This is a special free emergency glovebox guide to help at the dreaded moment when you find an unfair parking ticket on your windscreen, or worse, your car's clamped or towed.
The emergency A4 print-out is designed to sit in your car ready for action when the worst happens. It's full of tips on what to do at the scene and how to avoid tickets in the first place.
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Getting a ticket is one of the most frustrating parts of driving. Whether you're clamped, ticketed or towed, stay calm and follow the tips in the Glove Box Parking Guide.
If you've got a ticket...
Check if it's a public or private ticket
A Penalty Charge Notice or Excess Charge Notice from a council or Transport for London, or a police Fixed Penalty Notice is official – don't ignore it. See more about public parking tickets in the Parking Ticket Appeals guide.
On private land (eg, a supermarket) tickets may look official and use similar initials. But they're NOT fines, just invoices and they're not always enforceable. For now, follow the same procedures but check for more info in the Private Parking Tickets guide.
Immediately gather evidence if it's unfair
If you've a cameraphone, take pics of unclear signs/markings (or their absence) and/or the area around your car. If there are witnesses, ask for a statement or their contact details to support you.
If you've been clamped...
Ask for ID. If the clamper's telling you they have 'legal authority' to clamp your vehicle ask to see their ID. You can also call the authority they're working for to check it’s valid.
In Northern Ireland clampers must have a 16-digit Security Industry Authority licence number. Check if their number's legit on the SIA website or call 0151 243 3701.
In either case, if you're still not sure, or can't get hold of anyone, call the police.
Check time. Councils usually wait 30 minutes after a ticket before clamping.
If unfair, get evidence. See the evidence-gathering help above.
Act fast. Ignore a clamp and your motor can be towed in hours, meaning hugely increased fees.
Pay under protest. If forced to pay to release your vehicle, and you think it's unfair, write on the ticket that you've 'paid under protest'. It means you don't accept liability, so you can fight back.
If your car's missing...
If your car's gone, you won't have access to your glovebox, so read this in advance.
Towed or stolen? In London, call the 24-hour Trace service (0845 206 8 602) to check. Elsewhere, the police. On private land, contact the car park owner.
If unfair, get evidence. See the evidence gathering help above.
Can't afford release fee? The only option is to negotiate with the car pound or landowner. Technically, there is no leeway and your car will eventually be crushed (and you may still be liable for the charges) yet some officials may help.
Can I park there?
Parking tickets can take months to reverse, so to avoid them, park right! The basic rule's always check the road signs, although some differences apply to Blue Badge holders, motorcycles and electric cars. Some general guidelines included in the Glove Box Parking Guide are:
When can I park on a...
Single yellow line? Parking's usually banned during work hours, but check signs. If no specific signage, the best bet's to assume it's the same as pay & display or residents' restrictions. See the loading exceptions below.
Double yellow? No parking at any time. See the loading exceptions below.
Red line? Single line means no stopping at given times. Double means NEVER.
Residents' bays? Non-permit holders can only park outside signposted hours. Everyone can be ticketed when a bay's suspended.
Where there are no markings? In rural or suburban areas, you can usually park.
When can I load or unload?
On yellow lines you sometimes have 20 minutes grace when continuously loading heavy/bulky goods or to pick-up/drop off passengers, if not blocking traffic. But watch for kerb blips (pictured) which indicate you can't.
On a red line, you cannot load during controlled hours.
Most common parking mistakes
"I was going to get change for the meter" - this is not a permitted excuse.
"It's displayed, there are just others there" - tickets must be clear. 20 tickets on a dashboard is not clear.
"The meter was broken" - you still can't park during restricted hours.
"It's only one wheel out of the bay" - that could still get you fined.
"I can park on the pavement" - that's banned, unless specified.
"Parking's free on bank holidays" - not always true, council rules vary.
"If I pay straight after getting a ticket they'll let me off" - sadly not.
"There was no yellow line, it's a bus stop" - don't block entrances, bays, traffic, dropped kerbs, bus stops or taxi ranks.
See the How to Park Right guide for more parking tips, including pictures of all lines and signs.
While every effort's been made to ensure accuracy this doesn't constitute legal advice. If you act on it, you acknowledge you do so at your own risk. We can't assume responsibility and don't accept liability for any damage or loss which may arise.