Parking law myths

Everyone’s an expert when it comes to the law, especially where parking is concerned.

But don’t listen to people whose received wisdom comes from the pub or dodgy websites that know nothing.

If you want to know where you stand with parking, check out our guide to parking laws, read this page too – and don’t forget to check out FirstCar’s legal section too.

Myth: You can park anywhere you want on a bank holiday

Many assume that bank holidays mean free access to resident's bays and streets with yellow lines. While some councils have set this precedent and it’s often assumed that traffic wardens don’t work on bank holidays, in reality, many councils enforce bank holiday parking.

Myth: Private car park owners can fine you

Private car park owners can’t issue fines, although any document they give will often be dressed up and worded in such a way that it looks like an official fine. Private car park owners can only issue you with an invoice, essentially for breach of contract.

This doesn't mean that private car park owners can't charge you for parking on their land, or attempt to reclaim money if you fail to pay. It does mean, however, that they can’t legitimately demand money and expect payment through the issuing of the notice alone: contract law means they have to take you to court first.

In practice, private car park owners often fail to bring matters to court, and even when they do, their 'contracts' are often unenforceable. Apparently, many drivers who challenge such tickets, end up not having to cough up – but you can’t rely on this.

Myth: Private car park owners can clamp you

It became illegal to clamp, tow or block in vehicles on private land in October 2012. So if your car is clamped in such circumstances, you have the right to call the police.

Myth: Single yellow lines have the same restrictions everywhere

Some motorists assume that yellow line restrictions are the same everywhere. For instance, they may believe that it's legal to park on a single yellow after 6pm - a common time for councils to remove the restriction.

However, the rules vary and you should always check the accompanying sign - there are plenty of roads that restrict parking later or earlier than roads you may be familiar with.

Myth: Blue Badge holders can park anywhere

Parking rules are relaxed for Blue Badge holders, but they must still observe a number of key restrictions: 

  • Though single or double yellow lines can be parked on with a Blue Badge, the maximum time is three hours.

  • Many double yellows exist for safety: it wouldn't be advisable or desirable to park on double yellows at a junction, and only in extreme cases would such a manoeuvre be legally permissible.

  • If a single or double yellow line specifically restricts loading and unloading, Blue Badge holders can’t park there.

  • In certain areas, Blue Badge holder parking bays have time restrictions.

  • On private land, Blue Badge holders enjoy no special permissions unless signage indicates otherwise.

  • Central London (including parts or all of Westminster, Kensington, Chelsea, Camden and the City of London) has its own, tighter parking concession rules.

  • Even when obeying all of the above restrictions, a Blue Badge holder must move their car if requested to by a traffic warden or police officer.

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Myth: A parking ticket expires three minutes after its stated expiry time

Parking enforcement is sometimes said to have a 'three-minute amnesty' on ticket expiry, the idea being that a warden's watch could easily be a few minutes out.

Again, this is one of those things that is technically true in some places, but isn't something that you should depend on. Consider: 

  • Some councils don't operate the amnesty as a policy

  • The availability of centrally controlled surveillance negates the margin of error

  • If your watch is wrong too, there's a good chance you're going to be more than three minutes late


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* This article was brought to you in association with Nationwide Vehicle Contracts.