Marion Barry settles traffic tickets, gets car released from D.C. impound

D.C. Council member Marion Barry found himself back in the good graces of the Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday after settling $2,800 worth of outstanding parking and traffic tickets, some more than two years old.

Gabriel Robinson, an associate director for the DMV, said Tuesday that Barry paid $1,779 to square his account, with $1,045 “reduced through the adjudication process” — allowing Barry to legally reclaim his 2002 Jaguar X-Type sedan.

Barry (D-Ward 8) paid up a day after The Washington Post reported on his long list of unpaid tickets, a record that was highlighted after a Saturday night collision resulted in multiple traffic citations for the former four-term mayor.

Robinson did not respond to questions about why Barry’s $2,824 in listed fines was reduced to $1,779, but it is not uncommon for hearing examiners to waive late fees and other penalties for drivers who contest their tickets.

LaToya Foster, Barry’s spokeswoman, declined to answer questions in an e-mail. “As soon as I have an update, I will let you know,” she wrote Tuesday afternoon.


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

Foster had said a “hypoglycemic attack” was responsible for the 78-year-old council member’s collision near 28th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE about 9 p.m. Saturday.

The crash put Barry in a hospital overnight and resulted in citations for driving the wrong way, lack of registration and no proof of insurance, police said.

DMV officials weren’t the only ones to cut Barry a break in recent days.

Yasser Alzubaidy, the owner of D.C. Towing and Recovery, the Northeast Washington business where Barry’s car was taken after his Saturday night accident, said he returned the car to Barry free of charge Monday after learning to whom the Jaguar belonged.

“We tried to show him some appreciation and respect because he’s done so much for the community,” Alzubaidy said in a phone interview Tuesday.

WUSA-TV aired video Monday from Alzubaidy's lot showing the Jaguar with damage to its front end and at least one flat tire. Rich Seney, a lot employee, said Tuesday that he towed the car to a garage on K Street NW. The car, he said, was drivable aside from the flat tire.

While police had previously characterized Barry’s car as “impounded” after the accident, a spokeswoman said only that the car had been “towed, as it was involved in an accident and was inoperable” and did not say whether Alzubaidy was permitted to release the car.

The police department “followed policy,” Gwendolyn Crump said in a statement. “Payment of tickets is a civil matter with which [the department] is not involved.”

Officials at the Department of Public Works, which issues most city parking tickets and handles booting and towing, also did not reply to questions Tuesday on the matter.

The DMV Web site says that the District’s Department of Public Works boots or tows vehicles with two or more unpaid tickets more than 60 days old.

DPW spokeswoman Linda Grant said Monday that the tickets on Barry’s car issued by her department “were written overnight when our boot crews aren’t on duty.” The crews are active between 6 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the number of outstanding violations associated with Barry’s car in a DMV database had dropped from the 21 citations listed on Monday to 14 citations.

The fines for some of the violations listed had declined at that time. For instance, an April 3 violation for failure to display current tags carried a $205 fine Monday but had been reduced to a $65 fine Tuesday.

By the end of the day Tuesday, no violations remained.

Meanwhile, Barry used his Twitter account to make amends after criticizing the police department in a Monday tweet suggesting it had “called news media to come film my hypoglycemic attack & accident.”

Crump denied any wrongdoing by police, and on Tuesday evening Barry said that tweet and others “were unauthorized and did not reflect my views.”

“DC has one of the finest police forces in the nation,” he said.

Peter Hermann contributed to this report.

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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