LITTLE-KNOWN loopholes could save drivers in England from having to fork out on hefty parking ticket fines in car parks.

Research from the RAC Foundation, nearly two million motorists were fined in the first quarter of the last financial year, costing millions of pounds.

However, there is a little-known loophole that will allow drivers to avoid the hit to their bank accounts.

A grace period of ten minutes exists, allowing drivers a bit of extra time to get back to the vehicles once their parking ticket expires.

Somerset County Gazette:

The leniency to the rules was introduced by the Government in April 2015, and has allowed drivers to avoid fines in regulated streets spaces or council car parks.

The Government ruled that “enforcement should be sensitive, fair and proportionate”.

It added: “This would not be the case if a driver received a penalty charge notice (PCN) for returning to their vehicle only moments after the expiry of a period of permitted parking.”

Further guidance states: “No penalty charge is payable for the contravention where the vehicle has been left beyond the permitted parking period for a period not exceeding 10 minutes."

The rule only applies in England, will only be applicable to those who park in regulated on-street parking or in car parks run by the local authority.

Motorists parking in private car parks will not be protected by the grace period.

The AA explained: “We campaigned for a long time that it was unfair to charge a £40 fine for a few minutes' overstay.

“Some councils were sympathetic when drivers challenged parking tickets and gave reasons for an overstay. But others strictly enforced their parking fines.

“That meant it was a postcode lottery as to whether or not you'd get a fine for being a few minutes late. Since the government brought in an official grace period, drivers have had a small degree of leeway and a legal option to challenge a ticket.”

Edmund King, AA President, added, "There wouldn’t have been a need for central government to interfere if all local authorities had exercised the discretionary approach to parking enforcement of old.

“Parking tickets were supposed to be a deterrent to bad behaviour, not a fines harvest.”