Law Change Clarifies No Right for Private Parking Fines

Operators of private parking facilities need to apply for status as an authorised parking authority or they have no right to issue fines under new legislation that passed the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.

Pre-empting a court determination, the ACT Legislative Assembly moved to clarify the rights of the Road Transport Authority to refuse to hand over driver information to private companies.

Parking in a private space longer than you have paid for is best characterised as a breach of contract or possibly even trespass but the issuing of fines is punitive and therefore represents more than any actual loss suffered by the driver staying longer. Actual losses would more likely be assessed to be in the realm of $8-13, instead of the current ~$80. Parking operators are able to apply for official status as a parking authority under a model which sees the government collect fines whilst the operator gets the revenue from the drivers. Alternatively the operator is free to install boom-gates which means that they are able to directly recover any apparent “losses” from drivers overstaying their paid time.

The current recovery system for the pay-and-display operators is to issue the notices and then request driver registration information from the RTA in order to seek private enforcement of the so-called debt.

The court action was triggered when the Government refused to hand over the registration information essentially blocking the efforts of the parking operators to collect on their “fines”.

Additional changes included in the legislation include the creation of an offence for drinking alcohol whilst driving, banning bicycles on public roads that are powered by “an internal combustion engine”, and clarifying that “drifting” is dangerous driving.

Canberra Times Article.

Image courtesy of “Seattle parking checker, 1960” by Seattle Municipal Archives from Seattle, WA – Parking checker, 1960Uploaded by Jmabel. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_1960.gif#/media/File:Seattle_parking_checker,_1960.gif

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