Chatbot Helps Drivers Appeal Over $4 Million In Bogus Parking Tickets

from the the-revolution-will-be-automated dept

In what is likely a sign of the coming government-rent-seeking apocalypse, a 19-year-old Stanford student from the UK has created a bot that assists users in challenging parking tickets. The inevitable result of parking nearly anywhere can now be handled with something other than a) meekly paying the fine or b) throwing them away until a bench warrant is issued.

While a variety of bots have been created to handle a variety of tasks, very few have handled them quite as well as Joshua Browder's "robot lawyer" -- which is certain to draw some attention from disgruntled government agencies who are seeing this revenue stream drying up.

In the 21 months since the free service was launched in London and now New York, Browder says DoNotPay has taken on 250,000 cases and won 160,000, giving it a success rate of 64% appealing over $4m of parking tickets.

Fighting parking tickets is a good place to start, considering most people aren't looking to retain representation when faced with questionable tickets. The route to a successful challenge isn't always straightforward, so it's obviously beneficial to have some guidance in this area -- especially guidance that can determine from a set of pre-generated questions where the flaw in the issued ticket might lie.

Anyone looking for an expansion of chatbots into trickier areas of criminal law are probably going to need to rein in their enthusiasm. There's not much at stake individually in challenging a traffic ticket. The 36% who haven't seen a successful appeal are no worse off than they were in the first place. But it's still better than simply assuming that paying the fine is the only option, especially when the ticket appears to be bogus.

Browder has plans for similar bot-based legal guidance in the future.

Browder’s next challenge for the AI lawyer is helping people with flight delay compensation, as well as helping the HIV positive understand their rights and acting as a guide for refugees navigating foreign legal systems.

The fight against airlines should prove interesting. Generally speaking, most airlines aren't willing to exchange their money for people's time, especially when the situation creating the delay is out of their hands -- which seems to be every situation, whether it's a snowstorm or a passenger confusing math with terrorism. But, if it proves as successful as Browder's first AI assistant, more grumbling from those whose business model has just been interfered with is on the way.


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  • identicon
    Beech, 1 Jul 2016 @ 2:28pm

    "probably going to need to rein in their enthusiasm."

    This is what bothers me the most. I NEVER know when to use rein vs reign. They're spelled very similarly and have a similar meaning (reining over someone is being the boss of them, reigning in a horse is bossing it around). If I had to guess, I'd say Tim's use is incorrect here, but I'm not sure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      TechDescartes (profile), 1 Jul 2016 @ 3:10pm

      Re: Type O

      Tim is correct. You have it exactly backwards.

      http://thedoghousediaries.com/302

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      citizen, 1 Jul 2016 @ 3:13pm

      Re: Reign

      I'm sorry but this is drivel.
      The word "reign" refers to a monarch whereas the word
      "rein" refers to the leather straps the rider of a horse
      uses to control the bit. Tim's metaphorical use of
      "rein" is perfectly appropriate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Blargle Flargle, 2 Jul 2016 @ 2:49am

        Re: Re: Reign

        "I'm sorry but this is drivel."

        Why be sorry, I thought you did a first-class job of stomping on Beech's head. Myself, I thought that Beech was expressing doubt (not drivel) and was hinting at a possible etymological link between the two words. But then what do I know.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jul 2016 @ 2:39pm

    "The 36% who haven't seen a successful appeal are no worse off than they were in the first place."

    Unfortuneately that's not a valid assumption. Where I live there is a $250 court fee if you choose to go to traffic court. The fee is waived if you just pay the fine, which is often less than $250. If you beat the fine you don't pay the ticket or the court fee. Police typically include a second subjective violation to a ticket like "following to closely" so that even if you successfully challenge the first violation, you wind up paying the court fee and a smaller fine. I'd be willing to bet my town isn't the only one that plays this game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jul 2016 @ 4:13pm

      Re:

      Wow, following too closely for a parking ticket... now that would be some report to read.

      Officer: I observed the Ford navigator parked along side of main street, it was only 4 feet from the non-moving Chevy Impala in front of it, so obviously I had to write it a ticket for following too closely.
      Judge: How do you know the Ford wasn't there when the Chevy backed into the parking spot in front of it?
      Officer: You are right Judge, I should have issued the Chevy a ticket for backing up too closely as well, double fines are definitely the way to stop these parked cars from following too closely to one another...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      wayout, 4 Jul 2016 @ 7:18am

      Re:

      This is a parking ticket, not a moving violation...unless there is something really wrong with the vehicle, gonna be kind of hard to argue why they issued a moving violation to a parked car....dont you think

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Pangolin (profile), 1 Jul 2016 @ 3:12pm

    Flight Delay Compensation

    I don't see much success here. Airlines do not HAVE to offer any compensation at any time. Airlines are NOT in the business of moving people. Their product is TICKETS. It doesn't matter what happens after you buy your ticket! The only reason to offer comensation is to retain the customer for future flights. More customers fighting for this isn't going to help things nor is it likely to succeed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PRMan (profile), 1 Jul 2016 @ 6:07pm

      Re: Flight Delay Compensation

      Airlines are REQUIRED BY LAW to issue partial refunds for many situations, such as overbooking, mechanical delays, etc. But they will blame the weather, etc. so that they don't have to pay out even when required to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jul 2016 @ 3:52pm

    pics or it didn't happen

    Can you show some examples of how the software works?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 1 Jul 2016 @ 7:22pm

    Four million down the drain...

    I really hope the programmer doesn't live in, or never plans on visiting NYC, as I suspect there would be more than a few disgruntled city employees that would throw every single possible 'traffic violation' at them in retaliation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Blargle Flargle, 2 Jul 2016 @ 3:05am

      Re: Four million down the drain...

      He's right though, fines like this are a revenue stream for far too many authorities. But on the flip-side, there's http://youparklikeacunt.com/ where you can really feel the anger.

      As for New York, I'd never ever even think of driving there. Definitely not Manhattan, it's bonkers. Shoe-leather and taxis for me. Let's see them fine that..!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jul 2016 @ 8:39pm

    How long before the local area makes the app illegal for "safety" reasons I wonder

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 4 Jul 2016 @ 6:31am

    Ah, this could explain a few things. Who would have thought lawyers are actually bots!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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