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Illegal parking covers a multitude of faults, and because there are many rules about roadside parking and off-road parking and bylaws and parking schemes, knowing what is and isn’t breaking the law is a challenge.
The absence of a ‘No Parking’ sign doesn’t mean you can park there. Bylaws may make parking illegal, and just because you don’t know about them doesn’t mean you’ll get off. The rules about parking meters vary from place to place, too.
Don’t park where you’ll cause an obstruction, such as in front of a fire station where fire engines will have problems exiting. Be careful not to break the rules about parking within the zigzag lines near pedestrian crossings. Be suspicious and read carefully any signs and notices you see. If you’re unsure, find an off-street car park where the parking regulations are clearly displayed.
Don’t park where it says ‘No Waiting’ unless it makes an exception for loading and unloading. (Loading and unloading don’t mean nipping into the local cafe or picking up your newspaper.)
If you get a parking ticket, you can pay the fixed penalty. As long as you pay the penalty within the given time, that’s all you pay, and there’s no offence or conviction. If you go over the allowed time and are fined in the Magistrates’ court, however, it counts as a criminal conviction, and the fine will be higher than the fixed penalty.
The registered keeper of the car may be sent the fixed-penalty notice. If you don’t own up to who was driving the car at the time, you’re liable to pay the fine even if you weren’t the driver.
Clamping is the motorist’s nightmare. Many local authorities do allow the clamping of cars parked illegally on the streets or allow them to be taken away to a car pound. In those cases, you have to pay to get your car unclamped or released from the pound. If you feel you were clamped or removed when you weren’t illegally parked, take your case to the local authority parking department. Often people complain that no notices warned that they couldn’t park where they did, or if the notice did exist, it was obscured at the time. Clampers have been accused of deliberately making notices difficult to spot so that they can make money from unsuspecting motorists.
Clamping on private property doesn’t come under road traffic law. It’s a service provided to the owner of the land by the clamping company, and it’s up to the owner buying the service to see that it’s carried out with reasonable skill and care. If you think you’ve been unfairly clamped on a private piece of land, take your case up with the clamping company. Talk to the Trading Standards Department at your local authority if you think clampers are breaking the law.