Parking fines and vehicle clamping
A system of parking fees, restrictions and fines is in place throughout towns and cities in Ireland to ensure that careless parking does not cause obstructions for other motorists, businesses and impinge on the safety of pedestrians.
Most local authorities employ their own traffic wardens to enforce the parking regulations and issue fines. Members of An Garda Siochana (the Irish police force) also have this authority. Your local authority is responsible for creating bye-laws that list places in your town/city where parking fees will be imposed. It also decides the amount of parking fees. Before making bye-laws that restrict parking, your local authority must consult with the Garda Commissioner and give public notice of its intention to make bye-laws that will restrict parking. It may take out advertisements in local newspapers or on local radio, etc. It is also obliged to consider any observations or objections from members of the public that result from that process. Objections or queries can be lodged with your local authority's traffic division.
Parking fees (disc parking, permit parking, car parks and "pay and display" parking) vary throughout Ireland and can be set and adjusted by your local authority. The discrepancies that exist between parking fees in cities and smaller towns are attributed to the increased costs of providing and maintaining the service in cities.
Revenue generated from public parking fees and fines is used to cover the costs of operating these services. Surplus revenue from these services contributes to urban renewal programmes, public facilities and other forms of local authority spending.
The Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations, 1997, as amended, provide for the general regulation and control of traffic, pedestrians and parking. The Road Traffic Act, 1994 gives local authorities the power to make bye-laws governing the type of paid parking controls in their areas, for example, disc parking or pay and display parking. Under the Road Traffic (Signs) Regulations, 1997, as amended, local authorities are responsible for authorising regulatory traffic signs and designating areas where parking is restricted or prohibited. Section 11 of the Road Traffic Act 2002 provided for the current system of fixed-charge traffic and parking offences, replacing the previous system of 'on the spot' fine offences. Clamping of vehicles is provided for by Section 101B of the Road Traffic Act, 1961. The Vehicle Clamping Act 2015 makes the National Transport Authority responsible for the regulation of clamping from 1 June 2017.
Enforcement of parking regulations
Traffic wardens are representatives of the local authority and have authority under the Road Traffic Acts to advise motorists of parking regulations and issue tickets for illegal parking and non-payment of parking fees. Members of the Gardai also have these powers under the Road Traffic Acts. Traffic wardens and members of the Gardai also give evidence in court in relation to the non-payment of fines.
A system of fixed charge parking fines for illegal parking and non-payment of parking fees has been in place throughout Ireland since April 2006. Fines are issued by the Gardai and by traffic wardens. The parking ticket contains the following details: a reference number, the location of the offence, the registration number of the car, the amount of the fine and the date and time the ticket was issued. Most traffic wardens use a handheld computerised device to issue tickets and the local authority keeps a record of all tickets issued in a main database. Using this database, the local authority can find out how many parking fines a particular individual has accumulated.
Under this system, if you receive a parking fine, you must pay the fine to the traffic division of the local authority within a period of 28 days from the date of the fixed charge notice. If you fail to pay within the allotted 28 days, the charge increases by 50 per cent. If the fine is still unpaid after a further 28 days, court proceedings are initiated. Furthermore, if you are convicted of parking dangerously you will receive 5 penalty points and a court fine. Read more about penalty points for driving offences here.
Motorists from other countries
Under a cross-border pilot project with Northern Ireland, motorists from Northern Ireland who fail to pay parking fees or toll charges here can be pursued similar to other motorists. The Driver and Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland will forward the motorist's details to the appropriate local authority for parking offences or Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) for tolls. Similarly, if you fail to pay a parking fee or toll in Northern Ireland, your details can be passed to the Northern Ireland authorities.
Motorist from other countries such as Poland, France or Germany can be pursued through a separate arrangement which TII has. It uses the services of a specialist parking/tolling enforcement agency.
Parking is restricted in certain parts of most towns and cities in Ireland during business hours. Parking information signs on the streets will clearly display the hours that restrictions are in operation. During these hours, you are not allowed to obstruct clearways, bus lanes and loading zones. Disabled parking spaces are off limits at all times to all motorists unless you have an appropriate permit. View further information on Parking Permits for Disabled Drivers here.
If any changes are to be made to the parking restrictions in an area, they must be approved by the local council, who will make the necessary changes to the existing bye-laws. Changes might be requested by a shop-owner who wants to have an area outside his or her premises marked as a loading bay. Residents' associations often request that parking restrictions be introduced into their area. Anyone requesting changes to existing parking restrictions must contact his or her local county council representative or the traffic division of the local authority. The request must be brought up for consideration at the local county council meeting. If it is deemed to have merit, a bye law will be passed and information signs will be erected in the area giving people details of the restrictions in place.
