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View Full Version : Private Parking Fines & Unfair Traffic Offences



David Guyatt
12-06-2008, 10:07 AM
Thousands of people are daily ticketed and fined for parking and traffic offences. It is impossible to estimate what proportion of these are truly fair and justified, and little or no attempt is made by local authorities, police or the private sector to establish innocence or guilt. On the contrary guilt is assumed, thus reversing the "Presumption of Innocence" convention that is enshrined in law. I say this because the "appeals" procedure is largely operated by the same authority/private entity that issued the fine/ticket, and because it is in their financial interest to reject an appeal.

Also, it is common practice now for those issuing a fine/ticket to rapidly pass on those who default to a private "Debt Recovery Agent" who automatically add on their own charges to the amount fined -- and often these additional charges are outrageously high. A fine of 70.00 can quickly become several hundred. It is hard not to compare this practice with the old criminal strong-arm tactic of extortion (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extortion for a definition).

For these and many other reasons besides, people receiving a fine may consider undertaking a bit of research in order to establish their position and to fight unjust fines that has been arbitrarily levied. If you do, you will be joining a growing band of citizens who fight their corner rather than collapse in fear and simply pay up under threat.

The fact is that our government, authorities and institutions no longer can be trusted to represent our interests. On the contrary, over the last few decades they have modified and changed long established laws that once protected us from such abuses, and which instead now benefit the government-corporate complex payola machine.

Further important information can be found on the following websites:

The Consumer Forum (http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/parking-traffic-offences/65341-private-parking-companies-charges.html)

Money Saving Expert (http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/parking-ticket-appeals)

Peter Lemkin
12-06-2008, 10:44 AM
Thousands of people are daily ticketed and fined for parking and traffic offences. It is impossible to estimate what proportion of these are truly fair and justified, and little or no attempt is made by local authorities, police or the private sector to establish innocence or guilt. On the contrary guilt is assumed, thus reversing the "Presumption of Innocence" convention that is enshrined in law. I say this because the "appeals" procedure is largely operated by the same authority/private entity that issued the fine/ticket, and because it is in their financial interest to reject an appeal.

Also, it is common practice now for those issuing a fine/ticket to rapidly pass on those who default to a private "Debt Recovery Agent" who automatically add on their own charges to the amount fined -- and often these additional charges are outrageously high. A fine of 70.00 can quickly become several hundred. It is hard not to compare this practice with the old criminal strong-arm tactic of extortion (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extortion for a definition).

For these and many other reasons besides, people receiving a fine may consider undertaking a bit of research in order to establish their position and to fight unjust fines that has been arbitrarily levied. If you do, you will be joining a growing band of citizens who fight their corner rather than collapse in fear and simply pay up under threat.

The fact is that our government, authorities and institutions no longer can be trusted to represent our interests. On the contrary, over the last few decades they have modified and changed long established laws that once protected us from such abuses, and which instead now benefit the government-corporate complex payola machine.

Further important information can be found on the following websites:

The Consumer Forum (http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/parking-traffic-offences/65341-private-parking-companies-charges.html)

Money Saving Expert (http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/parking-ticket-appeals)

I always thought that along with only really serious offenses of real overparking, that it should be some proportional amount to your earnings....so the rich pay MUCH more per hour overparked and someone poor very little...... but given the system, in fact it works out the other way around. Once I lost a very important court action because I was too poor to keep feeding the meters at the Court and Law Library in the center of a big city, over an extended period. The fines were building-up to where my car would be towed and I had to abandon my own legal defense, to a large extent.

David Guyatt
12-08-2008, 11:16 AM
I want to add a little more on private parking. It is standard practise for private parking companies like supermarkets (but many others besides) to issue parking fine notifications that are designed to mimic official police or council parking fine notices and so create fear. Parking fine notifications issued by private entities have very little clout in reality, as they are subject to "contract law". Whilst they may send your a parking fine notification bearing a poor digital copy of your car parked in contravention of their rules, this is far from enough. They must be able to prove in court who was driving the vehicle. The onus is on them to prove this and not on you to provide them with any ammunition. You are not obliged to admit you were driving if you were. You are not obliged to tell them who else might have been driving the vehicle. You are not obliged to tell them a damn thing in fact.

And while the usual fear-mongering tactic is to threaten to pass the fine on to a Debt Collection Agent if you do not pay, the debt collection agent have very little power other than bluster. If they threaten court action, tell them you'll be pleased to defend yourself in court (they cannot get a court order without you being given the opportunity to be present a defence) - and if they go ahead with curt action (which would be simply unbelievable imo) they would need to prove who was the driver of the vehicle.

