DC extends amnesty program for drivers with unpaid tickets

D.C. is extending its amnesty program for drivers with overdue tickets until the end of the year, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday.

The program will now end Dec. 31 instead of Sept. 30, as originally planned. It waives all penalties on late tickets related to parking, minor moving violations and photo enforcement, such as speed, traffic light and stop sign camera tickets.

“Since the program launched in June, over 32,000 drivers have used it to pay outstanding tickets with no penalties added, collectively settling $44 million worth of tickets,” Bowser said at a news conference. “And in just four months, those 32,000 people have had to make difficult decisions during the pandemic, and this program is providing a crucial lifeline to help their families move past the ticket problem that they had.”

Drivers still have to pay the original amount of the ticket, but all penalties will be waived. The program applies to any tickets issued before the end of 2021, not just those issued since the start of the pandemic — “since time began,” as Lucinda Babers, deputy mayor for operations and infrastructure, put it.

Babers said she is “extremely pleased that we’ve been able to reach out to many non-D.C. residents for this ticket amnesty program.” She noted that the city has collected $12 million from drivers who are not from D.C., Maryland or Virginia.

Babers also gave a breakdown of tickets given to those from the region.

Maryland accounts for roughly 40% of all tickets in D.C., “and I’m pleased to say that about 36% of that $44 million that has been paid so far has been paid by Maryland residents,” Babers said.

She added that 20% of tickets paid through the program has come from Virginia residents. Meanwhile, about 26% has come from D.C. residents, who have to settle all outstanding tickets that are more than 90 days old to renew their driver’s licenses or vehicle registrations, “so this is extremely crucial for them to get on the pathway to the middle class,” Babers said.

“We know that during this pandemic, there are many individuals who simply cannot afford to pay their outstanding debts,” she added. “They want to, but they cannot afford to.”

One of those residents, Ashley Outlaw, was at the news conference and urged others to take advantage of the amnesty program.

Outlaw, who works for D.C. Public Schools, said the program “helped her drastically.”

“My tickets were in the thousands, and the program helped me get my ticket amount into the hundreds,” she said.

Babers said that if residents are already in a ticket payment plan with the D.C. Central Collection Unit, any penalties will be removed from their payment plan.

But if the debt isn’t paid by Dec. 31, the penalties will be added back on, “so this is the time to take care of business, to take care of your debts,” Babers said.

Bowser echoed that sentiment.

“Because it’s been such a tremendous success, we know that more drivers can benefit from the program and we know that many more residents still need to,” the mayor said. “And don’t wait until the program is about to end. Look into it and do it now.”

Anna Gawel

Anna Gawel joined WTOP in 2020 and works in both the radio and digital departments. Anna Gawel has spent much of her career as the managing editor of The Washington Diplomat, which has been the flagship publication of D.C.’s diplomatic community for over 25 years.

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