But the real problem with challenging parking tickets in Milwaukee –and probably many other cities– is the requirement to do so in person before a municipal judge. If this app could figure its way around that 3+ hour barrier … now that would be killer.
"What I always tell people is that the parking regulations aren’t black-and-white," says Hegarty, the co-creator of a shrewd new app that aims to help users wrangle out of parking tickets (seemingly unjust parking tickets, that is). “There’s not like a manual in City Hall that says ‘these are the parking violations.’ Ordinances get passed, statutes get passed.” Regulations pile up on top of each other. They come down from the city and the state. “It’s actually ferociously complicated. Each ordinance has 30 to 40 lines of fine print, written in non-clear legalese.”
The app – simply called Fixed – navigates all that fine print for you, with the help of legal researchers (mostly law students on contract). It’s so far in beta in San Francisco with fewer than 1,000 users. Hegarty and co-creators David Sanghera and DJ Burdick are hoping to have it in the iPhone app store by the end of the month, where it will gradually become available to a wait list of some 25,000 San Franciscans. From there, Fixed is angling to move to other cities, where the idea at its core – leveraging technology to lower the burden of accessing laws and interacting with government – will test public agencies that field these appeals.
Cities, after all, love this kind of innovation when it helps small businesses to apply for a permit, or neighbors to plan a block party. But when it helps drivers outsmart their parking citations?
The app works like this: Users snap a photo of their parking ticket. Based on the type of citation (street cleaning, expired meter, etc.), the app responds with several suggested errors commonly associated with the violation. Was the street cleaning sign visible? Did the parking officer record your VIN number correctly? Was the meter broken? Based on the answers, the app prompts users to collect additional photographic evidence from the scene. Then it compiles a letter contesting the citation. Users digitally sign the document, and Fixed (snail)mails it to the city on their behalf.
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