Parking offences fall into six main categories:
- parking in a metered zone where the meter is not running;
- parking in a metered zone longer than the maximum time notified on the meter;
- parking in a parking space where a voucher machine is available and failing to obtain or display a parking voucher;
- parking in a parking space for which a voucher machine is available longer than the maximum period allowed by a parking voucher;
- parking where signs prohibit it or where otherwise prohibited by law;
- parking partly inside and partly outside the parking space.
There are many other instances where parking is restricted by law. Some of the more common ones are:
- on an intersection or within six metres of the corner of an intersection;
- leaving a vehicle within 9 metres of the approach side or 6 metres on the departure side of a pedestrian crossing;
- leaving a vehicle standing within 18 metres on the approach side or 6 metres on the departure side of a bus stop.
Where a parking offence is committed, any police officer or parking meter attendant may serve a parking ticket requiring payment of the prescribed penalty within 14 or 21 days of the date of issue of the ticket. A traffic ticket may be served personally by handing it to the owner of the vehicle, or, most commonly, by leaving it on or attached to the vehicle.
Unlike traffic offences, there is no points system for parking offences. Further, a bad parking offence record will not affect a driver’s licence, nor will it usually have any bearing on penalties for later parking offences.
Common Parking Signs
Some common parking restriction signs and what they mean are as follows:
NO PARKING: A vehicle may drop off or pick up a person etc., but there is no parking in a zone marked with such a sign.
NO STOPPING: A vehicle may not park except to comply with the requirements of a traffic control device of a police officer or an authorised officer.
CLEARWAY: A vehicle may not stop at the kerb for any reason, except that a bus, taxi or hire car may stop to pick up or set down passengers.
LOADING ZONE: When actually picking up or setting down goods, a truck may stand for up to 30 minutes, for the purpose of carrying goods to or from premises within 100 metres.
Receiving a Parking Ticket
There are three alternatives when a parking ticket is received:
- pay the penalty within the prescribed period;
- establish that there is no liability (see below); or
- don’t pay and have the matter dealt with by the court.
Parking matters are nearly always prosecuted by the relevant Council. A number of factors will need to be considered including extra penalties and costs the person may have to pay if the matter goes to court – if you lose, you are likely to have to pay thousands in costs for the Council’s legal representation.
Where there is no dispute that the offence was committed and that the driver was the person who committed the offence, it is best to pay the penalty and avoid going to court. If a person is temporarily unable to pay the fine, they may ask for an extension of time.
Reasonable requests for extension of time to pay may be made by telephoning the parking officer of the local council. If the penalty is not paid, a summons will be issued, and served personally by a council officer, police officer or by certified mail to the address shown on the motor vehicle registration. The matter will then be dealt with by a court on the date shown in the summons whether or not the defendant is present.
If the offence is proven, the court may impose a penalty. The amount of the penalty will be determined by whether the offence is a first offence or not, plus an amount for court costs.
If the driver believes that no parking offence was committed, they may contest the matter in court. For example, they may have received a ticket for overstaying in a two hour zone, and believe that the vehicle was not there for more than two hours. However, several factors need to be borne in mind.
- The penalty involved is nearly always too small to warrant the expense of legal representation, so that the driver should be able to argue their own case;
- It may be difficult to persuade the court to accept the driver’s version of the facts in preference to that of the parking attendant or police officer; and
- If the driver is unsuccessful, they may incur court costs.
Problems are sometimes caused by the abandoning of vehicles in public streets. A car cannot legally be left on a public road or in a designated car parking place for more than 24 hours.
Police may mark a car they suspect has been abandoned. Efforts are made to contact the last registered owner. If this fails, the car will be towed away. After 3 months, such a car is sold by tender. The Council has powers to remove vehicles obstructing Council property or left on Council land.