Just two months ago, we noted a recent innovation in some courts: contesting traffic tickets by mail. This is another way courts make it easier for the public to do business. For hundreds of years, every interaction with the court system required the physical presence in the courtroom of all parties involved. In just the past few years we have noted the rise of electronic filing for attorneys and then for the rest of us; telephonic appearances; video depositions; online traffic, red light camera, and parking ticket payment; and other ways of interacting with the justice system without being present in person. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before court could be held online.
In a very limited way, that time is here. The District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles allows online contests of parking and red light camera tickets. The process begins with an online request form, which also allows submission of supporting documents. The decision can be delivered the same day via e-mail if you set up an account; otherwise, it’s delivered by regular mail. The decision can be appealed.
New York City has recently added online contests of parking, red light camera, and bus lane camera tickets. As in D.C., the defendant submits an online hearing request form, including supporting evidence such as photographs and documents. The judge’s decision is delivered by e-mail. At the end of 2012, D.C. and New York City were the only jurisdictions that allowed online contests of anything other than parking tickets.
In Virginia, the City of Alexandria allows online parking ticket hearings by video or telephone conference; results of the hearing are delivered by mail, and may be appealed to General District Court. So far, this is the only jurisdiction that provides an online video conference option. In other jurisdictions, the decision is based on the evidence submitted at the time of the online submission. In most jurisdictions, documents and photographs may be attached to support the statement in the online submission. Some examples include:
- California cities of Bellflower, Lafayette, Maywood, and Santa Paula participate in an online system on which users can check the status of their ticket, request an online review, or submit an online request for an in-person administrative hearing to appeal the results of the review. Additional documentation can be submitted online for both the online review and the appeal hearing request.
- The City of Los Angeles allows online initial review, but without the option to submit additional documentation online. Online requests may be submitted for an in-person administrative appeal, and further appeals can be made to Superior Court.
- The City of Philadelphia allows online ticket contests, and supporting documentation can be included. Results of the hearing are delivered by mail, and may be appealed.
- The City of Houston, TX allows online ticket contests with supporting documentation, but an online account must be created and the decision is final.
- The City of Cambridge, MA allows online ticket contests with supporting documentation and the ability to view photographs of the offense.
The city of Stockton, CA has announced plans to implement online parking ticket contests. As with any innovation that makes life easier, more are sure to follow. Check CourtReference to see if you can fight a parking ticket in your city.