Hip, hip, hooray!
D.C. officials want to give folks who get parking and red-light tickets a break.
Well, some folks.
And, well, a measure of a financial break.
Oh, and it’s a sham, too.
So, a celebration is not yet in order.
The facts first: The D.C. Council is considering legislation that would exempt residents from fines on certain traffic tickets, such as those that double for parking tickets, speeding tickets and red-light running tickets. (A breather for sure.)
The measure, titled the Traffic and Parking Ticket Penalty Amendment Act of 2017, proposes that if a, say, $300 speeding ticket isn’t paid within the 30-day grace period and is paid, say, 10 days late, the ticket would not double to $600.
Introduced by freshman council member Trayon White, Bill 22-0204, however, would not exempt commuters in neighboring Maryland and Virginia, or residents of other states who motor into the nation’s capital for work or school. Tourists who drive themselves or rent cars would not be exempt either.
For sure, the rollback in ticket fines is a poke in the eye to Maryland and Virginia in the name of a commuter tax.
Understand, the city is not permitted to levy a commuter tax for tending to other states’ residents who tend to their jobs in the city.
Indeed, the genesis of the District’s convoluted anti-parking apparatus was designed in the 1970s to sock it to commuters anyway. The so-called residential parking permit is a perfect example of the parking Nazis’ policy reasoning. The RPP policy forces D.C. residents who own vehicles to pay annually to park on their own block, and they have to place a sticker on their windshield to prove they’ve paid the price.
That’s why it’s so daggum interesting that one of the explanations for the exemption from doubling ticket fines is that poor people cannot afford it.
Said Mr. White, who represents Ward 8 on the council: “The average person in D.C., especially in Wards 7, 8 and 5, and parts of 4, [doesn’t] have extra money to give to the government.”
Well, neither does the ordinary working schmo who’s a wage earner or living on a fixed income, or a college student who lives on $1 cups of caffeine from Mickey D’s and Ramen noodles from Family Dollar.
What’s more, D.C. Council members decades ago exempted themselves from parking tickets. (There are extreme circumstances, such as a council member growling at Fido over a fire hydrant.)
And here’s the thorniest rub: How in the dickens is the city going to exempt a resident from the doubling of a red-light, parking or speeding ticket when the vehicle — not the driver, not the resident — is the offender?
Traffic cameras snap photos of vehicles. Is the city going to ask that motorists plaster their photos, driver’s licenses and insurance cards on their rear windshields so cameras can snap them, too?
The sanctuary from the city’s anti-driving Nazis should be given to the D.C.-registered vehicle and the D.C.-licensed motorist.
When and if city officials can get with that program, an update will be in order.
Until then, this too is worth repeating: Nobody has “extra money” to give to the D.C. government.
• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.