The general rule is to challenge the private company issuing a private parking notification telling them that you do not intend yo pay and if they pass on the fine to a debt collection agency, to tell that entity that you are in dispute with their client and they they should refer the matter back to them. Thereafter, tell the the private parking company in a letter that you will give them (say) 14 days to provide proof of who the vehicle driver was or you will consider the matter closed.

But for all sorts of template letters on the foregoing and far better legal insights, see the two links I provided in the foregoing post.

Mark Stapleton
12-08-2008, 02:55 PM
I always thought that along with only really serious offenses of real overparking, that it should be some proportional amount to your earnings....so the rich pay MUCH more per hour overparked and someone poor very little...... but given the system, in fact it works out the other way around. Once I lost a very important court action because I was too poor to keep feeding the meters at the Court and Law Library in the center of a big city, over an extended period. The fines were building-up to where my car would be towed and I had to abandon my own legal defense, to a large extent.

That's an excellent point, Peter.

The current system of identical fines harshly discriminates against the poor. The standard no parking zone fine in Sydney is about $135, which is a painful penalty for a low income earner but a mere mosquito bite for a millionaire. Hence the penalty is much greater for the poor person, despite the fact the amounts are identical.

Macquarie Street is probably the most salubrious street in the Sydney CBD, with many millionaire stockbrokers, lawyers and specialist doctors. If you walk down this street, you'll see many Porsches, Rollers and other luxury cars and they often have the telltale orange envelope under the windscreen wiper. They obviously don't care about the fines, it's chump change to them---they need the parking spot.

I favor the system used in some Scandanavian countries (I think Sweden and Finland), whereby the fine is commensurate to the wealth of the offender, using net taxable income as the yardstick.

Interestingly, the original parking cops in Australia were disabled or handicapped war veterans, who had trouble getting work. The Government knew they would also be less likely to be the target of verbal or physical abuse, due to their circumstances. However, Governments here and elsewhere eventually saw the potential in the rich income stream these fines could provide and now, as we all know, it's become an industry unto itself.

It's morphed into a cruel system of state sponsored theft. Once again the poor find themselves at the butt end.

Peter Lemkin
12-08-2008, 05:29 PM
That's an excellent point, Peter.

The current system of identical fines harshly discriminates against the poor. The standard no parking zone fine in Sydney is about $135, which is a painful penalty for a low income earner but a mere mosquito bite for a millionaire. Hence the penalty is much greater for the poor person, despite the fact the amounts are identical.

Macquarie Street is probably the most salubrious street in the Sydney CBD, with many millionaire stockbrokers, lawyers and specialist doctors. If you walk down this street, you'll see many Porsches, Rollers and other luxury cars and they often have the telltale orange envelope under the windscreen wiper. They obviously don't care about the fines, it's chump change to them---they need the parking spot.

I favor the system used in some Scandanavian countries (I think Sweden and Finland), whereby the fine is commensurate to the wealth of the offender, using net taxable income as the yardstick.

Interestingly, the original parking cops in Australia were disabled or handicapped war veterans, who had trouble getting work. The Government knew they would also be less likely to be the target of verbal or physical abuse, due to their circumstances. However, Governments here and elsewhere eventually saw the potential in the rich income stream these fines could provide and now, as we all know, it's become an industry unto itself.

It's morphed into a cruel system of state sponsored theft. Once again the poor find themselves at the butt end.

I believe it is Finland that uses that system of proportional fines, depending upon your taxable income. Makes sense to me. Yeah, we've all seen the rich-guy with his expensive car parked intentionally without paying the meter - and he doesn't care...while you and I could loose our only means of transport in the blink of an eye. Where I live in Europe, the police do very little OTHER than issue parking fines - as the city gets lots of money and there is no risk to them...unlike real crime - which they are the first to avoid confronting. And you are right, the whole system - from parking fines, library fines, taxes to whatever are in favor of the rich and against the poor - thats almost the definition of capitalism....another failed system....may we see it dead and buried in our lifetime.

Dawn Meredith
12-12-2008, 01:42 PM
In Austin, near the courthouse you used to be able to park all day for $2.00. Then all that space was bought for state workers and the like leaving only parking meters. You pay the meter for 2 hours. If you need to be at court longer than two hours you must find another meter because the meter jerks put a mark on your car tire. If you attempt to put more $ in the same box after the two hours has elapsed you get a $30.00 ticket, which then doubles if not timely paid.
Dawn