I fought the law, and my app won.  Here is my story.

For many years now, there have been systems in place in many cities allowing you to pay for a parking spot using an iPhone app.  I live in New Orleans, and the system that we use here is called ParkMobile, which operates in 350 cities in the United States.  It is convenient that you can pay for a parking spot before you even leave your car, it is helpful to see how much time you have on the meter even when you are far away from your car, and perhaps best of all, you can add more time to the parking meter no matter where you are.  There have been multiple times when I have been in a deposition or a meeting which ran long and I was able to quickly add more time to the meter without having to go all the way back to my car.  The system works so well that it has almost seemed too easy, making me wonder if simply using the app really would protect me from getting a parking ticket.

On September 25, 2018, I met my wife for lunch at a great restaurant called The Rum House on Magazine Street (a street with tons of fantastic restaurants and shops) and I parked between Seventh and Eighth Streets, right in front of a place called Sucré — which, by the way, makes amazing chocolates, macarons, and other sweets which are available for mail order.  I used the ParkMobile app to pay for parking for 46 minutes ($1.55 plus a $0.35 transaction fee), knowing that if I needed more time than that I could add it from the restaurant.  When lunch was over, it was raining, but I got back to my car with about three minutes left on my parking.  I jumped in the car, turned on the windshield wipers, and then saw underneath a wiper an orange parking ticket envelope with a ticket inside.  Ugh!

I opened up the ParkMobile app, and I saw that I still had about a minute left before my parking would expire.  So I took a screenshot, just in case that might help down the road.

In retrospect, what I wish I had also done was get out of the car and take a picture of my car and the surroundings to show where I was parked (even though I would have gotten pretty wet doing so in the rain), but at the time I didn’t realize that would become relevant.  I did, however, take a screenshot of the part of the ParkMobile app that shows that I paid to park in that zone during that time period.  (The black box is where I redacted my vehicle license for this post.)

After I returned to my office, I took a closer look at the ticket and I figured out what happened.  The ticket was issued at 12:50 p.m., which was during my parking time of 12:22 to 1:08 p.m., so that wasn’t the problem.  However, the officer who issued me the ticket apparently checked to see whether I had paid using the ParkMobile app, but by mistake thought that I was parked in 2900 block of Magazine, which is parking zone 29216.  In fact, I was actually on the 3000 block of Magazine Street, which is zone 29217.

New Orleans has a system which allows you to contest a ticket online rather than show up in court.  I had never used the system before, but it was pretty easy to use.  You just fill out a form, explain what happened, and upload any exhibits you want to submit.  I sent the above screenshot pictures, and I also took a screenshot of a part of the ParkMobile website further confirming that I paid.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have proof that I was parked in the 3000 block — again, I wish I had taken a picture — but I figured that even if the judge didn’t believe me on where I parked, it might help if the judge could see that I had indeed paid to park during the time period that I got the ticket.

After I contested my ticket online, I received an email saying that I would get a decision within five weeks.

Almost exactly five weeks later,…

Read the full article on iphonejd.com.