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Parking Fines

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Receiving a parking ticket is always frustrating. The NSW State Government has issued approximately $312 million in fines to drivers in the last 6 years. The possibility of receiving a parking fine has become much greater in recent years and that trend does not seem to be changing. Everyone you ask seems to have received at least one parking fine in their driving experience.

There is a wide range of parking offenses including:

* Parking in a no stopping zone.
* Parking in a no parking zone.
* Blocking a pathway.
* Parking in a clearway zone.
* Parking for longer then is prescribed.
* Parking within 10 meters of an intersection.
* Parking in a loading zone.
* The list goes on!

The Australian Road Rules stipulate most parking offenses and these rules can be viewed on the RTA website. It can be extremely difficult to overturn a parking fine however in some cases people have a legitimate reason why they were parked in an illegal area or in some cases people have been wrongly fined altogether.

As it is usually not commercially wise for you for a solicitor to appeal a parking fine as their fees can easily be more then the parking fine it self. For that reason I have put together a few FAQ's and tips on how to appeal a parking ticket successfully by yourself.

Question: I received a parking ticket in a private car park. Is this allowed?

Unfortunately it is possible to receive parking fines on private property, that is, land that isn't owned by the government or council. Owners of private properties can enter into agreements with councils and the council can issue fines on such areas. This is common in car parks, particularity shopping centre car parks. Always make sure you read the signs upon entering a car park and the signs inside the car park.

Question: I parked illegally, however someone is ALWAYS parked in the same spot and I have never seen them receive a fine. Can I have the parking ticket overturned for this reason?

The simple answer here is no. As frustrating as this can be, another person's illegal parking does not justify anyone else parking in the same manner.

Question: I pulled over to use my phone in a no stopping area and was fined. I thought I was doing the right thing by pulling over to use my phone. Is it legal for me to be fined?

Unless you can prove that you needed to answer your phone for an "emergency" (as stipulated in the Australian Road Rules) it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to use such an argument. Generally speaking you are not allowed to stop in a "no stopping zone" for any amount of time except in some exceptional circumstances. E.g. your car has broken down, you avoided a collision or you are feeling unwell to the point where you think it is unsafe to drive. Answering your telephone is not a legitimate reason to stop in a no stopping zone unless it was for an "emergency".

It is important to note that "no parking zones" are different to "no stopping zones". You are allowed to stop in no parking zones to drop off or pick up a passenger or goods for the amount of time specified on the sign. If no amount of time is specified then the time limit is 2 minutes. You are not allowed to leave the vehicle unattended in this time also.

Question: I want to appeal my parking ticket. What are some useful tips?

If you are appealing your parking ticket on compassionate grounds or exceptional circumstances, write a detailed letter to the local council who issued you with the fine and the Office of State Revenue. The letter should state exactly why you think it was reasonable for you to park in the area. Be as precise as possible. Basically you need to convince the local council that anyone else would have done the same in your situation and hopefully they will overturn their decision. This can be difficult. If they do not overturn their decision, you can possibly then take the matter to court for a magistrate to decide.

If you wish to appeal your parking ticket as you believe it may not have been legally issued, get as much evidence as you can. Take photos of your where your car is parked and the surrounding area. Also if there are any witnesses that have seen where your car is parked, get their names and numbers and if they allow you, have them sign a witness statement stating where and how your car was parked.

You should then prepare a letter to send to the Local Council that issued the fine and the Office of State Revenue. The letter should outline the reasons you wish for your parking ticket to be overturned and refer to your evidence. If they do not overturn their decision, you can possibly then take the matter to court for a magistrate to decide.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ELIZABETH LANE
Elizabeth Lane has many years experience working with the Traffic Lawyers Wollongong (www.primelaw.com.au/Publication-914-Traffic_Lawyers_Wollongong.aspx) Prime Lawyers Wollongong (www.primelaw.com.au/Wollongong.aspx).

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