- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006

Nearly two of every 10 parking tickets issued by Metropolitan Police officers would be dismissed under a pending policy change by the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The motor vehicles agency is planning to begin throwing out parking tickets that are not entered into its computer system within two weeks.

“We have amended DMV policy,” DMV Director Anne Witt has told her personnel. “Any ticket we haven’t received within two weeks will automatically be dismissed.”

Most parking tickets are issued electronically by the city’s Department of Public Works, which hires 175 parking enforcers to patrol 3,500 city blocks on weekdays.

But 28 other law-enforcement agencies in the District — including Metropolitan Police and U.S. Park Police — can issue handwritten tickets that are not always entered promptly into DMV’s electronic payment system, officials said.

Parking tickets issued by public works personnel are linked overnight to DMV’s payment system. Tickets issued by other agencies must be mailed to DMV and processed before they can be paid electronically.

Many of those handwritten tickets are sent to DMV after the deadline or never sent at all, officials said.

The Metropolitan Police Department issues the majority of handwritten tickets and is responsible for parking enforcement on weekends. This year, police officers have written about 79,480 tickets, officials said.

About 12,230 — or 15 percent — of those tickets were not forwarded within the allotted time, police spokesman Kevin Morison said.

Officials would not say how much the new policy will cost the District in ticket revenue, which becomes part of the city general fund.

In fiscal 2005, the District issued a total of $69 million worth of parking tickets, which range in value from $20 to $100 before late fees are assessed. The average value is about $62, according to officials.

If the DMV’s pending policy had been in effect since January, the city would have lost about $760,000 in dismissed parking tickets issued by the police department.

“The tickets are supposed to be submitted to a supervisor at the conclusion of the issuing member’s tour of duty,” Mr. Morison said. “The receiving supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the infractions are valid and the fines accurately reflected.

“Once this process has been completed, the supervisor forwards the infractions to an administrative clerk, who must record the infractions on a transmittal form so that tickets are transported to DMV by 9 a.m. the next business day,” he said.

DMV officials said last month that the policy would take effect July 1. But agency spokeswoman Janis Hazel said officials are waiting on the development of new business practices before the policy takes effect.

Tickets typically must be paid within 30 days of being issued, and fines double for tardy tickets.

Drivers may not be able to pay them on time electronically if agencies do not quickly forward tickets to DMV, officials said.

However, the new policy should not be an excuse for motorists to ignore tickets, Miss Hazel said. “People can and should still pay their tickets.”

Drivers who receive handwritten tickets can pay over the phone, in person or by mail regardless of whether the tickets appear online, she said.

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