02.Before you appeal
Before appealing, you should gather as much evidence as you can in your defence. When CHOICE extended a call-out to members to tell us how they’ve successfully contested their parking fines, we received more than 60 responses.
Several told us of blatant mistakes made by parking wardens who issued notices when no offence was committed or issued a ticket for the wrong offence. Most cases had one thing in common: those who thought they were unjustly fined made sure they gathered as much information as possible at the scene of the “crime”.
Building up evidence increases your chance of winning your appeal so you may not need to take your case to court. You can still elect to have your case heard in court if your appeal is rejected by the council, so you’ll need the evidence anyway.
For example, taking a photo of your car and capturing the immediate area around it may help you dispute a ticket. If you were parked in a space that required a ticket and the ticket machine was faulty, take a photo of the machine in question.
Many councils allow parking ticket appeals to be made online, so check your local council website for details. An online penalty review form may help save you time manually writing out and posting a long explanation. In most states, you have 28 days to appeal. But you should act quickly, as the process can take months.
When Brisbane CHOICE member Lorraine was told she had to pay a fine for not displaying a ticket – despite appealing to the council with photos of how there were no ticket machines in sight – she decided to go to court. “About a month later I got a letter from the council that it had made a ‘technical error’ and that I was not required to pay the fine!”
Whether you intend to appeal or go to court, be sure to act quickly before the payment due date as every reminder sent to you typically incurs further penalty fees.
Going to court gives you the opportunity to defend your case in front of a magistrate, provided you’re prepared to take a day off work to attend. The procedure generally starts with letting the relevant council know you intend to contest the case. The council contacts a magistrate’s court, which in turn lets you know the time and date of your appearance.
You will have to prepare supporting evidence to produce in court If you convince the magistrate the fine was unfairly or mistakenly issued, your fine will be waived. If you lose, however, you may have to pay the fine as well as the costs to the court and the council that issued the fine.