?
    there no NO signage anyway, and on the ticket it said i should not park on the lawn. What lawn, it was a paddock. so i took pictures and made a written complaint, plus i had a disability sticker on car. NO notice was taken of that, so it was a struggle just to get out of there and get my car out as well and then they had the cheek to try and hit me up for it. NO way hose' and i won. What a load of rubbish. NO standing on the lawn, when half the residents around me Park on the lawn and nobody there gets a ticket. What a load of codswallop lol.
    20th Aug 2017
    dougie, "Telling people how to avoid a legally issued infringement is in itself breaking the law." Really? Even when we are questioning whether it's legally issued?

    This is how the Hitlers of the world gain and hold power, by people being too afraid to question the tyrant's so-called authority.
    15th Aug 2017
    I’ve only had one fine in over 40 years of driving. I contested that one and it was withdrawn as the signage was unclear.
    I rarely pay parking fees as I’m prepared to walk a block or more to get a free park.
    15th Aug 2017
    If people keep flaunting the Disabled Parking Laws there will never be spaces for those who have genuine needs for them.
    15th Aug 2017
    In Adelaide they chalk the tyres and take photos if they book you. What happens if you move your car and the chalk shows when the insepctor comes along past where you are now parked. I'd like to know if they record where the cars are parked when they chalk the tyres. Pretty sure they don't. They should mark the tread not the side walls of tyres.
    15th Aug 2017
    I have never had a parking fine because I don't park where I shouldn't. Its really not that hard!
    ray @ Bondi
    15th Aug 2017
    I live in Bondi and another issue related is the removal of parking by councils, I have noticed all the signs are marching away from the street corners most streets with signage now are about 1.5 cars from the corner, some places have 3 to 4 spaces that are nothing more than revenue zones, this forces people to take chances parking. I invite those living in areas that are heavily controlled areas like Bondi to look and question just why is there so much space removed from parking, I have also noticed where concrete structures have been put on the street there can be a car space between that and parking for no obvious reason. some will think that this is silly but parking is a real issue and for some reason, there seems to be a policy of slowly reducing it.
    Nan Norma
    15th Aug 2017
    I was in England some years back. As anyone that has lived there will know older houses were built before the need for a car space. Thinking of here, it made me smile to see the buses weaving between the cars parked on the streets. They seemed to have a very different attitude there regarding parking.
    Nan Norma
    15th Aug 2017
    Sorry but there are times when you honestly park in a no parking without realizing it.
    I recently received a parking ticket ($73, which I think is ridiculous) I had forgotten to display my parking permit. I wrote and explained and the ticket was waivered.
    There are times when tickets are unjust and it has become a complete money making racket in some instances.
    15th Aug 2017
    There was a 20 minute parking zone outside a hospital in Strathfield. The carer needs to park and collect the patient. That means cross the road, go up the slow lifts, collect the patient, sign out and be back in the 20 minutes.
    This took more than 20 minutes so my daughter ran back to the car at the 15 minute mark. Sure enough, the parking inspector was set to fine three cars in a row. Like sitting ducks he knew when it was the time when people had to collect their loved ones from the hospital.
    The absolute look of annoyance on the inspectors face when my daughter raced over to the car and moved 5 minutes before the 20 minute were up.
    How far did I have to walk in the end? - about 1 kilometre and my daughter carried my bags and a crying baby in her arms to boot. All because the Strathfield council were revenue raising - outside a hospital!
    15th Aug 2017
    Nan Norma, you wouldn't have thought a $73 fine was ridiculous if it had been given to someone who didn't have a permit at all.
    Nan Norma
    15th Aug 2017
    Bebby, Parking is free anywhere at the Gold Coast Qld if you display a disability permit. I forgot to display my permit and I was fined because I had not paid. When I sent in a copy of my permit and my fine the council waivered it. So I still think $73 is a bit rich for anyone especially as I was parked outside a seniors club.
    15th Aug 2017
    A significant omission of this article is the concept of a " modified penalty". I am very familiar with the situation in Western Australia. I suspect it would be the same in at least some of the other States, if not all.
    When a local government issues an infringement, this represents a " modified penalty". A modified penalty means a penalty which is 10% of the penalty which the court has the power to impose. As an example, if the infringement ( eg a parking ticket for overstaying the time on a meter) is for $100, the court ( if you elect to have the matter dealt with by a court) can impose a fine of $1000. In addition ( as the article said) the court can impose costs against an unsuccessful appellant - these could easily be substantial.
    The system is intended, obviously, to discourage drivers from having the matter heard in a court.
    Bottom line : I would only go to court if I believed I had a very good case.
    15th Aug 2017
    I've never heard of a " modified penalty", Stu. I can see how it would prevent spurious claims from wasting time and clogging up the courts, which is a good thing. But, it might also have the effect of bullying people into not complaining about unjust penalties and fines. Glad it's not in NSW.
    15th Aug 2017
    I've never lost a single demerit point in 40 years of driving but I have dodged 3 penalties - 2 for parking and one for driving in a "T2" zone (for two or more people in the vehicle, I found out later).
    I wrote letters in each instance and paid no fine. I did receive a warning for the T2 incident, even though I'm from the country and had never seen a "T2" sign before.
    ray @ Bondi
    15th Aug 2017
    people from the country have it easy, a person there can go a lifetime and not be booked, in the cities there are cameras on every second set of traffic lights and rangers patrol the streets with gusto for people who dare to park where our masters deem unlawful, although those revenue zones grow each year and parking shrinks.
    16th Aug 2017
    Yes, Ray, I drive to Sydney regularly to visit my sisters in Coogee and Bronte - it's a nightmare to park. Luckily I can park in their driveways until there's an "opening" available.

