If you've ever tried contesting a parking ticket or some other traffic citation, you might have come away from the experience thinking the system is rigged and it's futile to argue your case. That's not actually true—you just have to know how to play the game, and if you live in the U.K. or New York, there's a chatbot that can help.
Called DoNotPay, the chatbot is the creation of Joshua Browder, a 19-year-old who taught himself to code when he was just 12 years old. He was motivated to create DoNotPay by having racked up over two dozen parking tickets shortly after receiving his driver's license. He considers DoNotPay "the world's first robot lawyer" and true to form, it's helped motorists beat 160,000 parking tickets in the 21 months since it was released in London and later in New York.
DoNotPay has contested 250,000 tickets in all, so its success rate sits at an impressive 64 percent. That translates into $4 million in parking fines being overturned.
"I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society. These people aren’t looking to break the law. I think they’re being exploited as a revenue source by the local government," Browder told VentureBeat.
There's nothing shady or underhanded going on with DoNotPay. What Browder noticed is that parking fines and the process of challenging a ticket follows a pattern that makes it pretty well suited for an AI chatbot. The way it works is DoNotPay asks users a series of questions, starting with why they think they shouldn't receive a parking ticket. Maybe there were "problems with the signage" or "I was traveling to hospital urgently," to name two of the several excuses.
Once you've selected a reason, there might be a followup question, followed by a form to fill out with your ticket details. DoNotPay then generates an appeal that you can print out and submit to the appropriate court. Some of the reasons for disputing a ticket are based on technicalities, such as a ticket lacking the name of the enforcement authority, which DoNotPay says violates Chapter 4 of Title 34 of the Rules of the City of New York.
Browder plans to expand DoNotPay to Seattle, though this isn't the only chatbot he's focusing on. He's also creating one that will help refugees apply for asylum, along with another to help people with HIV to understand their legal rights.