Parking ticket despite displaying a visitor pass?

Photo by PoPville flickr user JoshBassett|PHOTOGRAPHY

“Dear PoPville,

I just got a ticket and I can’t understand why, or what to do about it.

My parents live just outside DC, and I occasionally borrow their car for a few days at a time and leave it parked on my street. This morning I had a $100 ticket for “failing to secure DC tags” despite a valid Visitor Parking Pass clearly visible on the dashboard. The pass doesn’t expire until Sept. 30.

The ticket also claims that they issued a warning on July 29th, though I never saw it. I don’t know if they put it on the car (in which case it must have blown away) or mailed it (in which case it must have gotten lost in the mail).

In any case, does that really mean that a car with Maryland plates can’t visit the District twice, 6 weeks apart? Since I had the parking pass I don’t know what else I could have possibly done. Does this mean my parents risk a ticket every time they drive and park at my house?

It wouldn’t be too inconvenient for me to visit the courthouse and argue the ticket in person, do you think it’s worth a try?”

Side Note: Another reader sends yesterday:

“I can’t say I’m in the habit of reading government reports, but this one caught my attentionDC’s office of the inspector general started looking into the red light cameras, speed cameras, and parking tickets issued by various agencies. One senior official in DC is quoted as saying that the traffic ticket system means that you are “guilty until proven innocent…and this system has worked incredibly well for us [DC? elected officials?].” Anyway, I thought it may be of interest to POPville readers, as many of us get tickets we think we don’t deserve, but pay anyway…and, as it turns out, we might be right.”

43 Comment

  • ah

    This is a ROSA violation. If your car is spotted twice within a month your thought to be a resident. You have to prove you are not, with a lease, utility bills, etc.

    Look into ROSA and how to address the law, and then use that to appeal your ticket.

  • The “Failure to secure DC tags” violation is totally different than the resident parking program. DC DMV has a program called “Registration of Out-of-State Vehicles (ROSA),” designed to prevent people who live in DC from keeping their out of state registration.

    From the ROSA program website:
    “Recurring Visitors (frequent short term visits) are to report to any DMV service location, except for our Inspection Station, and prove non-DC residency by presenting their out-of-state issued driver license or identification card, copy of their original lease, deed or mortgage statement and a current utility bill (issued within 60 days) representing the same address and the valid registration card for the vehicle in question. All documents must be in the name of the registered owner of the vehicle.”

  • Yeah dude if they see your car with multiple vistor permits you are going to get a ticket. If they didn’t do this everyone could avoid registering the car and getting parking permits by just keep getting new visitor permits

  • I just dealt with this myself. I have a permanent visitor pass as a homeowner in Ward 5, and my boyfriend uses it when he is over but he is from VA. He got two ROSA violation tickets at 100 bucks each. You have to appeal them online and they will ask you to provide a lease/mortgage, utility bill, and out of state registration. If you give them all that it will be dismissed.

    However it is super annoying that he keeps getting them…whats the point of having a visitor pass if the visitor gets a ticket anyway?

    • Thanks. My parents should have all that paperwork easily enough since they live in the suburbs and own the car. It’ll be a hassle for me but easier than going in to the courthouse.

    • If he’s going to keep visiting, he should apply for a ROSA exemption. Should cut down on the likelihood he’ll get a tickt in the future (and maybe make it more straightforward to appeal?).

      • Yeah unfortunately ROSA exemptions are super specific and having a frequent visitor doesn’t count. You have to be a home health care provider/student/active duty military and that’s pretty much it. So until then DC will just waste resources ticketing and then working my appeal through the process. Its such a time/resources suck.

        • Are you sure about that? They don’t mention anything about these specific requirements anywhere on their web page (It just says “frequent visitor”), and from many other parking discussions on PoPville this has never come up.

        • You’re confusing ROSA with non-resident parking permits, which do have pretty strict regulations about who qualifies. ROSA (registration of out-of-state auto) is a way to let DC know that this out-of-state vehicle is in fact owned and driven by someone who lives out of the district, not a DC resident trying to dodge DC taxes and registration. It doesn’t give you any parking privileges (you’d still need the visitor pass for that).

