Up to 50 percent of parking tickets are dismissed when fought in court, but it takes knowledge and time to do it. New app Fixed will do it for you. Take a photo of your ticket, Fixed contests it, and if it’s dismissed, you pay Fixed 25 percent of the ticket price. If Fixed loses, you pay it nothing, so there’s nothing to lose. Fixed just launched in San Francisco, but wants to fight tickets nationwide.
David Hegarty started Fixed after paying four parking tickets one morning only to come to his car and find two more. “The tickets were complete bullshit, and I knew they had been erroneously issued,” he tells me.
Sure, you could say he should have been more careful/not parked like an idiot. But in many cities, and especially San Francisco, parking rules are very complicated. Even if you manage to follow them all, the police and meter maids screw up sometimes too and wrongly give you a ticket.
So Hegarty did the research, figured out how to contest parking tickets, and submitted appeals on his two new tickets. He got both dismissed, so he started contesting all his tickets and frequently won. Soon he realized he wasn’t the only one sick of parking tickets, so he created Fixed with David Sanghera and DJ Burdick.
Here’s how it works:
- Sign-up for Fixed (currently in a small beta trial in San Francisco) and enter your credit card details.
- Come back to your car, find a parking ticket you think was unfairly issued, take a photo of it with Fixed, and type in the violation number.
- Fixed looks up the violation type, tells you the probability of getting that type dismissed, and prompts you to take photos as evidence.
- If the ticket is for street cleaning, you might be prompted to take a photo of a missing street cleaning times sign. If it’s a “red curb” violation, you might be asked to photograph the faded curb paint. Fixed supplements the evidence with data like when the curb was supposed to be repainted, or whether the street was actually steep enough to warrant a “wheels not curbed” ticket.
- Fixed prepares a “contest letter” to fight the ticket, has you digitally sign it, mails it on your behalf, and takes care of all correspondence with the court.
- If Fixed gets your ticket dismissed, you pay it 25 percent of what the ticket would have cost. If it loses, you pay the ticket like normal but pay Fixed nothing.
The idea was so popular that Fixed filled up its early beta group in SF almost as soon as it launched its site, but you can sign up for the waiting list now.
For now, Fixed is bootstrapped, but it may need to raise money to expand its team to match demand for the service. It says San Francisco alone issues about $100 million worth of parking tickets a year, and estimates the US as a whole doles out over $3 billion in tickets. That’s a lucrative market that could help it raise venture capital to bring its ticket-fighting app across the country. And one day, it hopes to expand into contesting traffic tickets and moving violations.
In the meantime, it will have to compete with clumsier web-based services Parkingticket.com and ParkingTicketGuys. Scaling will be a serious challenge, and the company could run into trouble dealing with city governments. “They’ve seen parking fines as a cash cow that they milked from motorists,” Hegarty says. “If we start helping the motorist fight back, we don’t know how they’ll react.” Hopefully local governments would just nuke Fixed with some law like “only you and your lawyer may contest tickets on your behalf.”
Now, there’s an argument to be made that fighting parking tickets just takes money from the community. Ticket revenue can go to pay for important local infrastructure, and a lot of tickets are designed to prevent people from unsafely parking, obstructing other cars, or endlessly squatting on spots. And sending frivolous contest letters could slow down the whole legal system.
But still, I agree with Hegarty that it sometimes feels like city governments are unfairly sucking blood from people who can’t afford garages or private car services like Uber. $64 tickets (in SF) for not re-parking your car at 6 a.m. every other day seems a bit outrageous. If cities want to hammer people with expensive tickets, they should have to make parking rules clear and enforce them fairly. If they don’t, Hegarty says Fixed is “here to restore a little bit of justice to your day.”