Can I be fined if a parking machine is broken?


You have arrived at the car park to do your shopping - but the parking ticket machine is broken - what next? Motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden investigates what you should do now: can you park for free or are you risking a hefty fine?

While you may unable to make payment through no fault of your own, the car park owner can still issue a fine – but you may be able to appeal and get it cancelled. Here’s what you need to know.

Car issued with a ticketDo drivers have to pay a fine if the ticket machine is broken? (Credit: Caspar Rae/Unsplash)

Can I appeal a parking fine if the ticket machine was broken?

Yes. You can but you are unlikely to be successful if there was an alternative way to pay for the ticket.

You must ensure there are no other machines working in the car park, or a phone number to call to settle the fee.

If there were alternative ways to make payment, such as another operational machine, you will likely lose.

How can I prove that I could not pay for a ticket?

A good idea would be to take a photograph of all the broken machines in the car park – and even better if the display etc. shows the paypoint is not operational.

You can keep these photos for any subsequent appeal.

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Will I be successful?

The main thing to remember, is if you genuinely could not get a ticket then you are likely to succeed.

An investigation by The Sun found that more than 50% of appeals were successful – including against private firms and local authority-issued fines.

Look out for signs saying 'do not park if ticket machine is broken'

If these are in place and clearly visible, you will not have any grounds for appealing the fine.

However, if they are small and hidden away in terms and conditions on a sign, you may still have good grounds to challenge the penalty.

How can I appeal against a parking fine given in this way?

If you decide that you are confident you have been incorrectly fined, you should do the following:

  • Do not pay the fine ahead of any appeal.
  • Ensure you are aware of how long you have to challenge the ticked – otherwise you could end up paying more.
  • Follow advice on the penalty on how to make the initial appeal – you should include copies of your photographs showing the broken machine or other reasons you could not pay.
  • If the appeal is rejected, you may be able to take the appeal further by contacting the Parking Adjudicator if it was issued by a local authority. You can find out more here.

If all appeals fail – you should settle as soon as possible to cut the amount you will be fined – or the amount could increase.

What about private parking fines?

If you have a fine for leaving your car in a private setting where you could not make payment, make sure the firm is legit by seeing if it is registered British Parking Association (BPA) or the Independent Parking Community (IPC).

You can search these associations, and if the firm is not registered it will not be able to get your address from the DVLA, so won’t be able to chase you for payment.

If they do contact you, report them to the DVLA as the unregistered firm should not be able to get your details and could be breaking the law.

If they are not registered, you may decide not to settle as it is unlikely the firm can trace you.


Take a look at more of our top motoring-related content here...

Where am I most likely to get a parking fine from local authorities?

A survey carried out by parking ticket printer firm Able Solutions, revealed the cities where Brits are most likely to receive a parking penalty. 

Edinburgh and Glasgow top the list, with the former issuing fines totalling more than £11million. Birmingham ranked as the worst city in England (this because London was ranked by individual boroughs and not as a whole), with the city's wardens dishing out nearly 146,000 penalties. 

However, drivers heading to Brighton should certainly look at where they park, as despite a population of just 200,000 - tiny compared to the 1.1million in Birmingham - the local wardens issued more than 122,000 tickets. 

When it comes to London, Islington and Westminster topped the league for fines issues in the capital's boroughs.

Most parking penalties issued in UK (London excluded as broken down by borough)

  1. Edinburgh
  2. Glasgow
  3. Birmingham
  4. Brighton
  5. Liverpool
  6. Bristol
  7. Leeds
  8. Southampton
  9. Newcastle
  10. Leicester

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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