News & Politics

Report: Out-of-State Drivers Don’t Really Need to Worry About DC Tickets

The city has only 6 workers to handle the roughly half-million vehicles eligible for boots.

Photograph via iStock.

If you’re a driver with unpaid tickets in DC, it turns out you don’t really have to worry about your car being towed. The reason: the city only has six workers to handle the more than 500,000 vehicles that are currently eligible for boots. 

That’s according to FOX 5, which obtained data from DC Councilmember Mary Cheh. The data provide a regional breakdown of the drivers who have two or more unpaid tickets from the city and are therefore eligible to have their vehicles booted and towed away. Of these drivers, according to FOX 5, 335,000 are licensed in Maryland, 167,000 are licensed in Virginia, and 44,000 are licensed in DC.

DC’s Department of Public Works, however, is only able to boot an average of 35 to 50 of these vehicles a day. At that rate, according to FOX 5, the city would need around 25 years to work through the backlog. 

In an interview with FOX 5, Cheh noted that in addition to the millions of dollars in lost revenue for the city, the enforcement shortfall makes the city less safe for pedestrians. “If we’re going to have cameras and we’re going to catch people running red lights or speeding, and they’re going to get a citation, it’s irrelevant about how we’re going to change behavior if these citations are just thrown in the trash,” Cheh said.

One way to help alleviate the backlog, Cheh said, is to require residents of Maryland and Virginia to pay off their outstanding DC tickets before they can renew their drivers’ licenses in their home states. (This is currently the case for DC residents.) Lucinda Babers, DC’s Deputy Mayor for Operations and Infrastructure, said the city has asked the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments to help the region’s three jurisdictions work out a solution on the issue of ticket reciprocity.

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.