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

It comes as new research found that 3.5 million parking fines were dished out to tradespeople alone last year, costing more than £177 million.

Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), or parking fines, can be anywhere between £50 - £70 each outside London and up to £160 in the capital, but are normally halved if paid within 14 days.

Alison Traboulsi, product manager at Direct Line who conducted the research, said: “Parking is a regular battle for many tradespeople.

“Navigating a multitude of different parking controls and council permits can be complicated, so it is not surprising that many tradespeople are hit with parking fines, clamping, or being towed.

“Some will say it’s part and parcel of the trade but with an estimated 3.5 million fines issued in the past year, these parking battles are costing tradespeople across the country 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.

Worcester News:

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 if they overstay by up to ten minutes.

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.