For too long, fighting a parking ticket in the city of Pittsburgh could be such a nuisance that paying the fine was less annoying than contesting it, even for motorists who thought they'd been unjustly cited.
That's about to change for the better.
Starting on Oct. 1, it will be possible to challenge the validity of a parking ticket without making a trip Downtown to Pittsburgh Parking Court and waiting for a hearing along with a roomful of other alleged miscreants.
David Onorato, executive director of the parking authority, announced last week that a website will be launched that will allow drivers to contest their tickets online. They will be able to fill out a form explaining why they believe the ticket was unfair and attach photographs to help make the case. Once submitted, a district judge will review the material and make a decision, which then will be both emailed and sent in the mail three to four weeks later.
The authority saw a jump in the number of people contesting their tickets after it replaced old, individual meters with new parking kiosks. Because the new devices require drivers to enter their license plate numbers, lots of patrons who had made mistakes on the numbers received tickets despite paying the proper amount for parking.
Although the authority revamped its system to give parkers a break if they transpose two characters or omit one, the online appeal system is necessary, too.
Not everyone who gets a parking ticket is a regular visitor to Downtown, so the trip in can be inconvenient. Some cited motorists live far away, but they shouldn't have to travel back to Pittsburgh to challenge a violation. And people rightly have come to expect convenient service via computer. It is possible to pay a parking ticket online, and this innovation is just as much a necessity in the 21st century.
Nobody wants to get a ticket, but at least fighting one won't be such a hassle in the future.