How to fight parking tickets in the age of the app

January 9, 2014

Last month, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), which oversees public transit for the Greater Boston area, mailed more than 27,000 notices to motorists for violations that stretched as far back as 2010.

Typically, additional fees are tacked onto parking fines unpaid within the official window of time. If the ticket isn’t paid within 21 days, the MBTA adds $20 to the total; the Registry of Motor Vehicles receives an additional $20 payment on top of that.

Alewife parking lot

Some motorists who use MBTA stops recently received unpleasant reminders of infractions long past. From redjar.

In what may have been a gesture of holiday goodwill, the MBTA offered, however, a 30-day amnesty period. The additional $20 to $40 in fines would be waived if motorists simply paid the $4 parking ticket and the $1 fine that accompanies it within the given 30-day period.

Despite the extension, drivers were predictably unhappy. “Is the agency that runs the parking lots allowed to go back several years and pick random dates to issue violation notices?” asked one man whose alleged offenses ran between December 2010 and July 2012.

MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo contends that all violators received original notification of their outstanding fines. “This letter is not the first notification for violators,” he said to the media, adding that the MBTA has voided some of the tickets it issued more than two years ago.

As of December 22, 2013, the MBTA had received roughly 3,000 appeals or a little more than 10 percent. As it turns out, many of the tactics used by appellants relied on digital verification like apps.

1. Don’t hit “delete” just yet

A sanitized email inbox is a tempting goal at the start of the year, but keeping official emails may help you save money and hassle down the road. According to one Massachusetts resident, she received an email from LAZ Parking, the company that manages the lot she uses during her commutes to Boston, saying that they would remove record of her violation after she was able to show them a copy of the check she wrote to pay the fine.

2. Apps to the rescue

Smartphone app Parkmobile might consider a superhero cape as its logo. One Massachusetts resident said his app was able to show that he had paid for parking on five of the six days for which he’d been cited. Drivers overwhelmed by ballooning email inboxes or paper copies of anything might consider downloading apps such as PayByPhone, Parkmobile, or MobileNOW! so that all parking payment info is one spot.

3. Your word against theirs

It’s likely that any organization that motorists beef with (like the local DOT) maintains digital records. So do drivers, but in the case of parking agencies, disputes often begin with paper parking tickets tucked under windshields. Can the agency provide a copy of the ticket prompting the violation notice? It’s a fair question to ask when organizations such as the MBTA reach back into violation records more than two years old.

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Category: Parking Tech, Regulations

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