D.C. DMV offers amnesty for overdue tickets through Jan. 27

July 27, 2011

Attention, scofflaws.

The District Department of Motor Vehicles is offering a deal that hasn’t been granted since 2001: amnesty.

Starting Monday, all overdue parking, photo-enforcement and moving violation tickets issued before Jan. 1, 2010, can be paid without penalty. That means drivers pay half because fines on outstanding tickets double after 30 days.

At his weekly news conference Wednesday, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said the city expects to collect $6.3 million through the ticket amnesty program, which ends Jan. 27.

For drivers who paid overdue tickets recently, sorry, there are no refunds.

Lucinda M. Babers, DMV director, said scofflaws need “an additional incentive” to pay. DMV’s collections contractor has been successful in getting recent offenders to pay up, she said.

Babers did not have a breakdown of who owes outstanding tickets, but she knew the region’s biggest transgressors: Maryland drivers get nearly 38 percent of tickets issued and Virginia motorists follow, with about 23 percent. District residents incur about 17 percent of summonses issued. The remainder is spread among drivers from rest of the country, Babers said.

The DMV doesn’t have an explanation for why Maryland drivers get so many tickets. “They park illegally,” Babers said matter-of-factly to laughter at the news conference.

But Babers doesn’t care where you’re from, just pay. “Tickets to us are tickets, and they need to all be paid,” she said.

There are a few hitches. For example, hearings for amnesty tickets are not available. Only District residents are eligible for a payment plan, though the bill must be paid within the six months of the amnesty program. Also, the DMV won’t assess points on moving violations on amnesty tickets, but if a driver was found liable previously, the points will not be removed for two years.

All drivers eligible for the program will be contacted by mail, which will cost the city about $360,000 in postage, Babers said.

Meanwhile, Gray also announced that Ron Linton, a longtime government policy consultant and former chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, is his pick to be the new chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission.

Linton, who has worked as a consultant on the the city’s school modernization program, said he was contacted by city Administrator Allen Y. Lew about the job.

“I thought it might be a nice last hurrah,” said Linton, who served as a reserve D.C. police officer for more than 20 years and reached the rank of assistant chief.

He will replace Dena Reed, the interim chairman who was recently criticized for her handling of a public commission meeting in which two journalists were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after a dispute about their right to record the meeting.

Linton said he was once a journalist himself. “I’m not frightened of journalists,” he said, adding that he will conduct open meetings at the Taxicab Commission. “There are no state secrets over there.”

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