Drivers warned they could be fined £1,000 for a common mistake in car park due to 200-year-old law

DRIVERS could be fined £1,000 for making one simple mistake in a car park due to a 200-year-old law.

Motorists asking for spare change at a parking meter have been warned they could be committing a crime.

The Vagrancy Act 1824 outlaws rough sleeping or begging, which could include drivers asking for spare change in car parks if they find themselves without the right coins.

Motorists could be punished with £1,000 fine and even face the possibility of a criminal record for '"begging" under the 200-year-old act.

The legislation was repealed in the House of Commons at the start of March, as critics claim the “cruel and archaic” law criminalises the homeless.

However, it could be a while before the law is officially abolished, so drivers should beware.

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Motoring expert Graham Conway, from van leasing company Select Car Leasing, said: “There remain a handful of bizarre laws in this country that have the potential to land drivers in hot water.

“These include having a football team’s flag flying from your vehicle and sleeping in the back seat while drunk.

“But this has to be one of the weirdest. Thankfully, many car park payment machines now offer the option of paying with a debit or credit card.

“There are also a range of mobile phone apps that make covering the cost of leaving your vehicle simple and efficient. But everyone knows of at least one car park that is behind the times and where you can only pay with coins.

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“In fact, I’d wager that the vast majority of motorists still carry some sort of loose change in their console compartments in case they get caught out.”

Yet drivers need to be careful of more than just this ancient law. Previous research by Select Car Leasing found that the number of “dangerous parking” offences has been on the rise.

MS10 enforcement notices are issued by the authorities for “leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position”, which includes blocking a pavement or parking on a blind bend.

The DVLA revealed that 411 of these notices were handed out in 2019, up from only 57 in 2016.

Graham said: “Parking is a longstanding bugbear of many Brits and the situation could be complicated further by an outright nationwide ban on parking on pavements.

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“But while it can be frustrating at times when spaces are at a premium, it’s always worth taking a few extra minutes to make sure you are parked legally and safely.”

The Vagrancy Act was introduced in 1824 when a great number of soldiers returning from the Napoleonic War were left destitute, but it has faced criticism more recently.

Rough Sleeping and Housing Minister Eddie Hughes said: “The Vagrancy Act is outdated and needs replacing, and so I’m delighted to announce the government will repeal it in full.”

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