Thursday, October 10, 2013

DC Council Examines Ticket Adjudication Process

WTOP reports that the DC council is considering a bill which would alter the ticket adjudication process.  The Traffic Adjudication Amendment Act of 2013 would require the DMV to rule on appeals within 6 months or automatically dismiss citations, and also permit drivers to reopen cases "if there's new evidence that clearly demonstrates their innocence."
Read Text of Bill
Many drivers think these measures will fix what they call a broken system. 
"It's their position that they're right. We don't really have a lot we can say," said Jocelyn Johnson, who testified at the hearing before the council's Committee on Transportation and the Environment. "No matter what you tell them, you have to go through so many hoops. It goes above and beyond because they don't have a process to give you the benefit of anything."

That sentiment has been echoed many times to WTOP since the Ticketbuster series launched earlier this year. Many drivers are upset with the DMV over what they see as red tape and a lack of customer service. Some feel the department's hearing examiners are predisposed to finding ways to rule against drivers on challenged tickets.

DMV Director Lucinda Babers disagreed with that assessment when asked about whether the process is fair.

"Absolutely I believe so," Babers said. "I review hundreds of these cases. If I believed they weren't, then I'd do something about it if they have evidence to support it."
WTOP reports that DC writes 1.8-2million tickets for various types of violations every year.  For parking and speed camera tickets which are appealed the city is not required to meet the standard of "beyond reasonable doubt", but only "preponderance of evidence" or "clear and convincing evidence" respectively, which is a far lower standard in legal terms.  WTOP found several cases where motorists had been fined for violations issued to a license plate which they had surrendered years earlier, and reported that they frequently hear complaints of "poor customer service" with respect to DC tickets. 

The Transportation and Environment committee, chaired by Councilwoman Mary Cheh, must now review the bill's language and decide whether to change, approve or kill it.

Read complete story on WTOP