Marion Barry’s supporters had offered to pay DMV tickets

D.C. Council member Marion Barry said Wednesday that he was “pleased to announce that my parking tickets matter has been resolved, and my vehicle registration is valid” — his first public comments on a driving record that had included about $2,800 in unpaid tickets.

The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles announced Tuesday that the former four-term mayor settled the issue of the outstanding tickets, which included both parking and moving violations as well as numerous citations for failing to display current registration.

To settle a total of $2,824 in fines, late penalties and fees, Barry (D-Ward 8) paid $1,779, with the remaining $1,045 waived by a DMV hearing examiner.

Lucinda Babers, the department’s director, explained Wednesday that seven citations for failure to display a current registration were dismissed or reduced after Barry produced a receipt “showing the vehicle was validly registered in 2013, but the registration sticker was not received.”

Babers confirmed that Barry’s car, a 2002 Jaguar X-Type sedan, is now properly registered.


D.C. Council member Marion Barry is seen at an event on June 23 in Washington. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

In his statement, Barry said he “entered into negotiations” with the DMV earlier this year over the outstanding tickets, noting that “a number of the tickets were issued during official Council business, and as a result, those tickets were reduced.”

Under city law, D.C. Council members are exempt from some parking regulations while on official business but must not park “in violation of a loading zone, rush hour, firehouse, or fire plug limitation.”

Barry’s violations included two citations for obstructing a fire hydrant as well as several speeding and red-light infractions caught by camera.

“A number of people who heard about the issue called and offered to pay the balance, and I just want to express my gratitude for their kindness and generous offer,” Barry said. “I paid the balance of these tickets, in the amount of $2,339.00, from my own personal funds.”

A spokeswoman for Barry did not have an explanation for the $560 discrepancy between the DMV accounting and his own. “The bottom line is, it’s all paid up,” spokeswoman LaToya Foster said.

Also unclear is why Barry was permitted to renew his registration last year with at least 11 outstanding tickets. Typically, outstanding fines must be settled in order to renew a registration, but violations under appeal are exempt.

Barry also gave an account of the Saturday-night collision that resulted in citations for driving on the wrong side of the street and failure to provide proof of registration or insurance — prompting the new scrutiny of his driving record.

“While driving my car down Pennsylvania Avenue, Southeast, I began to feel my blood-sugar level dropping,” said Barry, 78, a longtime diabetic. “I immediately pulled to the side of the road and ate candy to elevate my blood-sugar level and felt a little better. From there, I began driving again but became disoriented and confused, and as a result, I encountered a minor fender bender with another automobile.”

“A hypoglycemic attack is very serious, and in many cases, fatal,” he added. “I thank God for His mercy. The outcome could have been much worse.”

Under city regulations, diabetic drivers must furnish a vision report and doctor’s report to secure a license. Those 70 and older are to be referred to a medical board for evaluation.

Gabriel Robinson, an associate director of the DMV, said in response to an inquiry Tuesday that Barry is “currently compliant with our medical requirements for persons with diabetes.”

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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