DC backs off plan to fine speeders $1,000

WASHINGTON — Leaders are backing off a proposal that would impose a $1,000 fine for driving more than 25 mph over the speed limit in D.C.

But a new proposal could still leave drivers with a whopper of a bill.

In 2015, the District Department of Transportation proposed increasing the fine from $300 to $1,000, as part of the District’s goal to eliminate the number of transportation-related deaths and serious injuries by 2024.

“When the fines were set at $1,000, I think the council, certainly, and residents were very concerned that that’s just a draconian amount of money,” said Councilman Jack Evans.

Now, after a backlash, transportation leaders have released a revised proposal.

Under the latest plan, the fine would be $400 for infractions that happen on highways and $500 for infractions that happen on city streets.

But Evans said the revised amount may still be out of reach some people.

“For people who are middle income or (on the) lower end of the income scale, that can be the rent money,” Evans said. “So we have to be conscious of that when we set these fines.”

John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said most of the tickets would be speed camera tickets. He said that even with the revised fines, the District would have “one of the most expensive speed camera tickets not only in the region, but in the country.”

Other proposed changes

Also under the latest proposal, the fine for passing a stop sign would increase, from $50 to $100. At a red light, the fines for failing to come to a complete stop before turning, failing to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian or violating a “No Turn on Red” sign would double to $100. The fine for failing to stop and give the right-of-way to a pedestrian in the roadway would increase, from $75 to $150. The penalty for stopping in a bike lane would increase, from $65 to $150.

The proposal would also designate certain roadways as neighborhood slow zones with a maximum speed limit of 20 miles per hour.

Unlike the 2015 proposal, the latest proposal targets violations by bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as drivers. Bike riders who cannot keep one hand on the handlebars because they are carrying objects, including mobile devices, would face a $50 fine. The fine for failing to yield the right-of-way would also double to $50.

For pedestrians, walking into the path of a vehicle and colliding with it, and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle would carry a $100 fine. Similar violations currently carry $10 fines.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

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