If you need to avail of on-street parking in your own residential area, you can get a resident's permit from the traffic division of your local authority that allows you to park on your street. The cost of a permit will vary depending on your location. Your permit will specify the name of that street. Only one permit will be issued to any individual car owner and no more than four permits will be issued to applicants in any one household. If you live in a house that has been divided up into more than one unit of accommodation, you are only entitled to one parking permit per unit. Residents of purpose built apartment blocks are not eligible for residents' permits.
Disc parking operates outside the central zone and in some suburbs in cities and large towns. Many urban areas are divided into zones for traffic management purposes. The central zone will take in the city or town centre where the demand for parking is highest and the parking fees will be more expensive. There will be signs erected in areas where disc parking is in operation giving details of the hours the scheme is in operation, the maximum parking time and the parking fees. Books of parking discs can be purchased in newsagents or in shops displaying a "parking discs sold here" sign. By marking the appropriate year, month, day, hour, and minute, you validate the disc. You display the disc in a visible place in your car, for example, the windscreen or side window. Discs are valid for one hour and you can only park in a disc parking area for 2 hours.
Pay and Display parking
Pay and Display parking operates with a single solar powered meter serving about 20 spaces. There will be signs in pay and display parking areas giving details of the hours the scheme operates and the maximum parking time. As coins are inserted, the parking expiry time for the amount inserted is displayed. When you have deposited enough coins, you press the green button and a two-part ticket is printed. The larger part should be stuck to your windscreen and you can keep the other part as a reminder of when your parking expires. Prices range per hour, depending on where you are in Ireland, but in general fees range from 80 cent to €2.90 per hour.
Private car parks
Private car parks are not regulated by the Government in any way. That is to say, they are privately owned and revenue earned from parking in these car parks goes directly to the owners and not your local authority. The prices charged in private car parks vary from place to place, ranging from about 80 cent to €2.50 per hour. Prices are determined by the car park owner. Prices charged by a local authority in its car parks will be decided by the authority itself.
Vehicle clamping in public places is in place in some cities. Services are operated in those cities by private companies on behalf of the local authority. Employees of the vehicle clamping company are entitled to clamp (and de-clamp vehicles) and issue clamping notices for vehicles that are in violation of the parking regulations.
The National Transport Authority is responsible for the regulation of clamping. This is provided for by Section 7 of the Vehicle Clamping Act 2015, which came into effect on 1 June 2017 (pdf). The Act includes other changes to the law on clamping which will come into effect on 1 October 2017.
The Road Traffic (Removal, Storage and Disposal of Vehicles) Regulations 1983–1998 give power to local authorities to tow away vehicles that have been abandoned or illegally parked on a public road or in a local authority car park. Vehicles are towed to a car pound and a significant fee (up to €160) may be charged for their release. You need to contact your local Garda station and staff there will be able to tell you the location of the nearest car pound.
Most local authority web sites have details of parking restrictions and the type of pay parking in operation in their area. You can also get details of car park locations and rates and also the location of disabled parking spaces. Alternatively, you can contact the relevant local authority to get these details.
Any contravention of local authority parking bye laws carries a fixed-charge fine. Details of where you can pay your parking fine should be written on your parking ticket. You can pay by cash, cheque, credit card or debit card. If you fail to pay your parking fine or to make a formal appeal against the fine, you can be prosecuted in a District Court for your alleged offence.
If your car has been clamped, you may have to pay fines ranging from €25 to €90, depending on the local authority or private company involved. The clamping company will have left a sticker on your car window giving you details of who to contact to get your car de-clamped. Fines can be paid by cash, cheque, credit card and debit card. Further details are available from your local authority.
If your car has been towed away and impounded, you can expect to pay up to €160 to get it released. If you suspect your car has been towed away, contact the local Garda station to find out the location of the car pound. Again, fines can be paid by cash, cheque, credit card and debit card.
How to apply
To make a general complaint or an appeal concerning the operation of the clamping or towing service, you can contact your local authority. It will either have staff dealing with queries and complaints from members of the public or it can give you contact details for whatever company is responsible for parking control in that area. You can either make your complaint by phone or you can write to the relevant authorities, giving details and enclosing any documents that may help your case. Most complaints will be acknowledged within days of receipt. Your claim will be investigated and you should receive a response within a month.
You can also appeal against a parking ticket if you feel you have been fined unfairly. Take as much detail of the scene as you can (photographs, details of road markings, etc) and send them to the local authority traffic division with your parking ticket and a letter outlining your complaint.