D.C. traffic ticket that went to federal court returning to local jurisdiction

August 23, 2014

A D.C. traffic ticket that went to federal court is coming back home.

A week after saying that a civilian FBI worker shouldn’t have his citation adjudicated by the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, the U.S. attorney’s office has changed its mind.

In a court filing Friday, federal prosecutors wrote that their lawyers had talked with the District’s lawyers and agreed to the new course “in the interests of justice, and out of respect for the importance of the District’s policies and procedures.”

The saga came about after a seemingly routine fender-bender in May on Sheridan Circle in Northwest Washington. A Dodge Caravan driven by Benjamin Huff, the FBI employee, collided with a Toyota 4Runner driven by Mark Andrew McCoy of Alexandria.

A D.C. police officer gave Huff a $100 ticket for “changing lanes without caution.” But the officer noted in her report that she had cited McCoy. Huff, in court documents, disputes that he was at fault, and had planned to fight his ticket where everyone else fights tickets: at the DMV.

But because he was on the job when the accident occurred, the feds stepped in. In a time-honored practice designed to protect federal workers, the FBI investigated and decided that Huff had a viable claim. Then the U.S. attorney’s office filed what is called a “removal” in federal court, which in essence yanked the case out of the DMV and moved it to U.S. District Court.

But the feds changed their tune after receiving assurances from District officials that, should Huff lose his appeal, he or the U.S. government could appeal again, to the D.C. Superior Court.

A judge still has to sign off on the request, but it appears that Huff will be headed for a DMV hearing room soon.

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