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O’s vs zeros: Westmount parking system fines woman three times for alphabetic mistake

Posted by on 21/11/2018

UPDATE: Kassandra wrote to Global News Friday to say her impending tickets had been cancelled.

WESTMOUNT  – Kassandra Jordan can’t believe she received three parking tickets from the City of Westmount, after she accidentally typed in her number plate incorrectly.

“Why wasn’t the app advising me that I was using an invalid plate?” she asked.

“Instead of letting me pay for parking and then ticketing me a few minutes later?”

ChangSha Night Net

She attributes the issue to a new parking system implemented by Westmount earlier this year.

“It’s a bit of a cash grab,” Jordan said.

“I mean three tickets in 10 days.”

In May, Westmount switched over to a pay-by-plate parking system, which eliminates defined spaces and has a street area that motorists can park on.

Their licence plate then becomes a unique identifier.

In Jordan’s case, the issue is an apparent mix up between the letter “O” and the number zero on her licence plate.

She plugged in the wrong data and ended up with infractions.

“It’s not obvious to me that there is a difference between the letter “O” and the number zero,” she said.

An NDG resident believes a new parking system in Westmount has caused her to receive three tickets in 10 days, Tuesday, July 12, 2016.

Eric Cohen / Global News

According to the SAAQ, the letter “O” never appears on licence plates in Quebec, but zeros do.

Avi Levy, a lawyer with Ticket911, explained it’s an uphill battle to fight parking tickets, even if the mistake is not on the part of the motorist.

“Parking tickets right now are of absolute liability,” Levy said.

“There is very little defence, other than a defence of necessity or a defence of impossibility.”

He believes that in court, her case would be a coin toss.

“The way it is, it doesn’t seem that much in her favour, but it’s slowly changing because of a recent ruling in Superior Court on a similar issue,” Levy said.

Westmount city councillor, Philip Cutler, said the Westmount parking app does use adaptive technology.

“The technology companies who have created this kind of pay-by-plate parking have worked towards eliminating this type of confusion between a zero and an O,” he said.

However, he admits there are always bugs when introducing new technology.

“It is an inconvenience, obviously,” he said.

“We’re not trying to ticket people who don’t deserve tickets. The goal is to make this as convenient as possible.”

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