- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Motorists who flouted D.C. traffic laws, then left their tickets in the glove box will get a reprieve in coming months.

The city’s Department of Motor Vehicles is temporarily allowing people hit with parking and moving violations before Jan. 1, 2010, to pay the original fines without late fees.

The amnesty period — the city’s first since 2001 — begins Monday and runs until Jan. 27, city officials said Wednesday.

Agency Director Lucinda Babers said the city collects about $142 million a year in traffic and parking tickets but loses out on millions more, in part because fines are doubled after 30 days, which makes motorists decide some tickets are just too expensive to pay.

Officials say the 4 million outstanding tickets eligible to be paid under the six-month program represent roughly $245.7 million in collectible money. However, they expect to collect $6.3 million of that.

Motorists who received a moving violation and did not pay the fine will not be assessed points if they pay the fine under the amnesty program.

The District’s biggest traffic scofflaws tend to be from Maryland, Ms. Babers said.

Maryland drivers account for 37.6 percent of unpaid tickets, compared with 22.7 percent from Virginia and 17.4 percent from the District.

City motorists typically pay more promptly because they cannot re-register their vehicles with unpaid tickets.

Drivers from the rest of the country are responsible for the remaining 22.3 percent of outstanding tickets, Ms. Babers said.

“I can tell you without a doubt the majority of people who receive tickets are Maryland residents,” she said.

And why is that?

“Well, because they illegally park in the District,” quipped Ms. Babers at the mayor’s weekly press conference, eliciting laughter.

Onak Wiachai, a Maryland resident parking downtown Wednesday afternoon, agreed with the amnesty program, saying it was a good idea because she’s seen friends struggle with unpaid tickets.

“It’s too much,” she said.

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