I always feel persecuted when I get a parking ticket. This is so even when I’ve purposely parked in the wrong place or allowed the meter to expire. I just know I’ve been singled out for punishment when I see that envelope under my windshield wiper.
New York City is the only U.S. city in which fewer than half the population owns a car. Still, there are few cities more difficult to park in than New York City. And since NYC is one of the busiest locales in the world, people are always parking illegally. As a result, the city rakes in half a billion dollars in parking tickets every year.
That’s enough cheese to get entrepreneurs in legal technology (or “legaltech”) excited and building solutions. There’s got to be an app for that!
Take, for instance, WinIt, an app you download onto your Android or iOS device. It lets you send a scanned copy of your NYC ticket and pay them only when you win. They use a team of lawyers and former judges to find defects in the tickets and get them dismissed. WinIt charges half the cost of your ticket when they beat it. (The company claims a 50% success rate.) If they lose your case, WinIt offers to forward your payment to the ticket office for a small processing fee.
Of course, you don’t need an app or a lawyer to fight your ticket. You can do it yourself with help from New York Parking Ticket, which walks you through finding ticket defects on your own. Larry Berezin, the retired New Jersey lawyer and founder of New York Parking Ticket, says defects are so common that you should never pay a parking ticket without challenging it.
There are also national options for beating a ticket. You can scan and upload your ticket to BernieSez, and lawyers in your area will bid for your business. ParkingTicket.com is another clearinghouse for lawyers, but it helps you find ticket defects and request dismissal on your own first. Brian LaRoche, a lawyer with ParkingTicket.com, says his arguments in New York City’s traffic courts are so simple that most hearings last only a minute or two.
The beautiful thing about the law is that every claim — even something as simple as a parking ticket — has specific elements that must be met, and a rules-based process that must be followed to collect on the claim. That’s a recipe for a technology solution, and legaltech is taking note. I’ll bet we’re going to see applications for many more legal problems soon.
Have you beat a parking ticket through an app? Or with a hired lawyer? Or did you do it yourself? Share in the comments below.