Motorists who fail to pay their parking fines could end up with a bad credit rating, preventing them from getting loans, mortgages and even a mobile phone, the Roads Service has warned.
Earlier this week the Department for Regional Development toughened its stance against fine evaders by clamping and towing vehicles which had incurred at least three unpaid parking fines.
Within the first two days, parking enforcement officers removed two vehicles from Northern Ireland streets, and impounded them in its Templepatrick storage facility where they will remain until the owners repay all there debts.
However clamping and removing a vehicle is not the worst thing that could happen to a motorist.
According to Simon Richardson, Roads Service Parking Enforcement Manager, those who continue to evade paying fines could end up with a bad credit rating.
“Cars which have been towed will stay at least a month in the pound,” he explained. “If we have not received any contact from the owners or if they do not pay the fines we will take steps to either sell the vehicle or have it crushed depending on its value.
“The money we would receive from that would be used to partly pay off the debt.
“It’s totally up to the individual whether they collect their car or not but what I would say if the car was of no value we will pursue that debt through the Enforcement of Judgements Office.
“Parking infringements are a civil offence and the fines are a civil debt against the person.
“By not paying those debts, it can result in a poor credit rating.”
Mr Richardson makes no apologies for the tough stance and explains motorists are given ample time to pay and appeal fines before it would even get to that stage. which is in stark comparison to what happened to vehicles in Dublin.
If a car is parked illegally, it is generally clamped immediately and drivers have to pay around 80 euro to get the clamp removed.
In order for a car to be clamped in Northern Ireland, a car owner would have to amass three unpaid parking fines which had each gone through the entire notice process first.
When someone receives a parking ticket and fails to pay it, the Roads Services sends out four reminder notices. If the fines are not paid, officers check with the DVLNI that the car is still registered to the same person and set out to clamp and/or remove the vehicle.
Once it has been towed to the car pound, the vehicle will remain there for at least a month. However for owners to get their car out of the facility they will need to pay all of their fines as well as a towing fee of £105 and the £12 daily holding fee which could amount to £372.
In total motorists could be faced with paying more than £550.
Mr Richardson said drivers who continued to park illegally and refused to pay their tickets were now being targeted in a more robust way.
“What we want is for people to park properly and if they don’t and receive a fine to deal with it immediately by either paying or challenging it,” he said. “Don’t ignore the ticket and don’t ignore the reminder notices. We have never been keen on clamping but we will actively seek you out.”