Knowing Your Rights – Traffic Wardens

It’s best to know your rights when encountering one.

There are many tales told about what traffic wardens can do and what they aren’t able to do, here we set the story straight and offer facts about traffic wardens and your rights as a fellow motorist.
 
So, what is a traffic warden?
Traffic wardens, also formally known as civil enforcement officers (CEOs) are employed by the local council to fulfil the duty of ensuring that parking regulations are being abided by and issuing penalty charge notices (PCNs or fines) when necessary.
They are restricted in terms of power, but they will often work closely with the police and report incidents such as anti-social behaviour.
 
If I were to drive away before a warden puts a PCN on my windscreen, is it valid?
If a traffic warden has issued a PCN, although it is not attached to the car, the council is able to request the car’s registered details from the DVLA and can send you the PCN via post.
They would have also taken note of your registration plate, allowing them to make a trace back to you.
 
Is there a minimum period a traffic warden should observe the vehicle before giving a ticket?
There is no listed official requirement for traffic wardens to monitor a vehicle for any period before giving it a PCN.
Although, some breaches are eligible for an instant fine such as parking on zig-zag lines outside a school, on the other hand, others like stopping on double yellow lines may need an observation period of up to 5 minutes to gather proof of the situation e.g. passengers weren’t unloading goods.
 
Is there a ‘parking grace period’ wardens must honour?
They must give motorists a “grace period” of up to 10 minutes after their parking ticket expires – this rule applies to both council or private car parks.
I have a Blue Badge. Can a parking warden still fine me?
  • Blue Badge holders have the access to park where other motorists can’t, such as single or double yellow lines, but this doesn’t give them the freedom to park anywhere. Even though they can park on a single or double yellow lines – they only have up to three hours.
  • They also must pay to park in private car parks, unless there are signs saying otherwise. Some public Blue Badge bays have their own time restrictions, although these times should be clearly signposted.
  • A traffic warden has the right to ask a Blue Badge holder to move their car if it was causing obstruction or if something was unsafe, even if the driver believes he or she is following all these rules.
Can a warden cancel a fine?
  • If you’re given a PCN which you feel is unfair, it’s not worth trying to take it up with the traffic warden, as they have little power to cancel it. Instead, your best bet is appealing it to your local council.
  • If you feel the appeal route is necessary, never pay the fine – this would make you appear as guilty, so it would be unlikely that you’d receive your money back.
  • Therefore, you need to contact the council as soon as possible (within 14 days) and outline why you feel the fine isn’t justified. Use pictures as evidence (where the car was parked), along with any signs in the area to support your appeal.
 
Overall, make sure when parking in an area you are abiding by the parking rules listed on a signpost and we recommend using the app Parkopedia which lists all available car parks in the area.
 
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