Beating those parking tickets, one click at a time

New Yorkers are using mobile apps like WinIt and NYC Parking Ticket Pay or Dispute to fight parking tickets. (Photo: Hayley FitzPatrick)

Some New Yorkers are turning to mobile apps to simplify the process of fighting parking tickets.

WinIt, a mobile app launched in June 2015, has processed over 320,000 tickets and gotten over $6 million of parking tickets dismissed, according to its co-owner Christian Fama. Drivers who want to take their chances in fighting a ticket can use an app the city unveiled in April, NYC Parking Ticket Pay or Dispute, which enables users to resolve tickets through their smartphones.

After WinIt users upload a photo of their ticket directly to the app, the company’s legal experts, who include ‘retired police officers and judges,’ examine the ticket. If they get the ticket dismissed, the user pays WinIt half of what the ticket would have cost. If WinIt is not successful, users can pay for the ticket through the app with no extra charge.

Alex Wall, a marketing director who lives in Brooklyn, has used WinIt to fight more than a dozen parking tickets in the past 18 months. She believes that price is fair. “It’s a hassle to go to the hearing and make your case,” she said. “I’d rather save some money than none, and the ticket’s already been issued; I can’t change that.”

Fighting a ticket can be a lengthy process. Those who have been ticketed have 30 days from the date of the ticket to request a hearing. An in-person hearing triggers an immediate decision from the judge. Drivers who protest a ticket by mail, through the app, or online may wait up to 75 days before hearing back from the judge.

Wall has used the app for parking tickets she’s received ranging in price from $35 to $115. She estimates that a third of her tickets have been dismissed, but isn’t sure of the reason for dismissal, as the app doesn’t tell her. Parking tickets in New York City can cost up to $500, depending on the violation.

Fama says his service can provide clarity for people flummoxed by the system. “It’s very difficult for someone to get their ticket dismissed if they don’t know how to prepare the proper defense,” he said in a phone interview.

WinIt deals with parking and traffic tickets issued within the 5 boroughs of New York City. The app receives a 4.6 out of 5 rating on the Apple Store, based on 16 reviews. The city hasn’t provided figures on usage of the ‘NYC Parking Ticket Pay or Dispute’ app.

Wall found out about WinIt after receiving a parking ticket in Williamsburg on 8th and Roebling. “I knew the grounds of the ticket were gray, at best,” she said. “I was pretty sure that I was technically in the right, so I was Googling how to fight the ticket, and I saw an ad or an article for WinIt.”

The city has recently faced accusations of parking-enforcement abuses.

A class action lawsuit was filed in August 2017 against the New York City Department of Transportation and the NYPD for fining drivers for invalid muni meter tickets. In 2016, a data analyst from I Quant NY also determined that the city issued millions in fees for drivers legally parking in front of curb cuts.