local digest

D.C. anti-war protest; crackdown on VRE ticket fraud

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Antiwar protest starts at noon

An antiwar protest is scheduled to take place Saturday, starting with a noon rally in Lafayette Square across from the White House and followed by a march through Northwest Washington.

The ANSWER coalition, one of the main organizers, said the event is being staged to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Participants will include Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out and the National Council of Arab Americans.

The march will proceed west on Pennsylvania Avenue, north on 18th Street, east on M Street and south on 15th Street. The march is being billed as the largest demonstration so far to protest the extra deployment of troops to Afghanistan.

-- Michael E. Ruane

Law cracks down on VRE ticket fraud

Virginia lawmakers passed legislation last week that targets the use of fraudulent and non-validated tickets on Virginia Railway Express, and the measure awaits the governor's signature, VRE officials said Friday.

The legislation was unanimously approved by the House and Senate. It will make it easier for VRE officials to crack down on people using bogus tickets, yet is more rider-friendly than the legislation adopted last year, VRE officials said.

The measure would make it illegal for people to produce and use a fraudulent or counterfeit ticket on the commuter train service. Violators could be fined $500 or more and could face jail time. Riders who do not validate a ticket before boarding or who ride out of the ticket's designated zone could face a civil infraction and be fined up to $100.

VRE officials said they needed the new legislation because the existing policy makes it hard for VRE to charge those violating the law. Current law requires proof of "intent to defraud," which VRE officials said is nearly impossible to obtain.

The new legislation would take effect July 1 and remove that clause. It also would lower the penalty for not validating or for riding out of zone and would allow riders to prepay a ticket instead of going to court.

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