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Traffic Tickets and Violations in the District of Columbia
Citations or traffic tickets are issued in the District of Columbia for various violations of traffic law. Citations generally indicate the statute or code number of the violation, and explain how and when to pay the fine or respond to the ticket. You must respond to a citation, usually by paying a fine or appearing in court, or else a warrant may be issued for your arrest and your driving license may be suspended.
TYPES OF VIOLATIONS
Most traffic tickets in District of Columbia are issued for what are sometimes called "strict-liability" offenses. In these cases, the only thing required to convict a person of the offense is proof that they committed the act, regardless of any criminal intent. Examples of strict-liability offenses include:
- Overdue parking meters
- Not using turn signals
- Parking in a handicapped zone without authorization
MOVING VS. NON-MOVING VIOLATIONSViolations are also classified by whether or not the vehicle was in motion at the type of the incident, and traffic tickets may therefore be for either moving or non-moving violations. Examples of moving violations include:
- Speeding or driving below the minimum speed
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Driving without a seat belt
- Drunk driving (DUI and DWI)
- Parking in a handicapped zone or other illegal parking
- Driving with an invalid vehicle registration
- Having expired or missing license plates
- Leaving a vehicle unattended and running
YOUR OPTIONS WHEN YOU RECEIVE A CITATIONMany citations do not require a court appearance, and you may admit guilt by paying the ticket directly. The citation will indicate how and by what date to pay the fine. You must pay your ticket within 30 calendar days. Failure to do this will result in a penalty being added to the fine you already have. Your can pay your citation in person at the DMV's Adjudication Services; online; on the phone by calling (202) 289-2230 or by sending a check/money order (payable to DC Treasurer) by mail. You may also be eligible to pay in installments. Parking ticket payments should be mailed to:
DMV Adjudication Services P.O.Box 2014 Washington, DC 20013Photo enforcement ticket payments should be mailed to:
Automated Traffic Enforcement P.O. Box 37075 Washington, DC 20013-7075If you wish to dispute the citation, you must appear in court personally on the scheduled date, and enter a "not guilty" plea. While you may be able to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, a trial will be scheduled if no agreement is reached. A trial gives you an opportunity to fight the traffic ticket in front of a judge or jury, and most people prefer to hire a traffic ticket lawyer to defend them in court. The different methods for contesting the various types of tickets are listed below:
How to Contest a Parking TicketThis should be contested by mail or in person at a hearing within 60 days of receipt of the ticket. Fill out the back of the ticket and mark "Deny". After this deadline, you will have to submit a Motion to Vacate Default Judgment to find out whether you can still contest the ticket or not. Send the Mail Application Form along with any evidence (such as receipts or photographs) to:
DMV Adjudication Services Attn: Mail Adjudication P.O. Box 37135 Washington, DC 20013You should receive a response within 6-8 weeks of doing this. If you wish to schedule an in-person hearing for parking tickets, report to the Adjudication Services. To be eligible for this, you should be the registered owner of the vehicle or have a Power of Attorney from the registered owner. If you are found guilty, you can appeal to the Traffic Appeals Board. You will have to do this within 15 calendar days of the hearing. You must complete the Notice of Appeals Application and pay the ticket fine, any penalties and a $10 appeal fee for each ticket to be appealed. If you are appealing a minor moving violation ticket, you will have to pay a $50 transcript deposit fee.
How to contest a Minor Traffic TicketThis should be contested by mail or in person at a hearing within 30 days of receipt of the ticket. If you fail to do this, your driving license will be suspended and a penalty equal to the amount of the fine will be added to the fine. Fill out the back of the ticket and mark "Deny." Send a written request for a hearing and any evidence to the address given below:
DMV Adjudication Services Attn: Mail Adjudication P.O. Box 37135 Washington, DC 20013You should receive a response within 6-8 weeks of doing this. Walk in hearings are not an option for minor traffic violations. You will have to schedule a hearing. You can also request a hearing by contacting the Adjudication Services. To schedule a hearing online, check here. You can also call (202) 289-2230 or (866) 893-5023(toll free) to schedule one. As with parking tickets, if you are found guilty, you can appeal using the same procedure given above.
How to contest a Photo Enforcement TicketThis should be contested by mail or in person at a hearing within 60 days of receipt of the ticket. A hearing should be scheduled within 30 days of receipt of the ticket. If you fail to do this, your driving license will be suspended and a penalty equal to the amount of the fine will be added to the existing fine. If your defense for the ticket is that another person was driving the vehicle at the time, ensure that you present an affidavit with the name, address and license number of the person who was driving the vehicle at that time. To contest by mail, checks the boxes marked "I Deny Commission of the Infraction" on the ticket and send it along with a request for a hearing to:
Automated Traffic Enforcement Office P.O. Box 37075 Washington, DC 20013You should receive a response within 6-8 weeks of doing this. You can also schedule a hearing online, or by calling 202-756-5884.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF BEING FOUND GUILTYWhen you pay a ticket directly, you are essentially pleading guilty to a traffic offense, which carries the same consequences as being found guilty of the violation in court. Motorists who either plead guilty directly or are found guilty of an offense should be aware of the following possible consequences:
- Certain traffic offenses, including speeding and other moving violations, are automatically reported to the District of Columbia's Department of Motor Vehicles. The District of Columbia routinely provides information concerning traffic ticket convictions to other states.
- The District of Columbia's Department of Motor Vehicles follows a point system to track violations and their corresponding penalties. Points are added to your driving record which could result in your license being suspended. For more information, see our Point System section.
- District of Columbia drivers that accumulate points on their driving record are often subject to higher car insurance premiums.