DC Council questions effectiveness of booting enforcement program

D.C. Council members say the city is losing thousands in unpaid fines and allowing dangerous drivers to stay on the road because the Department of Public Work’s traffic enforcement programs have a yearslong backlog.

On Monday, Council member Mary Cheh held a hearing to find out why the agency is lagging in finding drivers and booting their vehicles.

Cheh heads the council’s transportation committee and discovered that DPW has more than 630,000 vehicles from Maryland, Virginia, D.C. and other states with two or more unpaid traffic tickets.

Vehicles with 61-day old tickets are eligible to be booted.

“Certainly there is a lot of money at stake here due to our failure to collect from these outstanding tickets,” Cheh said. “The main focus here is safety.”

Cheh said her committee learned from DPW that there are more than 3,000 vehicles with more than 20 outstanding moving violations and 500 vehicles with more than 40 traffic tickets.

“The most egregious driver, a Virginia driver, has more than 180 moving violations out of 216 total violations,” Cheh said. “And, I’m not talking about the parking tickets here. I’m talking about tickets for speeding and running red lights. These are tickets for dangerous driving behaviors.”

Acting DPW Director Christine Davis said the agency is hampered by the few number of workers, who pair in teams of two, to catch drivers and boot their vehicles.

Plus, she said DPW is still rebounding from the pandemic, which slowed traffic enforcement.

“With enforcement limited for a period of almost 15 months,” Davis said, “our parking enforcement operations were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. And, DPW temporarily suspended its booting operation.”

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