        • I don’t think this is correct. You sound like you’re describing a reciprocity permit (which is a parking permit), not ROSA (which is NOT a parking permit.) As Anon 3:25 points out, the web page says nothing about the requirements you mention.

  • Could the warning notice been given when your parents parked their car in DC at one point? You wouldn’t have seen it then.

    I’ve noticed greater scrutiny very recently in Adams Morgan, especially around Kalorama Park. The cars who for months were parking one space just in front of/behind designated parking spots are getting dinged daily.

  • Taken from the WaPo article on Speed Camera findings:

    The comment of a certain “senior District official,” who is granted anonymity in the report, figures to be widely shared in conversation and on social media: “One of the beauties of parking, it’s like the [Internal Revenue Service]. If you get a parking ticket, you are guilty until you have proven yourself innocent …. And that’s worked well for us.”

  • It’s no biggie- you can appeal online but make sure to provide evidence. I sometimes find it’s worth it to just go down there. I got some of these tickets before I moved in with my bf (VA plates) and then one even after I had DC plates! Failure to show inspection or something. All thrown out by DC DMV. Good luck!

  • Went through this myself and got two of those tickets. You can’t bring the car back anymore, and DO NOT use the 30 day pass the police station gives you. That will not protect your car.

  • I had this exact scenario happen to me two years ago. They said they gave me warning tickets that I never got, so then I got the angry “you’re late!” letter, despite the fact that the car was legally parked on a DC street with a valid visitors pass. I took photos of my plates, the visitors pass, etc. and contested it online. It took them about 7 months, but they did finally waive the tickets.

  • That’s pretty rude. OP is occasionally parking a car with a legal pass on the street. If it was a boyfriend/girlfriend visiting for the weekend once in a while (an actual visitor by your standards), they would be in the exact same situation– as commenter MAR has experienced.
    It is clearly a failure of parking enforcement, NOT something OP deserved because they were ‘gaming the system’. End rant.

    • It’s neither the OP gaming the system OR a failure of parking enforcement.
      Parking enforcement did what ti’s supposed to – they identified a car with MD plates that is in DC a lot.
      If a visitor from out of state wants to routinely park in the city, the city asks (via ROSA) that the owner of the car demonstrate they are not in fact a resident of the city. This way the city knows the difference between cars owned by actual visitors and by people who really live in the city and are trying to dodge DC registration.
      OP didn’t know understand or know about ROSA (and based on comment above is confusing it with getting a parking permit for an out-of-state vehicle) and thought a parking permit for the guest was enough. Now that they’ve found out it isn’t, the boyfriend can fill out ROSA forms and get on parking enforcement’s list of cars that are cool.

      • Parking a car in a large city adjacent to the state one lives in every six weeks or so is NOT often. I do think DC’s issuance of tickets randomly to visitors is most obnoxious. Sure, I get that they want people who LIVE in DC to register their cars here, but it seems like it would make sense to somehow go after people based on the fact that they LIVE here (through tax records, through DC driver’s license records, etc.) rather than the cars of random visitors to the city. That really should be illegal.

  • I’m with anon:248. This is rude and another failure of DC parking.

    It frosts me all the more because something similar happened to me, although my family got tagged for RPP despite a valid visitor permit. It showed up as a second notice 5 months later. We never saw the original or the “first notice”. Months later, I’d thrown out the visitor permit. I complained, and parking said “the police station can provide the documentation that you had a visitor permit”. The police said “they need to call us directly; we can’t give you that.” Parking said “they need to give it to you, we won’t call them. You lose.”

