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SIMMONS: High jinks with D.C.’s low-number plates

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D.C. officials rarely discuss them in public, yet they are in plain sight of most plain folk who motor around the city.

I'm talking low-number license plates, which are collecting tickets for speeding, illegal parking, running red lights and worse.

It's not clear what D.C. officials are doing about that, but it's very clear that these scofflaws — and city officials — should take action.

The tags are assigned by the mayor and D.C. Council members, and while the designee is not obligated to accept the privilege, the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles is responsible for keeping tabs on them.

Elected officials get to designate more than 900 special license plates.

I could name names, but I won't.

It seems some of these very privileged owners and drivers are ignoring their obligations — or perhaps being ignored by the DMV - with some violations dating back to 2002.

Here are a few glaring examples of outstanding and unpaid violations as of Tuesday:

• D.C. tag 911 has chalked up 11 violations since April 15, mostly for ignoring no standing/stopping/parking signs in Northwest, including an April 15 citation for "no standing anytime" in the 3200 block of Prospect Street.

Perhaps the driver was spooked by the possibility of parking too close to the 3600 block of Prospect Street, where the infamous "Exorcist" stairs are located.

• The driver of D.C. tag 1 likes variety, illegally parking in an alley and a loading zone. This vehicle had other violations, including failing to display current tags on Jan. 25.

• Downtown meter maids, who slip those pink parking-violation notices under your windshield wipers, are some of the most efficient in the city. But the drivers behind the wheels of D.C. tag 555 and 704 don't seem to care about government efficiency.

The driver of 704 got two tickets on June 21 for parking in front of 1823 L St. NW, which is Mackey's Public House and where, according to its website, happy hour lasts from noon to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

Tag 555, meanwhile, got two $50 downtown parking tickets, including one for a most-common infraction: an expired meter.

• But hey, parking infractions are the least of the worries for the driver of tag 705. This cat racked up $500 in fines for speeding along northbound Branch Avenue in Southeast. If the driver was headed to the DMV offices at Branch and Pennsylvania Avenue, he or she could have dropped by and paid a $50 ticket for parking at an expired meter in the 1000 block of Vermont Avenue Northwest on May 3.

And here are two of my faves.

• Tag 800002, whose driver got a ticket on Jan. 12, 2006, for no stopping/standing during evening rush.

Really? Really?

The original $50 ticket has probably multiplied enough in the ensuing years to purchase bottled water for the crews cleaning up the Mall after the July 4th festivities.

• And get this joker, the driver of tag 1600.

Another better-late-than-never motorist, 1600 was cited for — drumroll, please — failure to display current tags.

So, the council and the mayor grant a very special privilege to the owners of these and other vehicles, but neither the owners nor the officials responsible for holding them accountable are paying attention.

What a hoax.

Make no mistake. A far meatier story is possible, though I'm certain the Gray administration and council members do not want it to seep out.

Here again, I could name names, but choose not to go there.

It's just that in the past, DMV has heaped on me whenever it's time to renew my driver's license, and frankly, dear readers, I'd like for DMV to look at other drivers for a change.

So, if you are one of the privileged with special low-number tags, pay up.

If you count yourself among the plain folk, I leave you with this: Has DMV ever given you such a break?

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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