Aucklanders pay more for infringements and no WoF or rego than parking fees and AA says approach is wrong.
Auckland motorists paid more than $37 million in council fines in the past year.
The money has been netted through fines including out-of-date warrants and registrations, bus lane infringements and parking penalties.
Auckland Transport says the money will go into its general fund to pay for roads and public transport projects.
But the figure has prompted the AA to call for councils around the country to put more emphasis on educating motorists rather than punishing them, such as by following an example set by the police of allowing them up to 14 days to get warrants or registrations renewed.
The fines bill is $37.6 million - up from $36.2 million last year.
That has exceeded the amount paid by motorists in parking fees, which hit $35.2 million (up from $32.7 million).
After covering all its costs, the organisation will be left with a parking operations surplus of $26.8 million.
AA spokesman Mark Stockdale said councils and private parking companies should refocus their efforts to ensure they collected less money from fines than from fees for providing services for motorists.
"Motorists will be suspicious of any parking policy which relies more on income from fines than from the actual service itself, because that leads to accusations of unfairness and quotas," he said.
"In an ideal world they would be budgeting on the income they would earn from compliant motorists and parking fines would be the exception."
Auckland Transport chief operating officer Greg Edmonds denied setting out to sting motorists to boost his organisation's coffers.
"We would rather not be enforcing infringements and if people complied with the rules we wouldn't have to," he said.
"But ultimately, to manage people's behaviour there needs to be an infringement process - that's the way the world is, otherwise people don't behave the way they should."
Auckland Transport's figures, in a report to its board yesterday, show a wide variation between what was budgeted for and what the organisation expects to end up collecting for the 2012-13 year finishing at the end of this week.
A new CBD parking scheme, which has included reduced charges in council-owned parking buildings, is cited as a big reason for a fees forecast of $13 million less than a figure of $48 million budgeted for.
On the other side of the ledger, Auckland Transport is fining motorists $5.8 million more than expected. Mr Edmonds said that was because of a more efficient collection process through the Baycorp agency.
Fines also overshadow parking revenue in centres such as Rotorua, although on a far smaller scale than in Auckland.
Rotorua District Council regulatory services manager Neven Hill said $1.2 million collected in fines since last July - compared with just $221,000 in parking fees - included a long tail of prosecution income from court cases sometimes more than 10 years old.
Hamilton City collected $2.9 million in fines in the year to March and $3.2 million in parking fees.