Heroes

His 'robot lawyer' has helped people beat 160,000 parking tickets. Here's what's next.

His free service has saved people millions of dollars, and he's just getting started.

His 'robot lawyer' has helped people beat 160,000 parking tickets. Here's what's next.

When he was 18, Joshua Browder had a reputation for getting parking tickets. Lots of parking tickets.

Unable to pay the ever-mounting fines, Browder got really good at challenging them. He became a kind of local expert in the art of appealing tickets, helping friends and family work their way out of the occasional citation.


Photo courtesy of Joshua Browder.

This gave him an idea.

Browder created DoNotPay, a bot designed to make the process of appealing parking tickets easy — and automated.

The chat bot asks the user a series of questions aimed at determining whether they have a legitimate gripe with the ticket. For example, it might ask whether there were any "No Parking" signs present at the location.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Browder.

"I thought a really cool side project would be to create this chat bot just to kind of show off to my friends at school," he tells Upworthy.

The free service took off.

What began as a fun project to show friends and family caught the attention of international media outlets, though the bot is currently only available to drivers in New York and London (and soon, Seattle).

To date, DoNotPay has helped drivers save more than $4 million by successfully appealing more than 160,000 tickets.

Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

Browder has done what so many inventors only dream of: He created technology that genuinely improves the lives of its users. — specifically, low-income users.

An April 2016 study looked at the challenges facing drivers and found that a single unpaid ticket could snowball into a nearly insurmountable fine for low-income individuals.

DoNotPay might change all that.

Photo by iStock.

Someone who might not be able to afford the cost of a ticket at the time it's handed down could face penalties and late fees until the sum is several times the original.

"For a person who's very low income, who may be unemployed, who may be living on public assistance, on SSI because of a disability or because they are elderly, they can't afford these payments," report co-author and senior attorney with the Western Center on Law and Poverty Antionette Dozier told KPCC News.

Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images.

DoNotPay could help low-income drivers who can't afford a lawyer to challenge a ticket on their behalf the ability to successfully appeal it on their own, putting an end to this cycle.

Browder's goal reaches beyond traffic tickets. He's working on a feature to help refugees navigate foreign legal systems.

In a new country, many refugees may not be up to date on laws or what rights they have when it comes to receiving a fair trial. Browder's vision involves a version of the bot that can understand both Arabic and English, providing users with answers to basic legal questions.

The bot is obviously more affordable and accessible than hiring a lawyer, and, to a refugee who might not have much money, it could be a lifesaver.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Additionally, Browder is working on a feature that would help air travelers seek reimbursement for late flights and another that would help HIV-positive individuals navigate disclosure laws and procedures.

It's Browder's hope that these technological advances will help make life more efficient and more fair to all people.

"I think that not just in law, but in so many aspects, technology can provide services for free, and at that point, the economically disadvantaged can gain access to things they previously hadn't been able to gain access to," Browder says, citing the government as a particularly bureaucratic and historically inefficient system.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Browder.

As for the money that cities are counting on collecting from parking tickets, it looks like they'll be OK after all. In 2015, New York City collected $1.9 billion in fines and fees.

Ensuring that a few million dollars in erroneously issued tickets don't go to collections doesn't seem to be a huge problem.

You can learn more about DoNotPay on its website. For updates on his work, you can follow Browder on Twitter.

True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Brittany Kinley / Facebook

Brittany Kinley, a mother from Mansfield, Texas, had a hilarious mom fail her and she's chalking it up to being just another crazy thing that happened in 2020.

When Kinley filled out the order form for her son Mason's kindergarten class pictures, there was an option to have his name engraved into the photos. But Kinley wasn't interested in having her son's name on the photos so she wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" on the box.

Well, it appears as though she should have left the box blank because the computer or incredibly literal human that designed the photographs wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" where mason's name should be.

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

Keep Reading Show less
via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

Keep Reading Show less