Document Everything – Your First Line of Defense
As soon as you receive a ticket, document the details. Taking photographs is recommended, but if it is not possible, record as much information as possible. Where are you parked, exactly? If a meter is involved, what is on the display? Are there any signs posted, that you can see? What time of day is it? Is it a holiday? I’ve always found that being prepared with details helps me get out of many undesirable situations. Many people are caught off guard when you are very prepared, and that often works to your advantage. If you are reading this from home, all is not lost. Hop back in your vehicle, revisit the scene and take some pictures or notes. If that is not possible, run through it in your mind, and write down as much information as you can remember.
Investigate before paying
If you received a ticket on private property, you may be able to avoid paying – especially if the fine is excessive. Private companies often have unregulated and unjustly expensive fines. Only about a third of these entities are regulated by the British Parking Association, and many take advantage of this. Without knowing the specifics of your case, it is hard to say how aggressive they will be in getting you to pay. But, many people have had success in fighting, or simply ignoring, the fines. It is often advised that your first course of action is no response, at all. As you decide how to handle the ticket, make sure to jot down some notes or take photographs – in case you need to prove your case in the future.
Civic or Criminal Tickets
If you received a ticket from a governmental agent, you can still appeal the fine. Ignoring it would be a mistake, however. You’ve nothing to lose from a civil appeal, and any early pay benefits you may receive usually still apply after a judgment is made (see the next section for more information). The guidelines for appeal should be easy to find. If the ticket is criminal in nature, you’ll want to seek information detailing the appeals process. This may vary by region, so be thorough in information gathering.
Pay early and save
Often, there is a discount for paying a fine quickly. If you know you were in the wrong, and decide to just pay, you may be able to save half- off by paying within the first 2 weeks after the ticket was received. Even if you decide to dispute the fine, you may still be able to receive the “pay early discount” if a judgment is eventually made against you. In these instances, communication is key. Make some calls, ask questions, and be sure to document the answers you receive along with names of people that you spoke to.
Be diligent in collecting evidence to support your case, and be aware of your rights. Call around and inquire. Make sure to document all contact you have with the issuing agency, and don’t forget to ask names. I often find that asking someone’s name instantly makes them feel more accountable. And, last but not least – relax. If you feel that you’ve been fined unfairly, gather your evidence and appeal the fine. Your changes of winning are increased by the details you gather. If you know you were in the wrong, consider taking advantage of any “early pay discounts” that may exist, and just be done with it. After all, life is short and some things are more important than others.