A bill that would reduce the penalties for failing to pay parking and speeding tickets and allow the payment of fines through community service was approved unanimously by the D.C. Council earlier this month.
Under current D.C. law, parking and speeding fines double if left unpaid for 30 days. If enacted, the proposed amendment to the 1978 District of Columbia Traffic Adjudication Act would institute a 60-day period before the fines increase. The bill would further end the suspension of driver’s licenses due to unpaid tickets or missed court hearings and would establish a Community Service Debt Repayment Program.
A report written by the Council’s Transportation Committee found that current traffic “adjudication laws [arguably] amount to a debt-trap for low-income individuals.”
However, the committee found that the amendment, first proposed in March of 2017, would reduce D.C.’s traffic fine and penalty revenue by nearly $125 million over four years, while increasing costs for the government by nearly $700,000 over the same period.
At press time, Mayor Muriel Bowser had yet to sign or veto the bill. Given the support of all 13 members, the Council could vote to override a veto.