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DC reports millions of dollars in unpaid tickets

A FOIA request reveals that 2022 saw millions of unpaid tickets totaling more than $889 million.

WASHINGTON — A FOIA request to D.C.'s Department of Public Works (DPW) reveals millions of dollars in unpaid tickets in 2022. In some cases, single drivers owe thousands on their own.

Last week, a Lyft driver and his two passengers were killed after a driver and their passenger slammed into their car on Rock Creek Parkway.

A license plate search on that car shows $12,600 in unpaid tickets, mostly for speeding. They range from May 2022 to March 2023.

Last month, Columbia Heights neighbors complained of a driver crashing into three of their parked cars. A license plate search in that case showed more than $4,000 in unpaid citations.

To try to find out what the city is doing to solve this persistent problem, WUSA9's Jess Arnold submitted a FOIA request to DPW.

It revealed that in 2022, DPW reported 4,202,669 unpaid citations totaling $889,187,824.

When asked how they go after repeat violators, they said, "DPW does not track repeat violators. We only write infractions based on the violations."

One Columbia Heights neighbor whose car was hit suggested booting more cars.

DPW said, "Vehicles are boot eligible after two unpaid tickets that are 60 days old."

In 2022, they said parking enforcement booted about 783 cars a month, peaking in quarter three and four at about 1,050 a month.

So far in 2023, they said PEMA is averaging 550 a month.

Some believe slapping a boot on a car isn't the answer, though, and can be an inequitable response.

Regardless of what's being done already, cases of repeat offenders are prompting neighbors to say the city needs to do more to get them off the roads.

The Columbia Heights neighbor said they hit a dead end when it came to holding the driver accountable.

In the case of the driver who caused the fatal crash of the Lyft driver and his passengers, WUSA9 is still waiting to hear about any potential charges.


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