- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 28, 2006

Residents who ignore the District’s license-plate registration laws typically go unticketed for as long as two months, even though they can be ticketed every night, city officials said.

D.C. law requires people who live in the city for more than 30 days to register their cars with the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or face a $100 ticket every day.

But the law is loosely enforced, and residents frequently ignore it while keeping their vehicles registered elsewhere, officials said.

“You can avoid it for a while, but eventually you would get a warning and a ticket,” said Mary Myers, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Works. “It would take less than three or four months.”

D.C. officials use an automated system known as Register Out of State Automobiles to record the tags of vehicles registered elsewhere that areconsistently parked overnight within city boundaries.

Miss Myers said 16 enforcers patrol the city overnight Monday through Friday to find out-of-state tags, then enter them into the system.

A warning citation is issued when the same tag is seen twice within 15 days. The vehicle is ticketed if the same tag is seen again 15 days later, she said.

But the 16 enforcers patrol only two of the city’s eight wards every night, Miss Myers said, and vehicles can easily be missed if they are moved or away when enforcement drives by the location.

There are about 16,000 curbside spaces in the District, and parking is generally at capacity, officials said.

They also said it is impossible to tell how many of those spaces are used illegally by drivers registered elsewhere.

Drivers often do not transfer their registration to the District to avoid waiting in line at the DMV or to avoid paying new registration and inspection fees and likely increases to their car insurance.

Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, said such vehicles are a problem in his area, which includes Adams Morgan.

He said street parking in Ward 1 neighborhoods is almost impossible to find at night and on weekends, and drivers from outside the District are to blame.

“It’s a huge problem,” Mr. Graham said. “It’s about people who, principally for insurance reasons, want to keep their out-of-state tags. They are living in D.C. They own houses and apartments, but they want the Maryland insurance fees. That is a real problem.”

He also said the automated program and sketchy enforcement is not enough to keep drivers in check.

Mr. Graham said the D.C.Council must do more to stiffen the penalties on residents who do not register their cars.

“It’s about how much energy this is getting,” he said. “We have to approach this more aggressively.”

Lon Anderson, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said the D.C. government must strike a balance between respecting out-of-state visitors and reasonable enforcement of the law.

“I’m glad to see that they aren’t ticketing that quickly, then on the other hand there are residents who want them to ticket on the 31st day,” he said. “We certainly understand both sides.”

Mr. Anderson said the best solution is to increase the number of parking spaces available to residents and nonresidents.

“We wish that the District would do a better job increasing capacity and stop punishing people who own cars,” he said.


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