D.C. Parking Offenders Lose Right to Due Process

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Our favorite motorists' rights crusader, The Newspaper, reports that Washington, DC's upcoming " Performance Plan" eliminates parking offenders' right to their day in court. No really. "The DMV will complete the phase-out of in-person adjudication of parking tickets in favor of mail-in and e-mail adjudication by December 2008." In case you hadn't figured it out already, The Newspaper says the move to suspend D.C. citizens' right to due process stems from a good old-fashioned cash grab. "As one-third of those who contest citations in the city are successful, the hearings cut significantly into the $100 million in revenue tickets generate each year." The new, more efficient (if entirely less personal) protesting policy comes on the heels of the D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's decision to equip street sweepers with automated parking enforcement cameras, destined to spit out $30 tickets at a fearsome clip. Meanwhile, one wonders if any legal challenge to the removal of a live Judge for parking offenses would have to be posted as well.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Fallout11 Fallout11 on Nov 13, 2007

    Even more straightforward here (courtesy of New York): (b) Yellow indications: 1. Traffic, except pedestrians, facing a steady circular yellow signal may enter the intersection; however, said traffic is thereby warned that the related green movement is being terminated or that a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter. 2. Traffic, except pedestrians, facing a steady yellow arrow signal may cautiously enter the intersection only to complete the movement indicated by such arrow or make such other movement as is permitted by other indications shown at the same time; however, said traffic is thereby warned that the related green arrow movement is being terminated or that a red indication will be exhibited immediately thereafter...." "(d) Red indications: 1. Traffic, except pedestrians, facing a steady circular red signal, unless to make such other movement as is permitted by other indications shown at the same time, shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, then shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or in the event there is no crosswalk, at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of the approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown except as provided in paragraph two of this subdivision...." http://safeny.org/trde-vt.htm

  • Virtual Insanity Virtual Insanity on Nov 13, 2007

    Landcrusher: My understanding is that some cities are getting around that whole needing to present the ticket in person by turning it into a civil suit.

  • NBK-Boston NBK-Boston on Nov 13, 2007

    The mechanics of parking tickets are usually governed by state law, which typically grants municipalities some latitude to define offenses, create parking-restricted zones, set penalty levels, and run parking enforcement departments. In actual states, the political forces of suburban and rural voters usually cause the statehouse to reign in parking tickets powers to some extent, because such voters are often victims of such tickets without being beneficiaries. Cities, and urban representatives, are usually for higher penalty options and easier procedures, because they feel a greater need to regulate parking and congestion, and get a whole lot of money out of the process (a good chunk from the pockets of out-of-towners) which they get to spend themselves. Usually an equilibrium is reached, so the cities don't get too out of control. Washington, DC is entirely urban, though, so that sort of political check is probably not there. From a "due process" point of view, they could probably get away with a system that had no in-person hearings for the initial stage of adjudication, but a sympathetic judge would quickly throw out a system that did not have some avenue of appeal which eventually reached an actual person. In some views, an eventual appeal to state court should be available to someone who really wants to contest his ticket, and keeps losing at the lower stages. In my experience, most states have provisions explicitly allowing parking enforcement officers to leave tickets on your windshield, and consider that valid service of process even if you never get it because the weather or vandals get to it first. Moving violations, which are more serious than parking tickets (higher fines, points on your record, insurance consequences) may have explicit "in person" service provisions in some states. This prevents cops from radar-gunning you in the street, taking down your plate number, and sending you the violation notice in the mail once they look up the registration. But that would snarl the typical way cameras are used. If the purpose of pulling someone over is mainly to make sure the cop has ID'ed the driver -- so the owner doesn't get ticketed when his friend, whose borrowed his car, engages in speeding -- then cameras could get around this by taking a zoomed-in picture of the driver in addition to catching his plates. But the statutes would have to be amended to allow those sorts of summonses to be mailed out instead of presented in person. It may also be the case that cops pull you over mainly for the sake of checking you out -- sniff for booze, see if there is anything suspicious in plain view on the seats around you -- so they can arrest you for other stuff in the end. Since a camera won't sniff you for booze, who cares?

  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Nov 14, 2007

    I lived in DC for 8 years want to beat the parking tickets? change your license plates periodically. that's all it takes - the tickets are linked to LICENSE PLATES only. All you need to do is mail in for new plates every 6 months or so and you get to start all over again with a clean slate.