BREAKING parking rules isn’t uncommon and most drivers know the frustration of receiving a costly brown envelope through the letterbox.
But what most drivers aren’t aware of are the severe repercussions penalty charge notices (PCNs) have if they go unpaid or ignored.
Parking violations such as using bus lanes, parking on double yellow lines or using a car park without displaying a ticket can all warrant a PCN, which is usually issued by a government official.
You can see a full list of all the contravention types here to be sure to avoid them.
Ignoring a PCN
If you’re not so clued up on motoring contraventions, it’s not all that difficult to be slapped with a PCN – and the cost may leave a sting.
On average, the price of a PCN ranges from £60 to £130. But a recent change to road fines means drivers in London may have to cough up £160.
This is a lot of money for most households, especially during the testing times facing thousands with the cost of living crisis and inflation.
Understandably, cash isn’t stretching as far as it used to, and it may be tempting to ignore your PCN in hopes it will do a disappearing act – but don’t.
Ignoring a PCN for 28 days after it’s been issued to you will result in a charge certificate.
A charge certificate is the second request for payment of the PCN, but this time the price increases by 50% as a result of you taking no action.
Ignoring these further requests from officials can snowball and eventually land you with a county court judgement (CCJ) – which is when the real trouble begins.
What is a CCJ?
A CCJ is a legal decision made by a court, demanding you pay money believed to be owed.
They’re sent in the post and need to be responded to within 14 days to avoid worsening the situation.
Consequences of a CCJ on credit
If you are served a CCJ, it will go on your credit report as well as a public database called the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines.
And though it’s not there for good, it’s there for a while – six years to be exact.
It’s hard enough for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder as it is, let alone being haunted by a tainted credit history.
For those wanting to rent, a CCJ can prevent the right to do so entirely.
The Sun reached out to a spokesperson for Experian to learn exactly how a CCJ affects your credit score.
James Jones, leader of Experian’s public education team, said: “A CCJ will probably continue to have a significant impact upon your score until it drops off (after six years) but the impact is likely to diminish as it ages.
“In terms of repairing your score after a recent CCJ, keeping up all other payments to lenders and service providers will certainly help, as well as paying down any other borrowing.
“It’s possible you might pass a credit score test but still be refused credit because of something like a CCJ. Helpfully, lenders usually advertise these policy rules up front to help customers decide whether or not to apply in the first place.”
Having a damaged credit score could even affect your ability to get a mobile phone contract, leaving you with no option but to use an old handset or pay as you go sim card only – not ideal.
Will I get a CCJ even if the PCN is a small charge?
If you have a PCN for any parking contravention and you do not pay, no matter how small the charge is you could end up with a CCJ.
Can I appeal a CCJ?
If you don’t agree with the CCJ and believe you shouldn’t pay, you can try to have it set aside, which means it will be cancelled.
To do so, you’ll need to fill in an N244 application which you can find on the government’s website and send it to the court.
Though, the government warns that you may have to pay a court fee of £275 in doing this.
If successful, the CCJ should no longer affect your credit as it is removed from records.
James said: “If a CCJ was paid before the court hearing or within a month afterwards then you can apply to the court for a cancellation, which will again expunge the CCJ from the public records and, as a result, the records of the main credit reference agencies (CRAs).”
Maybe you disagree with the parking fine in the first place – there’s a lesser-known rule that means drivers can appeal parking tickets.
And if the current price for parking fines wasn’t frustrating enough, some firms call for the maximum charge to be increased to £120.
It’s worth double checking that your driving license details are up to date, as you could be fined £1000 for failing to update the DVLA, plus you could rack up higher fines if your PCNs are sent to an old address.