How Google Maps saved a user from a parking fine

Over the years, Google has packed so much extra functionality into Google Maps, beyond the straightforward mapping component of the app, to now encompass everything from restaurant reviews to details about various transportation options. Navigating from Point A to Point B is still very much at the core of Google Maps though. And, in my opinion, it’s still the best-in-class option across all mobile platforms.

Furthermore, besides the use cases mentioned above, here’s another one to add to the list: Google Maps-related data has even been known to help disentangle users from legal problems.

A novel use for Google Maps

That’s what happened in the UK recently, when a 21-year-old man was parked for longer than allowed at a parking garage. It left him with a £100 parking fine. Which would have been annoying, indeed — but for the fact that, according to an account in the UK’s Daily Mirror, the young man never actually parked where the parking fine alleged he did.

You can probably figure out where this is going. If only he had a verifiable history of his location data over the past several days, proving that he wasn’t actually where the authorities said he was!

The young simply accessed his Google Location History, then sent that data to Premier Park Ltd., the company that charged him. At that point, with the irrefutable data in front of them, they had no choice but to revoke the fine.

“I used my Google location history to hit back against their claims,” the man told the UK paper. “It shows what times and places you have been to and how long you have been driving. I appealed and showed them the evidence and they had no choice but to drop it.”

Google Location History

The young man’s defense only worked, of course, because he had enabled Google Location History.

Here’s how you do that. First, though, you should know that, according to Google, “Location History is turned off by default for your Google Account and can only be turned on if you opt-in.”

Closeup of a young woman holding her mobile phone. Image source: Nick ALDI/Adobe

If you want to turn this feature on, to use with apps like Google Maps? Make sure you’re signed in to your Google account. Then go to the “Location History” section. From there, you’ll choose whether your account or your individual devices can report Location History to Google.

From Google’s guide:

  • Your account and all devices: At the top, turn Location History on or off.
  • Only a certain device: Under “This device” or “Devices on this account,” turn the device on or off.

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