The Washington Post

Has the D.C. DMV done you wrong?

Clare Pilkington holds her license plate at her home in South Riding on Friday, March 14, 2014, in Chantilly, Va. Pilkington received two parking tickets for a car with a very similar license plate. Her’s is PICKLS but the car that received the tickets is P1CKLS (with a 1). After spending more than a year fighting the tickets, Pilkington was recently cleared. Since D.C.’s DMV requires the tickets paid before they will review them for errors, she was told she would receive a payment in about six weeks. A family member joked that she was probably getting the tickets because of the Cowboys sticker on the back of her truck. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Charlie Haupt, hasn’t driven to the District in years. The Baltimore resident prefers to take public transportation. It’s easier, and you don’t have to worry about pesky little annoyances like parking tickets.

At least that’s what Haupt thought until he received a notice in February 2012 from the D.C. DMV that he was delinquent in paying a parking ticket. The fine? $100.

“I knew even before I checked it was a mistake,” he told The Post for a story published in Sunday’s paper. That’s because Haupt has not driven to the District since the 1970s. Plus, the ticket listed the offending vehicle as a Ford. Haupt drives a Nissan Rogue.

But more than two years later, Haupt is still trying to clear up the misunderstanding. He is one of hundreds — perhaps even thousands of drivers who have been caught in the D.C. DMV’s ticket adjudication process.

After the story ran, I received several e-mails from folks who had similar experiences. One reader had an experience similar to that of Clare Pilkington, who ran into trouble when an officer confused an “I” with an “1.”

“Sad to see things haven’t improved,” he wrote.

Now it’s your turn.

Do you have a D.C. DMV story to share? Does your neighbor, partner or friend? We encourage you to share away. Please post your adventure in the land of bureaucracy below (or if you’re shy, you can e-mail me at — but please include your name). We’ll publish the best tales.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.



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Lori Aratani · March 24, 2014

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