    And all this ROSA stuff … there are SOOOO many permanent Maryland and VA cars in my neighborhood. Same neighbors, same cars, been parking there for many (3+) years. Some are business trucks. Sometimes they’re in driveways, behind the house, sometimes on the street. How is parking aggressive enough to catch the innocent yet letting the hard cases get by? Neighborhood dependent, I guess, but still …

  • houseintherear

    With all due respect to the OP… Of course this is a money-making situation by DC. But it is also a way to keep every household from having frequent visitors who use their parking passes. What if, every Thursday for example, every house on a particular block had a visitor come and park with a visitors’ pass on the street? This would be a terrible situation for residents, and an unfair one. At least the city’s selfish ($) viligance in this situation helps keep parking available for those of us who live here, and encourages visitors to take train, bus, cab, Uber, whatever to get into the city to visit. That’s how it should be… especially as the “dense” neighborhoods continue sprawling east and more and more people live in DC. I personally don’t even understand why anyone gets a visitors parking pass- it’s ridiculous.

    • Visitor passes seem pretty infrequent to me. I’ve gotten one every two years, maybe? Is there any data to suggest they’re being abused as you suggest? For myself, having lived in both Petworth and Cap Hill, I think the “terrible, unfair situation” for residents is to not be able to have visitors. I’d much rather not have street parking than to not have my friends and family be able to park. Train, bus, cab, are you kidding? Let’s take a two hour drive and turn it into a 3.5 hour trip that costs twice as much (via parking at metro). Many visitors to DC don’t have trains and bus options. And I want them to drive — so that I can borrow their car for errands! The way it should be is that DC residents are the ones without [full time] cars!

    • So…i should tell MD and VA friends they are no longer invited to my house on Friday nights, because they might get ticketed….?

  • The visitor pass is meant for daytime visitors like contractors, childcare, maids, etc. who are staying for more than 2 hours and then going home. It’s only valid during the times stated on street signs for that zone. I really wish the city would have explained this when they created the visitor passes rather than see this topic on popville every week!

    • Anonymous 3:24, then why do they issue them for multiple days at a time? Should my overnight guests have to pay to park in a garage?

      • I think you and Anon 3:24 are talking about different VPPs. There are the ones that were automatically mailed out to residences zoned for RPP and there are the ones that can be obtained from your local MPD station.

  • Just out of curiosity, where do you live (or what zone do you park in)? I’ve been doing this same thing off an on for about a year (had the car in DC quite a bit this summer though) and am waiting for the day that they ticket me too.

    However, I will say that half the time I go get a visitor permit they don’t even record it…so I haven’t been overly concerned until now!

  • I got one too a few years back while doing a long term house/pet sit job. Just have your parents fill out the ROSA form and they will put you on some “list” so you won’t be ticketed. I think it’s good for 6 months.

  • When I first moved to DC, and had a rental car with out-of-state plates for awhile until I bought one, and a co-worker told me about this, that I’d likely be ticketed if I parked on the street in DC, I thought this was the craziest thing I had ever heard of. I still do.

    It is one thing to require residents of DC to register their cars here – all states do that. It is another thing to harass all visitors to the city with tickets on the assumption that they must be living here. I’ve never heard of another city that did that!

    • DC is unique, but this is something they had to do as so many people do not register their cars in DC when they move here. It has been a longtime problem and ROSA is the only way to assist in the enforcement.

      It’s not “harassing” visitors, it is about enforcing registration rules.

      • I don’t agree. DC is not unique this way at all. Other cities with adjacent or close by different states nearby have the same problem – New York, Boston, to a name a few. I’m sure there are others – these are just ones I’m familiar with. And it doesn’t only affect close by or adjacent states – we’ve all known people in cities who kept cars registered in far-flung states, usually at their parents homes, to save on insurance costs.

        BUT – it IS harassment. DC issues tickets without having any credible evidence that the owners of said cars live in DC.

  • Folks issuing parking tickets in DC are awful-awful-awful!!!! I had this exact same problem (secured a visitor pass from local police station for my brother’s truck) and displayed it but still received a hefty ticket… Then a friend was visiting so we went to the local police station, displayed the visitor pass, and he got a $100 ticket too!!! It’s like they don’t look or don’t care… I also heard they still issue tickets to visitors because they are betting on visitors won’t/can’t go through the appeal process so they will just have to pay.

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