- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2005

Drivers who planned to contest their red-light camera and other moving-violation tickets this week will get a break: The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles shut down its traffic adjudication facility for the rest of the week because of building cooling problems.

The closure at 65 K Street NE has led the DMV to dismiss tickets that were to be contested at hearings scheduled to have taken place this week, department officials said.

“I would imagine they would be ecstatic to know that whatever the circumstance around their ticket, it is canceled,” said Janis Hazel, a spokeswoman for DMV.

Motorists whose tickets have been canceled will receive a letter in the mail in the next few weeks informing them of the decision, she said.

Parking and other non-moving-violation tickets will be put on hold for the week, with fines resuming after the office reopens. Officials are encouraging violators to pay their tickets online or over the phone while the building is closed.

The facility will be closed for at least a week while the D.C. Office of Property Management assesses and repairs the building’s heating and cooling system. The second floor of the facility had to be closed Friday because temperatures were approaching 90 degrees after the air conditioning stopped working.

The facility normally houses DMV’s ticket payment and adjudication functions and its call center, permit control, driver record and insurance services.

About 120 moving-violation ticket hearings were scheduled to take place each day this week, Miss Hazel said.

It is not known how many of these involved red-light or speeding-camera tickets and how much money the District will lose from dismissing those contested tickets, officials said.

Fines for speeding are $50 for going 11 to 15 mph over the speed limit, with $50 added for each additional 5 mph, with a maximum fine of $200. A fine for a red-light violation is $75.

“Our priority is processing customers right now, so I do not have that information available,” Miss Hazel said.

The K Street building — which is scheduled for demolition in October — has had problems with its heating and cooling system for the past several months.

A gas leak shut down the building March 31 and April 1, which led the agency to dismiss all moving-violation tickets. Heating and cooling problems shut down the building May 12 and May 13. Moving-violation tickets were dismissed as a result of that closure.

The DMV is in the process of moving its main office from 301 C Street NW to a site at 95 M Street SW where the United Way was formally housed.

The DMV has systematically been moving units, including its general counsel and human resources department, from K Street to C Street in the past few months in preparation for the final closing.

The cooling problem, Miss Hazel said, has forced the agency to expedite that process as space at the C Street site becomes available.

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