Councils are cracking down and using new technology to trap anyone who overstays their welcome.
Now more people than ever are challenging their fines, including one angry driver whose $1 ticket has turned into a battle that's cost more than $10,000.
He's the pinged parker who won't pay up, shut up or give up fighting his council - no matter what the cost.More stories from Today Tonight
What started out as a $1 parking ticket has cost Phil McIntyre $1700 to challenge, which sounds like a lot until you hear what his local council has spent.
“I don't know how they are going to justify $10,000 spent trying to recoup $1,” McIntyre said.
It's a massive gamble to prove one of its parking ticket machines is not faulty. In July last year, McIntyre and his partner Liz ran low on fuel in the north Queensland city of Townsville. They pulled into a parking bay and put their last dollar into a meter. But they claim the machine failed.
“I pressed the green button, and nothing happened.”
They went to get more cash and rang a friend to bring them petrol. But by the time they got back, a fine was waiting for them.
McIntyre 's sent numerous letters to the council pleading for leniency, but council wouldn’t back down. They accuse him of being a serial fine dodger with a history of challenging fines. His fate was decided by an appeals court judge, with a win for McIntyre that left the council with costly egg all over its face.
This Christmas get ready for a bumper parking blitz that'll have drivers losing their Christmas spirit.
Sydney's Lane Cove council reportedly switched on 200 underground parking sensors last Christmas. Now the meter eyes are being used or tested in almost every metro council in Australia.
And don't trust what's printed on your ticket.
Marion Lowe paid $8 for two hours’ parking. Her ticket is clearly printed as expiring at 1.45, but the catch is that the sensor logged her arriving at 11.33 - so by 1.40 she was seven minutes overdue and got fined.
Lowe challenged the $61 fine, and just wished she had enough coin to appeal it in court.
You're not even safe in front of your house. Gold Coast driver Drew Hamilton had been parking in his street for a year with no problems, until, out of the blue, he ended up with a ticket.
“There are no signs in this street other than about 700 metres up which clearly marks the parking area and the limit.”
The area is what's called a ‘parking precinct’ and signs are only needed at the entrances of streets. His council says they've been there since 2008.
Scott Coulthart of Legality Lawyers says regardless of laws there are still ways of getting out of fines, and more of us are doing so.
“I've seen cases when they’ve put the wrong city in; they’ve put the wrong day in; the wrong time’ the wrong car - so you should check the particulars on the ticket,” Coulthart said.That's Coulthart's first tip - double check the date, the time, your number plate, and all the details.
If there's a mistake take action immediately.
Photocopy the ticket and send a letter to the relevant council within 28 days.
Plus put any other evidence you can get - photos of the machine or street for instance.
Finally once a parking inspector's put pen to paper, they can't go back. It's up to you to plead your case with them early.Townsville City Council statement
''Council’s parking laws are intended to assist our small retailers compete with the big shopping centres by ensuring a high turnover of parking spaces in the CBD.
Mr McIntyre is a serial fine dodger and the council considers the cost incurred in standing up for small business to be money well spent. The council believes it has a strong case should it choose to appeal today’s ruling.
Pursuing fines through the court system is a last resort for council and we provide ample opportunity to settle matters out of court.''Contact details
- LegalIT Lawyers - www.legalit.com.au