NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Is there a worse feeling than coming out to find your car has a ticket on it?
New York City makes about $550 million a year collecting parking fines and our reporter Mike Sugerman was supposed to pay some of that when he recently found a ticket tucked under his windshield wiper, but he decided to fight back. In this week's Sweet Spot, he tells us how.
Sugerman was issued a $115 parking ticket for allegedly parking too close to a fire hydrant. The law allows you to park 15 feet from a fire hydrant, which he's fully aware of. The ticket claimed the car was parked 9 feet from the hydrant, but Sugerman measured by walking it off step-by-step (hey, it's called for foot for a reason) and discovered he was within the legal distance.
He decided to fight the ticket with the help of Christian Fama, co-owner of the app WINIT. In a Staten Island office, Fama has a staff of people on duty to do what they can to help you fight.
"We have a number of retired police officers that work here reviewing and preparing all the tickets. They used to be ticket writers. We have a number of retired parking ticket judges that defend the tickets at court," Fama said.
If they win, you pay them half of what the penalty would have been. If they lose, you don't pay them anything. They have a 25 percent success rate. It's higher for their many commercial customers.
"My advice is to always fight it," Fama said.
For one thing, there are about 20 pieces of information on the ticket -- date, time, location, etc. -- and if any of it is wrong, the ticket is invalid.
"Part of how we have such a great success rate is we know all these little things that are required," Fama said.
So why turn to WINIT when you could just head over to court yourself?
"You could do it yourself but it's like anything else. You could do your own taxes but if you're not an accountant I wouldn't recommend it," Fama said.
So Sugerman used the app, and Christian and team are on the job. Did they win? We're still waiting to find out. We'll keep you updated!