Contesting a Moving Violation in the District of Columbia
In D.C. traffic tickets or "notices of infraction" are issued by police officers or hack inspectors. Notices of infraction may be contested at the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before hearing officers at DMV Adjudication Services at 955 L’Enfant Plaza, SW on the Promenade Level. Tickets given to taxicab, limousine or Uber drivers relating to hack violations or vehicle for hire violations may be contested at the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) before administrative law judges at 441 Fourth Street, NW, Suite 450N.
To contest a minor moving violation or a hack violation, your request must be received within 60 calendar days of the ticket issue date. Failure to schedule a hearing within 30 calendar days may result in the ticket fine doubling. Failure to respond to the ticket within 60 calendar days of the date the ticket was issued may result in suspension of your D.C. driver's license or your privilege to drive in D.C. for out of state drivers. After 60 calendar days, you must file a Motion to Vacate to contest the fines or penalties for your ticket. A Motion to Vacate form is [HERE]. You have the option of paying the ticket, which is an admission to the violation, admitting with an explanation or denying the ticket. You may request a hearing in person at DMV Adjudication Services at 955 L’Enfant Plaza, SW on the Promenade Level or at OAH on 441 Fourth Street, NW, Suite 450N for hack infractions. You may also schedule a hearing for a minor moving violation online or by submitting a mail adjudication form [PDF]. Red light, stop sign and speed camera tickets may also be contested by mail, online or in person at a "walk in hearing" at Adjudication Services.
Do not submit any payment if you wish to contest the ticket, regardless of whether you are only disputing the penalty; payment of any portion of a ticket is an admission of guilt and will eliminate your ability to adjudicate any portion of the ticket. Payment of a ticket also may forfeit your ability to contest the legality of a traffic stop (motion to suppress) if you have an underlying criminal case resulting from the stop. If you requested a hearing date by mail, you should receive a notice by mail with the date and time of your hearing.
The DC Department of Public Works (DPW) may tow and impound any parked vehicle if there are 2 or more unpaid, outstanding (overdue) tickets associated with it. The DPW will not release the vehicle from impoundment until all outstanding fines and penalties are paid or unless the underlying tickets are dismissed by the DMV.
Moving violations usually result in points being assessed to your driver record. Points will stay on a DC driving record for two years. For moving violations received out-of-state, DC DMV assesses points according to the point system for the same or similar violation in the District. Therefore, a Virginia two point moving violation may be assessed six points in the District based on the D.C. point system. Also, points can only be assessed on your driver record in your home jurisdiction because you do not actually have a driver record in the out-of-state jurisdiction (unless you previously were licensed in this jurisdiction).
Drivers arrested for major moving violations in the District may be issued an Order of Proposed Suspension or an Order of Proposed Revocation by the arresting police officer. A major moving violation is an infraction that is also punishable as a criminal misdemeanor or felony offense in the D.C. Superior Court. If the police served you with such a notice then you must schedule a permit hearing (a show cause hearing) at the DMV within 10 calendar days if you are a DC resident or within 15 calendar days if you are a non-DC resident.
At a show cause hearing (only for major moving violations), a hearing examiner will take testimony from the arresting officer concerning the circumstances surrounding your charge. At the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing examiner will decide whether to take action against your driver license or driving privileges, such as ordering a suspension or revocation. If you fail to appear at the hearing a default "show cause revocation" will be entered against you - your D.C. license or privilege to drive in D.C. will be revoked and the negative record will appear on your driving record.
Sean Riley represents people in all major and minor traffic cases including criminal traffic offenses, license revocation hearings and moving and non-moving violations in DC.