Free parking: Ticket loophole lets company off hook

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
A company which successfully fought a $40 parking fine has highlighted a loophole in the Invercargill City Council’s bylaws.

Auto Repossessions Limited defended a charge of failing to activate a kiosk today in the Invercargill District Court in front of Justices of the Peace Sharron Ryan and Craig Rodgers.

Counsel Kristy Rusher argued there was no case to answer as the defendant had parked for less than 30 minutes which meant he could park for free.

However he did not enter his number plate and the Council claimed that was an infringement.

“There’s no failure to pay,” Ms Rusher said.

“Here the prescribed fee is zero dollars and you can’t pay zero dollars.”

She said the kiosks and surrounding signage indicated payment was necessary, and that the concept of something being free also meant no restrictions, complications or dollar amount.

“A reasonable ordinary person would not understand that you needed to enter a plate,” Ms Rusher said.

Prosecutor Michael Morris said the system was called “Pay by Plate” and it was apparent citizens needed to enter their number plate into the kiosk in order to park.

He acknowledged that since Auto Repossessions Ltd’s infringement notice, the council had changed the kiosk display wording.

“The council always welcomes the opportunity to have its bylaws challenged like this, so it can improve,” Mr Morris said.

The Justices of the Peace ruled that the bylaw did not specify a requirement to activate a parking meter.

They accepted the defence’s case and dismissed the charge.