7 ON YOUR SIDE

7 On Your Side: D.C. DMV denies unfair parking ticket appeals

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Christen Eliason is frustrated with the D.C. DMV. She used her Parkmobile app to buy two hours of parking on Independence Avenue, but was still greeted with a parking ticket.

“I found this. I came back at 3:45 p.m. almost exactly. This ticket was issued at 3:28 p.m.”

But Eliason had paid until 4 p.m. She sent the DMV a print out clearly showing she had paid to park at the time the ticket was issued. Her appeal was denied for insufficient evidence.

“I was right to the end of my rope,” says Jeff Peake.

Peake received tickets meant for FedEx and UPS, but when he tried to appeal, the DMV said he needed more evidence.

“It’s starting to be clear that they want the money instead of going through the process and making sure everything is right,” says Jason Hair.

Hair received a speeding ticket from a camera on I-295 at Benning Road in January of 2012. He fought it, but 14 months later he was still waiting to hear the results when tax season rolled around.

“I was due a refund because I’d overpaid my taxes and a little while later I got a notice from the city saying they were going to offset my tax return and take the money for the fine out of my taxes,” he says.

The city took $125 out of his tax return to pay the ticket he was still appealing. But numbers obtained by 7 On Your Side show that’s not happening. As of June nearly half of the 40,200 tickets have been waiting for seven months or more. Over 4,000 have been pending for nearly a near.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is proposing legislation that would void tickets like Hair’s if a written decision has not been provided within six months. His bill would also allow people two years to fight a ticket.

“The hearing officers are completely inflexible or they’ll almost act in defiance of facts,” D.C. Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh says.

Cheh, who chairs the City Council’s Transportation Committee, says something needs to be done. She’s planning oversight hearing to demand answers from the DMV.

“Bring them in and say ‘What is going on over there and what is your plan to fix it?’” she says.

But a fix won’t come soon enough for Eliason. She tried further appealing her ticket following the direction on the “hearing record” document telling her to “please send payment for the ticket along with a $10 appeal fee.”

The DMV would later deny the appeal because she paid the ticket, but she still wants a hearing.

Lucinda Babers, the director of the D.C. DMV, released the following statement Wednesday:

“DC DMV is aware of Chairmen Mendelson’s proposed legislation to modify some of the laws related to the adjudication process. At the request of Councilmember Cheh’s staff, DC DMV provided feedback to them on June 4, 2013, related to the proposed legislation. We also informed Councilmember Cheh’s staff that the legislation needed to be worked on and collaborated with DC DMV and the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). To this date, DC DMV is still waiting on additional discussion with the Council on this bill.”

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