Want to fight a traffic ticket with your phone? Lawyers want to stop you

A Coral Gables tech startup launched a service that offered drivers an easy way to get their minor traffic tickets dismissed with less hassle – and no points on their record. Just upload the ticket through its web app, founder and CEO Christopher Riley said, and TIKD would take it from there. But a brick-and-mortar competitor claims that TIKD has run a legal red light. The Florida Bar is in the early stages of a lengthy process that possibly could put the brakes on the app in Florida. The charge: that TIKD is practicing law without a license. TIKD says it’s not practicing law in disclaimers on its website, but the Florida Bar isn’t so sure. It is considering whether to go forward with litigation against the startup, which is not owned or run by lawyers. Ted Hollander, an attorney with The Ticket Clinic, filed the initial Florida Bar complaint on the heels of dueling lawsuits between TIKD and the Ticket Clinic that were settled and withdrawn. TIKD had claimed Ticket Clinic was obstructing its business by threatening lawyers; Ticket Clinic, a 30-year-old law firm that specializes in traffic tickets and has offices across the state, said TIKD was violating Florida Bar rules and misleading consumers. The Florida Bar is exploring the matter. First, a standing committee within the Bar needs to approve proceeding with the litigation, a process that could take months, said Jacquelyn Plasner Needelman, counsel for the the Florida Bar’s Unlicensed Practice of Law Department. If approved, a petition could then be filed in the Florida Supreme Court by the Florida Bar. The case could be resolved or could go to trial; there are a lot of unknowns. “This is at the beginning of the process,” she said. “The process takes time, but I am confident that the Bar will take the necessary steps to end this service. The Bar rules are in place to protect the public and to entrust licensed attorneys with ethical and moral responsibility,” Hollander said. In the meantime, for consumers who like the idea of using technology to help rid their life of a traffic ticket, TIKD is open for business as usual, said Riley. TIKD charges the consumer a fee of 15 to 30 percent below the ticket fine and uses a network of vetted independent lawyers to handle the ticket cases; if the driver loses, TIKD will pay the fines and refund the fees, it says. As for the long term, the jury is still out as the Florida Bar explores the situation. Riley said he has assembled a legal team to fight, if it comes to that. “This product helps people and is not a violation,” he said. More than 3,000 consumers have used the service since it launched in the Miami area early this year, according to TIKD. Along with markets around Florida, including Orlando and the Tampa Bay area, TIKD recently launched in Atlanta and the Baltimore/Washington metro areas.

About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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