Montgomery Council President Craig Rice pays more than $1,000 in overdue D.C. tickets

December 9, 2013

Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice said he paid more than $1,000 in delinquent D.C. tickets Monday — for illegal parking, speeding and expired tags — after a television reporter confronted him with the records.

Rice (D-Upcounty), elected president by his council colleagues last week, said he wasn’t aware of the four unpaid tickets, first reported Monday by WJLA-TV, because they were sent to the Acura dealership from which he leased his car. When it was pointed out that most car dealerships and finance companies mail notices of tickets to the leaseholder, Rice said that because he made monthly lease payments online, he might have inadvertently discarded them.

“It’s possible they could have sent it to me,” Rice said.

Questions about Rice’s driving record first surfaced on Friday when the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County posted the Maryland District Court record of a Sept. 9 violation. Rice was stopped by police on I-270 near the Falls Road exit for driving solo in the HOV lane.

Rice contested the $80 ticket on Sept. 27 and asked for a trial, he said, because he was only passing another vehicle. The record shows that a hearing was set for 11 a.m. Nov. 7. Rice said he missed the date, however, because he was at an event in Gaithersburg as part of a campaign to help medically vulnerable homeless people.

Rice said he then paid the ticket online, although the case is still officially listed as open.

The Nov. 7 notation on the court record said “Failure to Appear Suspension,” which the Parents’ Coalition construed to mean that his drivers license had been suspended. But the court can only recommend to the Maryland MVA that a license be suspended. Maryland MVA spokesman Buel Young said Monday there is no record of Rice’s license having been suspended.

Young also said WJLA incorrectly reported that the MVA asked the District Court to suspend Rice’s license.

Montgomery court records show Rice has received three other tickets in the last three years, all for speeding. All fines were paid, according to the records.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.
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