DMV Will Dismiss Some Tickets

The Department of Motor Vehicles had good news last night for those who are scheduled for a hearing this week to contest a ticket for a moving violation.

You don't have to show up. In fact, you can't, but the ticket will be dismissed. The building at 65 K Street NE, where the hearings are held, appears to be "sick," said Janis Hazel, a DMV spokeswoman. It will be closed at least through the end of the week.

What ails the building is not known, she said, but the city will try to find out. Hazel said last week's heat was not enough to cause all the problems reported by employees.

Some services will be relocated, and others can be done online or by phone, she said. For more information, call 202-727-1000. The DMV has its own call center, but that will not be in service.

Slots Promoters Still Mulling Next Step

Promoters of a plan to legalize slot machines in the nation's capital have asked for more time to decide whether to appeal a $622,880 fine levied by the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, the largest penalty assessed for violations of city election laws.

The board offered to reduce the fine to $575,000 if slots supporters agreed by today to accept the ruling. In a request filed late Friday, attorneys for a political action committee formed to win voter approval for slots in the city asked the board to give them an extra 30 days to consider their options.

"Although the committee has not completed its analysis of all the complex legal and factual issues raised by [the board's] order . . . the committee has identified several issues that appear to warrant further and careful consideration," wrote attorney George W. Jones Jr. He questioned the board's authority to assess fines against the committee and described the amount of the penalty as "significantly overstated."

The fine, levied July 29, marked the culmination of a year-long inquiry into allegations of fraud, forgery and other irregularities during a July 2004 petition drive, which was aimed at putting the slots initiative on the D.C. ballot.

The board rejected the initiative after finding "pervasive irregularities and improprieties of a magnitude never previously experienced in this jurisdiction."


Wilson Bridge Lane Closures Ahead

Managers of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project plan more lane closures this weekend, and they are warning drivers to avoid the inner loop of the Capital Beltway between 8 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Monday.

During that time, the inner loop will go from four lanes to one, starting just before the Interstate 295 interchange in Prince George's County and ending just past the Route 1 interchange on the Alexandria side.

The work is the second half of a realignment in the Beltway, necessitated by the construction of the new bridge. As with the first half of the Beltway shift during the weekend of July 15, project managers say drivers will face severe delays. During the first round, delays were minimal because drivers heeded warnings to use alternative routes.

Traffic analysis for the weekend work is estimating backups of 10 to 15 miles and delays of 60 to 90 minutes, even if 75 percent of travelers stay away. Peak traffic impacts are expected Saturday afternoon into early evening.

Long-distance drivers could bypass the Washington area by using southbound Route 301 near Baltimore, which ties back in with Interstate 95 near Richmond.

Local drivers should consider such alternatives as taking the Beltway in the direction of the American Legion Bridge or Interstate 395 through Washington. More information is available by calling 877-463-6992 or by going to the project's Web site,

Bus Delays Likely Today Near Pentagon

Beginning today, several Metrobus routes in Arlington that serve the Pentagon will be affected by a project to rebuild a portion of Eads Street between North and South Rotary roads.

Lines 13A, 13B, 13F and 13G are among those that could have delays of 10 to 15 minutes per trip near the Pentagon, and riders are advised to plan for more travel time. Delays could last about six weeks.

For more information about Pentagon construction detours, call Metro at 202-637-7000 or visit


Baltimore Housing Permits Soar

Residential construction permits in Baltimore in the first six months of this year equaled the number issued for all of last year, and the city's hot housing market isn't showing any signs of slowing down.

A total of 735 permits were issued, a seven-fold increase over the first half of 2000, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

But the number of suburban permits has dropped. Last year, the five counties surrounding Baltimore issued permits for a total of 9,200 homes, almost 2,000 fewer than in 2000. Market watchers said the demand for urban homes is being fueled by young professionals, aging baby boomers and suburban restrictions on growth.


Alexandria Woman Devours Competition

Sonya Thomas of Alexandria has gobbled her way to another speed-eating title by attacking a Wisconsin staple -- the bratwurst.

Thomas, known as the Black Widow on the competitive-eating circuit, downed 35 bratwursts in 10 minutes at the first Johnsonville Brat-Eating World Championship, held Saturday in Sheboygan, Wis. Thomas edged out her nearest competitor by half a brat to win.

"I don't know where she puts it," spectator Sue Van De Kreeke said. "I got sick watching her."

The previous bratwurst-eating record was 191/2 brats in 10 minutes.

Thomas's victory came two days after she won a grilled-cheese-sandwich eating contest in San Diego. She won handily by eating 22.

Thomas, a Burger King manager, is ranked second by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Her various eating records include ones for hard-boiled eggs (65 in 6 minutes 40 seconds) and chicken wings (167 in 32 minutes).

The bratwurst contest was sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

"There's a federal city and a local city. We are 100 percent committed to a ballpark that represents D.C. What does that mean? Our answer is both. We'll do something symbolic of both."

-- Joseph Spear, who will design the Washington Nationals' stadium. -- A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Martin Weil, Robert Thomson and Lori Montgomery and the Associated Press.