Don't just cop unfair or mistaken traffic fines
Motorists who believe they have been mistakenly or unfairly hit with a parking fine have three options.
CHOICE has found motorists who appeal against what they see as unfair or incorrect parking and speeding fines do get results — with between almost a half and quarter of such cases in NSW and Victoria being successful.
The consumer group has used Freedom of Information laws (FOI) to find 30% of the 81,236 parking fine appeals received by the NSW Treasury’s Office of State Revenue (OSR) were granted, avoiding fines amounting to $3.2 million.
In Victoria while just 10% of the 1.6 million parking fines were contested between July 2007 and June last year, 45% of those were successfully appealed.
Common defences include faulty parking meters, an hour-restricted signpost that was difficult to see or simply blatant errors made by the council parking officer in issuing the ticket.
One council told CHOICE that appeals that don’t demonstrate exceptional circumstances include "I forgot to check the sign," "my appointment ran over time", "it was raining", "I was in a hurry" or "I do not live in the area".
Motorists who believe they have been mistakenly or unfairly hit with a parking fine have three options: pay up anyway, appeal to the council whose parking warden issued the fine, or contest the case in court. Some councils allow parking ticket appeals to be made online, so check your local council’s website for details.
With speed camera fines there is scope for a caution. Drivers can appeal to the police or road authority for the penalty to be withdrawn or choose to contest their case in court. But it depends on their driving record, how fast they were going and other circumstances, which differ from state to state.
“CHOICE in no way condones speeding or illegal parking but there inevitably cases in which an automatic fine or conviction without reviewing the full circumstances may be patently unfair,” said CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn.
“There are systems of appeal and, as with any other dispute resolution system, it pays for consumers to understand them and how they work.”
The consumer group says there are companies that claim to help you get off your parking or speeding fines, typically found selling books and documents on the internet.
“Before engaging their services find out specifically what they claim to offer and make sure you can’t do better yourself,” said Zinn.