9 October 2014

A broken down vehicle is bad enough...

what a broken down car often looks like - bonnet up
A resident asked Mr Mustard to have a look at their challenge to a PCN issued when she had broken down. They were doing a good job but Mr Mustard thought it would be useful if he posted advice for others in the same boat. Mr Mustard looked through PATAS decisions and was amazed at how often a vehicle broke down and was given a PCN.

Where should you break down?

One case was in a bus lane. That isn't as bonkers as it sounds as the vehicle will be under camera and the operator will see the arrival of a tow truck or a mechanic to attend to the fault so the council can themselves corroborate your story.

Don't put a wheel on the pavement unless there really is nowhere else; if you block one lane but traffic can alternate that will do; you could always act as the stop/go marshall to help traffic move smoothly. You do have a yellow vest in your car, don't you? Better to push the vehicle to the side of the road and put your warning triangle out at least 30m up the road.

If you break down in a bay where you have to pay to park you need to pay and that way you will avoid a PCN unless you exceed the maximum time.

Probably best to breakdown on single or double yellow or in a residents bay, if you can.

How should you break down?

Not because you have run out of petrol. Your Appeal will fail as that is not an event outside of your control.
Not due to lack of maintenance - ditto.
Not due to a known fault that you haven't had fixed.
Not for overheating if you hadn't checked the water level recently.

You need to breakdown for a sudden and unexpected reason i.e. something did actually break. A puncture is fine if you need to call for help to get it fixed and the vehicle cannot safely be driven as it is.

What should you do?

Put a note in the windscreen. The traffic warden is meant to take a photograph of it.
Obtain an invoice or proof of recovery from whichever recovery company recovered your car, if that was the case.
Obtain a breakdown docket from the AA / RAC / Green Flag etc which shows they attended and what they did.
Obtain an invoice from your mechanic which shows when he collected your vehicle and what work was carried out.
If a friend came and helped you get them to write a short statement saying who they are, where they live, what they did and when.
Take photographs on your phone which show work being done e.g. a new tyre being fitted.
The traffic warden has to answer a question on his handheld equipment "Any sign of a breakdown?" so if you have a note in your windscreen, the bonnet in the air, a warning triangle out, your hazard lights flashing and a jack under the car he/she really should make a note of "Yes".

The police

If the police pushed your car to where it received a PCN then you are not liable to receive a PCN as you were acting under the direction of a policeman. Best to make a note of the badge number of whoever helped you so that you can get a confirmation later.


The council often reject invoices as proof of repair when they are carried out by garages which are not vat registered. Do not be put off as this is not correct behaviour by the council. You may use a small garage, a one man band, who trades below the vat threshold but is bona fide and you can photograph their premises to show they exist.

Do not make up a breakdown company or garage as the adjudicators can smell a rat when they see one.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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