Maryland woman fights D.C. tickets after Md. MVA glitch

Here is the letter sent to Brenda Ruby from the Motor Vehicle Administration. (Courtesy of Brenda Ruby)

WASHINGTON – A Maryland woman is fighting two D.C. tickets she received after a computer glitch at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration led to her license plates being decommissioned last August.

Brenda Ruby, of Montgomery County, Md., received two tickets for failure to display current tags on Feb. 20 and Feb. 22 on the 4800 block of V Street NW. But Ruby was confused about why her Subaru received the tickets.

Her tags were expired when a Department of Public Works employee wrote the tickets, but she didn’t know because the glitch meant a renewal notice was never sent about her tags expiring in January.

“Someone apparently returned a tag similar to mine. They incorrectly entered the tag and as of August of last year, my plates were decommissioned,” she says.

The MVA wrote a letter to explain the situation that Ruby provided to WTOP. WTOP verified the letter’s authenticity with a MVA spokesperson.

“It appears as though a glitch occurred in our system causing the tags to be deleted from the record in error. There has been continuous registration and no outstanding violations or suspensions for this vehicle,” the letter says.

A MVA spokesperson says the glitch is exceedingly rare, but does happen.

Ruby requested both tickets be waived, citing the MVA letter admitting fault. She says she sent that package on March 7. Ruby provided WTOP with a tracking number that shows the U.S. Postal Service delivered it to a P.O. Box that matches one for DMV Adjudication in D.C. at 6:02 a.m. March 8.

“I kept waiting, waiting and waiting,” says Ruby. “At the beginning of April, I receive word that my tickets have doubled. So now two $100 tickets are two $200 tickets, through no fault of my own.”

The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles claims it never received that package, so Ruby spent a few hours tracking down a staffer to fax her paperwork to. Eventually, she sent the information to Shirley Massey, an adjudication staff assistant.

Ruby says the process overall has been very frustrating.

“If you could just point to one thing going wrong, that would be reassuring. But it seems like there are different things going wrong at different points in the process,” she says.

“That’s more alarming. If you reach that one person who can help you, it’s great. But to get to that person, it’s a hassle.”

Ruby isn’t the first person to issue such a complaint. In a previous story, driver Bob King struggled to find someone to mail him a copy of an erroneous ticket that was dismissed earlier this month.

“Obviously you can get the original ticket mailed to you, if you reach the right person at the DMV. But it shouldn’t be dependent on the person you speak to. It should be part of the process routinely if you claim it wasn’t your vehicle,” says King.

D.C. DMV spokeswoman Vanessa Newton wouldn’t comment specifically into Ruby’s case, but stated the agency would not void her ticket right now.

“Ms. Ruby’s tickets are in adjudication,” says Newton. “The DMV will mail her a notification letter once a decision has been rendered.”

Whether Ruby will prevail remains up in the air because the sticker on her Maryland license plate had expired when she received the tickets.

“They can say, ‘We don’t really care that Maryland didn’t send you your tag renewal, you still had an expired tag on your car,'” she says.

Ruby is hopeful she’ll prevail, but admits that she’s not without fault and is prepared for any outcome in her mail adjudication, a process that could take up to six months.

However, she remains upset that the tickets doubled and refuses to pay the higher fine.

“I understand rules are rules, as Councilmember Mary Cheh said,” says Ruby, referring to a previous WTOP story.

“That’s one way to look at it. But there are people behind this.That’s why you go to adjudication, so people can look at your case. Otherwise computers would do it. To simply hide behind a sweeping rule is covering your ears,” she says.

If you think you’re the victim of a bogus speed camera, red-light camera or parking ticket in D.C., Maryland or Virgina, WTOP may be able to help you cut the red tape. Email us your case – along with documentation – to ticketbuster@wtop.com.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.


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