Philly lawmakers offer plan to allow fighting traffic tickets online

A new proposal in Philadelphia City Council could save many people a trip downtown to fight a parking ticket.

Councilmen Bill Green and Bobby Henon have proposed bills to allow parking tickets to be contested via the web, email, mail or fax.

Green says the goal is to make it easier to fight a violation.

“For a lot of citizens, it costs more in time and money to appeal a ticket than it does for them to just pay it,” he said Thursday. “And so this will give people an opportunity to defend themselves, stick up for themselves and not lose time and money as a result of the effort.”

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Reaction from those heading into the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication to contest tickets was decidedly positive.

Matt Eisenberg said he traveled from Langhorne in Bucks County with his sons Ari and Enzo.

“I’ve have two kids with me — one is 3 and one is 11 months old,” he said. “It’s kind of a madhouse in there, and things take a long time, and it would just be much more convenient to do it over the Internet — absolutely. They could nap, and I could take care of it, and that would be that.”

West Philadelphia resident Sean Taylor, who works the night shift, said he does what many people do — just pay the ticket.

“I work 10 to 6, and I got off work at 6 o’clock,” he said. “Sometimes, I just feel like paying the ticket even though I didn’t do it.”

Carolyn Townes Warren of Olney, however, says she would not challenge tickets online.

“It’s always better in person,” she said. “You go down here in person and you look the person square in the face and plead your case. I win some, I lose some. It’s still a good fight though.”

The two proposed laws also address license and inspection violations and other tickets, such as those issued for putting trash out too early.

Boston, San Diego, New York and other major cities already have successfully implemented similar programs. In some cases, an in-person hearing could be necessary, but the bill also provides for over-the-phone question-and-answer sessions with the hearing examiner.

While the bills haven’t had a hearing yet, Green says he has a good feeling they will be approved.

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