UK teen creates a website designed to challenge traffic tickets
19-year-old computer programmer Joshua Browder is not like other teenagers. When Joshua (then 18-years-old) got his first traffic ticket he came home and told his mother that he would not pay. Most teenagers in his position would have tossed the ticket in the glove compartment and forget it or ask their parents to take care of it. Well, thankfully for many British people Joshua didn’t think that way. He spent a few days reading up on traffic laws and challenged the ticket himself at the courts.
Joshua’s mother, Melanie Browder recalls when her son Joshua came home how excited he was that he won! He was able to get the traffic ticket dismissed. Over the next year, Joshua would go on to get 30 more traffic tickets in the next 9 months and continue to challenge as many as he could.
Joshua complains that most of his tickets were for very minor mistakes and that was his motivation to continue to fight. As he started to win his appeals on a regular basis friends and family began to notice. Before he knew it, he was preparing appeals for almost everyone he knew. Joshua believed that if it could work for them it could work for everyone.
Traffic ticket laws in the UK are publicly available on government websites. This website developers to create programs that automate tasks that usually a traffic ticket lawyer would handle. These programs are referred to as bots (or robots). After challenging so many tickets in person Joshua decided to create one of these bots that not only he could use, but also would benefit others in similar situations.
Website Design to the Rescue!
With the inspiration and web development ability Joshua decided to create a website designed to automate this process. According to an article on Forbes.com Joshua coded the entire website between the hours of midnight and 3 A.M. His reason? He had schoolwork during the day so it was the only time that worked for him. The lack of distractions at this time and also his drive for a solution to this problem motivated Joshua to complete this job in less than 2 weeks when it normally would have taken over six months for this type of website design. Joshua has said that he still works in the early hours of the morning on new features as it has become his favorite time to code.
With the website finally complete the only thing left for Joshua to do was to choose a name. His mother Melanie provided some great advice (as mothers tend to do) and https://DoNotPay.uk was born. The website is free because originally Joshua wanted to help out friends and those who are less fortunate. He did not have any idea this website would grow as big as it is today. At the moment, the service is limited to the UK and NY but Joshua has received requests from all over the world.
DoNotPay.uk allows motorists who have received a ticket to choose from a list of reasons that can be used in the your defense. The website asks a series of questions to try and determine if there is a reason for that would make your ticket invalid. If so a correctly formatted appeal letter is created and then sent to the court with the citation. Joshua claims that there is currently a 40% success rate and that he has saved over 2000 drivers more than 2 million pounds in penalties and fines.
Joshua insists that he is not attempting to get people out of legitimate tickets but rather those that are unjustified. In most places, there seems to be a policy of issuing a ticket and worrying about how valid it is later. Sadly, most people do not know that a traffic ticket lawyer or website like DoNotPay.uk can save them tons of cash. Another case of how what you do not know CAN hurt you!
There are no official numbers but it is easy to see how cities are making hundreds of millions of dollars from people paying unjustified traffic citations. That will most likely not change anytime soon but people like Joshua are doing their best to shed light on this. Even more heartbreaking is the knowledge that the disabled and the elderly are among the groups most likely to get a traffic citation and least likely to fight it.
Here are 5 of the top reasons Joshua’s robots are able to get tickets dismissed
- No Clear sign traffic restriction such as speed or parking. This would make it unjustifiably difficult to abide by the traffic law.
- Details missing from the ticket. Such as vehicle type, color, date & time, even website address. All required field must be completed for a ticket to be valid.
- Medical Emergency – This is not a legal requirement but if you can prove that you had a medical emergency many areas will have “mercy” on you and dismiss the traffic ticket.
- If the violation took place after your owned the vehicle that it can be dismissed. The same is true for violations that took place before you took ownership of the vehicle. This mainly refers to non-moving violations.
- If you rent or lease your vehicle out and get a ticket during that period you get that dismissed in most cases. Violations that take place while your vehicle is leased or rented are the responsibility of the party who is leasing or renting the vehicle.
Joshua is currently studying Computer Engineering at the University of Stanford here in the US. Stanford receives more than 40,000 applicants from all over the world but only have 1800 spots for incoming freshmen each year. The university was so impressed with him that he received and early offer and has not looked back since.
Joshua is clearly a smart kid. However, 30 tickets in 9 months is a bit excessive even for a teenager. Nonetheless, we are rooting for Joshua and everyone else out there who are working to even the scales against fraudulent tickets. Let’s just hope that a bureaucrat does not come around and figure out a way to make Joshua’s service illegal. The main fear comes from the areas receiving appeal letters from DoNotPay.uk realizing that they all look very similar and being suspicious. The current law in the UK requires courts to respond to an appeal within 28 days so Joshua says that his appeals are based on facts and there is nothing the court will be able to do to combat this.
The success of DoNotPay.uk is not slowing down Joshua. He is currently working on adding additional services that protect people who have been wronged and owe money. For example, there is an EU law that says consumers can reclaim money if their flights have been delayed. There are already a few companies that help you do this but they charge a 25% commission. Joshua wants to do this for free.
Today the internet is so powerful that it evens the playing field so that the little guy (your & me) can have as much power as the big guy (governments and big corporations). Are you interested in more of these services emerging and evening the playing field?