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Parking Fine or Penalty Charge Notice?

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Parking penalty charges/Penalty Charge Notice

Parking tickets issued by the local council are different to criminal fines, and are often called ‘penalty charge notices (PCNs)’.

The council enforce the tickets through the Traffic Enforcement Centre in Northampton. Special rules apply to this type of parking ticket.

Fixed parking penalties are issued by the police and the rules are different. Contact us if you are not sure which type of parking penalty you have.

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What is a parking penalty charge?

Most councils have the power to enforce parking penalties under the Traffic Management Act 2004. These parking penalties are not treated as criminal offences. They are often known as a ‘parking penalty charge’ or a 'penalty charge notice’ (PCN). You cannot be sent to prison for not paying a parking penalty.

Typically your council will have its own traffic wardens (called civil enforcement officers) who issue penalty charge notices, for example, for parking on double yellow lines, in a permit only zone, on zigzag lines or in parking meter zones.

There are also other types of traffic penalty such as the London congestion charge, penalties for vehicle emissions and penalties for bus lane offences. The procedure for dealing with these types of penalties is slightly different. If you have one of these penalties, contact us for advice.

Who is responsible for paying the charge?

The ‘registered keeper’ of the car is the person or organisation recorded at the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) as being the keeper of the vehicle. This may be a different person to the ‘owner’ of the car. Although the owner of the car is legally responsible for the penalty charge, the council will normally assume that the owner is also the registered keeper.

This means that if you are the registered keeper, the council will assume you are responsible for the penalty. If you are not also the owner, you should not be responsible for the penalty but you will need to prove this to the council.

If you are the owner and the registered keeper, then you will normally be responsible for the penalty even if you were not driving at the time. There are some situations in which this may not be the case. Contact us for advice.

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