DC mulls dropping 30-day doubling of parking, traffic tickets

WASHINGTON — The District’s Council is considering a bill that would eliminate the current doubling of fines for failing to pay parking and traffic tickets within 30 days — but only for D.C. residents.

The bill would exempt D.C. residents from late penalties or fees on photo enforcement tickets, parking tickets and moving violations, however, Virginia and Maryland residents would still face a doubled fine if not paid or challenged within 30 days.

“The doubling of traffic fines after a 30-day deadline does not improve traffic safety or engender compliance with traffic laws one whit,” said John Townsend, of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Last year, the District issued nearly $300 million in traffic and parking tickets.

Townsend said the quickly doubling fine is “draconian” and acts as “a hidden tax on poor people,” who might have difficulty paying an ticket amidst other financial responsibilities.

“The fear of doubling fines forces some driver to pay tickets they feel they didn’t deserve,” said Townsend. “But by doing so, they forfeit the right to fight or appeal the fine.”

The “Traffic and Parking Ticket Penalty Amendment Act of 2017” was introduced last week, and has been referred to committee for closer consideration.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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