    There are platoons of "speeding" police in the country though, ready to catch us at the bottom of the hill, exceeding 50kph through a golf course in a seemingly unbuilt-up area where there are no houses. My husband has been done there - oh it's paydirt for Govt coffers! Daylight robbery!
    Ugly Truth
    15th Aug 2017
    I recently went to Melbourne magistrates Court to defend myself against an unjust parking fine .There was a bush covering the sign so it could not be seen . I took photos to prove this . The prosecution also provided photos from the company been paid to attack the public also showing the sign was not visible. Due to the on-going criminal activity around perverting the course of justice via traffic fines for financial gain I was found guilty .The excuse used by the person perpetrating as a magistrate was that a Supreme court Justice in NSW found that in a moving violation if the sign could not be seen or was missing it must be found that it was there and was visible ."very third world or banana republic type finding" I believe that this was a complete fabrication and a deliberate misrepresentation .It could of course be appealed to the Supreme Court but I am aware that due to the lack of education and professional standards of our Justices any outcome could result costing tens of thousands of dollars . There is no Privy Council (Australian Judges despite the constitution deny it exists ) to control these Whitlam's Warriors. It is common knowledge that traffic courts are the Siberia (punishment for poor performance or other misdeeds) for magistrates. These magistrates evidently are not permitted to find any traffic offence not guilty. The only decency they are permitted is in certain circumstances is to take a guilty plea and give zero fine with a good behaviour period . Further to pervert the course of justice a $90 fine suddenly becomes $400 so as to criminally coerce and extort victims from defending themselves . Who said convict criminality was not genetic.
    I was warned in England that if one travels abroad there are two things to avoid if possible . If in Africa don't get a blood transfusion and if in Australia don't go to court. Both for the same reason ,"You never know what you will get"
    ray @ Bondi
    15th Aug 2017
    here here, agree completely, judges are not unbiased, who employs them and keeps them employed. That is how governments say that independent people support their Orwellian decisions, they put the people there in the first place.
    15th Aug 2017
    In the days when parking infringement notices were stuck to the windscreen, a mate of mine regularly avoided parking fines when going to the footy by driving around till he found a car which had been booked. He would remove the slip and attach it to his own car when he parked in an illegal but very handy spot near to the footy ground.
    Nan Norma
    15th Aug 2017
    Governments and councils make laws but it doesn't mean those laws are always just and fair.
    Hitler made laws too.
    ray @ Bondi
    16th Aug 2017
    here here, did you read Orwell's 1984, a prophet if I have known one.

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