Driver uses Google history to overturn £100 car park fine by private firm

·2 min read
Parking penalty notice on a car - Anna Watson/Alamy
Parking penalty notice on a car - Anna Watson/Alamy

A driver overturned a £100 parking fine after he used Google to prove he had not overstayed in a car park.

Jamie Chalmers said he was "shocked" when he was handed a fixed penalty notice while he was on a night out celebrating his 21st birthday.

Premier Park issued the fine for over-staying in a car park by three hours, even though he said he had not used it.

He appealed by sending evidence of his Google Location History to the private firm, which showed he had instead visited two fast-food drive-through restaurants nearby.

The company upheld Mr Chalmers' appeal and cancelled his fine.

They had no choice

Mr Chalmers, of Hilsea, Portsmouth, said: "I showed them the evidence and they had no choice but to drop it."

Google Location History allows users to review a timeline of where they have been in past days, weeks and months through the Google Maps app.

"I was shocked when I got the ticket. I thought, 'I haven't parked anywhere for three hours'," Mr Chalmers said.

"The picture they sent me showed me driving back to the main road. Another picture showed me giving way at a junction."

He urged other drivers to fight falsely issued fines by using the feature.

"I won, but a lot of people might not be in the same position," he added.

Transport research charity the RAC Foundation warned the case was an example of "contestable" fines issued by private companies and advised drivers to be vigilant against unnecessary charges.

A new record

Director Steve Gooding said: "Last year, an estimated 8.6 million parking penalties of up to £100 a time were issued on private land – a new record. It is inconceivable that this many motorists knowingly set out to flout the rules and pay charges of £100.

"Therefore, a significant proportion of these demands are likely to be contestable. In fact, each year parking companies decide not to defend thousands of cases that drivers take to the appeals service.”

Private parking firms issued a record number of fine to drivers last year, figures show.

They averaged 23,000 every day between April 2021 and March 2022, according to DVLA data, an increase of more than half compared with four years previously.

In 2020/21 there were 4.4 million fines issued with the figure markedly lower because of the pandemic. In 2019/20 there were 8.4 million fines issued and in 2018/19 there were 6.8 million.

In June the Government withdrew a long-awaited code of practice aimed at eradicating some of the sector's worst actions following a legal challenge by parking companies.

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