Dear Lifehacker, I rode my motorbike down to Bondi Beach yesterday, and after riding around for a while, found a gap in a row of parked cars, just in front of a parking meter, so slipped my bike in between them. When I returned after a couple of hours, well within the four hour limit indicated by the nearby 4P sign, I found a fine for $236 for parking in a bus zone.
Parking ticket picture from Shutterstock
This obviously surprised me, as the 4P sign, parking meter, and row of parked cars (none of which had been issued a fine, incidentally) seemed to indicate that this was a perfectly legitimate place to park. There was a 'Bus Zone' sign, and a bus stop, but these were much further down from where I was parked. After looking around for a couple of minutes, I found another, much smaller, bus zone sign tucked away at the end of the end of the parking lane. It is easy to miss and even easier to conceal (for example, if a van or something is stopped in front of it).
Is there anything I can do to fight this? Clearly the council has a 4P sign AND a parking meter right where I stopped, which seem to me clear indicators that this is a valid place to park. Sure, there is also a sign indicating a bus zone, but this is not clearly displayed and is contrary to all the other indicators that you can safely park here. Any advice? It just seems like a money trap to me. Thanks, Peeved Parker
We recently highlighted poor car park signage as one of the Most Infuriating Traffic Fine Causes -- so I feel your frustration.
Did you take any photos of the signs and surroundings at the time of the incident? Do you think a reasonable person would agree that there's sufficient cause for confusion? If so, we'd definitely contest it. The proper procedures for doing so should be listed on the back of your ticket -- in most circumstances you can either request an internal review from the NSW State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) or have the matter heard at Local Court.
The former option involves filling out a Request Review of Penalty Notice form and sending it to the SDRO along with any supporting documents. An example of what your accompanying letter should look like can be found here.
If the SDRO sides with you, it will ask the issuing agency (in this case Bondi Council) to conduct a review. However, the agency can still choose not to conduct a review, in which case you will be notified in writing that the fine still holds.
Having the matter decided in court is a more direct approach but it's also more time-consuming -- you can expect to waste an entire day in court waiting for your case to be heard. You'll also need to pay a $50 application fee which you wont get back if the judge rules in the traffic warden's favour.
You can arrange your court appearance by paying a visit to your local court or filling out a court election form via the SDRO website. Unfortunately you usually can't choose the day of the hearing but are given a limited range of dates to select from.
If you go down this route, remember to be rational and polite and only present relevant evidence. Avoid getting ranty or using phrases like "money trap" which can only hurt your chances. You can also expect your previous driving record to come under review -- if you have a stack of prior driving offenses the judge is less likely to be favourable towards you. That said, it certainly sounds like you may have a case here. Good luck!
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