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Drivers who fight tickets mostly succeed

Almost 60 percent of drivers who went to court last year after being ticketed for moving violations in the District had their cases dismissed, according to an analysis by the American Automobile Association.

The AAA found that an even higher percentage -- almost 8 in 10 -- of contested photo red light citations were dismissed. Each year, the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles collects payments for more than 2.4 million tickets, the AAA data showed.

"Although only a fraction of ticketed motorists even bother to contest or appeal their tickets, it stands to reason that those who decide to appear before a District ticket adjudicator or to contest the ticket in writing have a far better chance of winning their cases than those who don't," said AAA spokesman John B. Townsend II.

-- Ashley Halsey III

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 27, 2010; 2:54 PM ET
Categories:  Driving  
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People succeed at fighting these tickets because the District's evidince is flimsy at best. Not only that, but the District deliberately sends out erroneous tickets to innocent drivers hoping that they will just pay the fine, because it's cheaper and easier than showing up for court.

If everyone who got an erroneous ticket actually took the time to fight it, I'm sure the DC camera program would be out of business by now. I've gotten three in the past few months that are in error that I have to fight. Tow of the tickets show a vehicle I do not own, while a third shows a vehicle passing me, which is the cause of the speed camera tripping.

Photo enforcement seems all fine and dandy until a jurisdiction starts utilizing it as a source of revenue!

Posted by: Russtinator | April 27, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

You could also conclude that people accurately assess their likelihood of winning and only contest the ticket when they have a good case. These statistics are useless without some information about why or how people choose to contest or not. If only people with solid evidence of their innocence contest, then the 60-80% win rate is terrible.

Posted by: amr11 | April 27, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

@amr11, Totally agree!

Posted by: VoiceofReason77 | April 28, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

It appears that D.C. isn't the only city where drivers who appeal tickets are walking away scot-free.

Here are some examples:

* In Los Angeles, more than 124,000 tickets were issued to innocent drivers amounting to nearly $6 million in tickets that were dismissed after being fought and won. (Source: LA Times)

* Drivers ticketed in Boston had tickets dismissed more than 60% of the time. (Source: Boston Globe)

* Last year, Chicago courts dismissed about 75% of tickets (in a three month period) after hearing officers ruled that drivers were not liable or the ticket contained errors. (Source: Chicago Tribune)

* New York City drivers are finding it harder to get tickets dismissed since the city introduced a settlement program. Still, 22% percent of challengers had tickets dismissed in 2008. (Source: The NY Times)

So, obviously there is an issue with not only the ticketing system in the District, but in cities nationwide. This is a widespread problem, as most drivers are discovering, no matter where they park.

Kristin Nevels
AAA Mid-Atlantic, Public & Government Affairs

Posted by: krisnevels | April 28, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

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