How to get out of paying for fines

A speeding or parking ticket needn't cost the earth. It's always worth appealing, finds James Daley

Celebrities and dignitaries always seem to get off the hook when they get issued with a speeding ticket or parking fine. Last week, Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff – who was allegedly caught going at 87mph in a 50mph zone – became the latest sports star to have his speeding case thrown out of court because, as his lawyer was quick to point out, the notice of prosecution had not been issued within the specified time-limit. Case closed.

In fact, barely a week goes by where celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman, aka Mr Loophole, doesn't come to the aid of some star in a sticky situation.

But you don't have to be rich or famous to appeal a speeding or parking fine successfully. Speeding cameras are by no means infallible, and parking wardens all too often leave tickets on vehicles that were legally parked. So when a fine lands on your doormat, it's often well worth taking the time to challenge the decision.

Speeding

The best form of defence when it comes to speeding fines is, of course, not to get caught in the first place. These days there are numerous GPS devices on the market that will let you know where all the speed cameras are, and some will even detect radar guns being waved by policemen from the edge of the road.

However, if you do get a speeding ticket in the post, it's worth considering whether it was a fair cop, or whether you've been unfairly picked out. A few years ago, law student Steve Lucas successfully appealed a fine and a driving ban when he was accused of travelling at 115mph in his 1.2-litre Fiat Punto. He commissioned an independent expert to test his car's top speed, proving that it could not, in fact, go any faster than 104mph.

One of the first things to look out for when you receive your ticket is the Freddie Flintoff loophole. Tickets should be issued within 14 days of the speeding incident. Monica Jaimini, a lawyer at Which? legal services, says that if your ticket arrives any later than this, you should write back pointing out that the authorities are outside of this limit. In some cases, your ticket will be cancelled at this stage, although you may have to keep on fighting.

Another plausible basis for appeal is not knowing who was driving at the time of the ticket. Although the police are unlikely to be satisfied with a letter saying that you simply can't remember which member of your family was driving on the day in question, Jaimini says that this argument may hold water if you can provide a reasonable explanation as to why you can't be sure. For example, if you had been moving house, and several members of the family had driven in the same car down the same piece of road on the day in question, it could plausibly be difficult to nail down who was driving at a certain time of day.

However, the website nopenaltypoints.co.uk points out that, in theory, people who cannot (or will not) identify who was driving on a particular day could still face a fine of up to £1,000 and three points on their licence.

If you think the speed camera was inaccurate, Jaimini says that you are within your rights to request the calibration certificate of the camera in question, to check that it's been maintained and was working properly. If the authority cannot supply this, your appeal should be upheld.

Ultimately, if you are unsuccessful in your original appeal, you can go to court. However, Jaimini warns that you need to be aware of the potential costs if you lose, and the risk that you could end up getting a higher penalty and even more points on your licence if the case goes against you.

If you want more information on the many loopholes in driving penalties, there are a number of publications and websites such as www.uk-driving-secrets.com and www.speed-trap.co.uk. But you'll have to part with some of your hard earned cash to unlock these "secrets".

Parking

Barrie Segal of appealnow.com – a website that takes the stress out of challenging parking fines – says that councils admit that around 20 to 25 per cent of all parking tickets issued are cancelled. Segal says that, while councils often claim this demonstrates how reasonable they are when fines are appealed, he takes a different view: "If you ran a restaurant and poisoned one in four customers, you wouldn't be getting any stars from Mr F-word [Gordon Ramsay]."

Quite often parking bays aren't marked correctly, or there are no signs explaining the parking restrictions in a certain area. Segal says that if you get ticketed under these circumstances, it's important to take photos of the surrounding area to prove your case.

As of the end of March, it became legal for local authorities to send parking tickets out in the post, rather than having to leave them on your windscreen, but this doesn't change your right to appeal. If you're unsuccessful with your original appeal, you can take your case to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal at www. trafficpenaltytribunal.gov.uk.

"One very senior council official admitted to me that cases are only really ever looked at properly once the matter gets to the level where it's about to go to the adjudicator," adds Segal. So it's a good idea to persevere if you're not successful at first.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick