Honest Mistake or Fabricating Evidence?


A reader reported back in April:

“Why is DC DPW issuing bogus tix? Parked at location for 51mins, it’s NOT a zone 2 RPP ONLY as stated.”

And follow up this morning:

“Tix dismissed, but no answer from DC DPW regarding ofc fabricating pic ‘evidence’ from diff location”


67 Comment

  • While DPW does a lot of shady things (sending out parking enforcement at 3 am, ticketing multiple times within a few hours, etc), I think this was an honest mistake. Considering how easy it is to get a ticket dismissed via mail or email, I doubt anyone would think they could get away with it. I’m sure DPW officers are under a ton of pressure to reach quotas and probably make mistakes a lot.

    • Parking enforcement isn’t shady at 3:00 AM. It’s for ROSA violations and some of the best tax payer dollars we spend. If you move to DC, register your car here like an adult. If you’re parking overnight every night, get a ROSA exemption like an adult (after your one free warning)

      • Nothing I love more than my street filled with Maryland registered vehicles all the time!

        • My problem is that I live on one of the actually unzoned streets in DC, but yet dpw still seems to want to ticket for not having a DC plate.

          • They’re ticketing because you need to either register your car in DC or get a ROSA exemption. Has nothing to with zones.

          • Yeah, if you live in DC you need to either register your car in DC or park your car on private property. And generally speaking, if you live in DC take the time to look up the rules on stuff that affects you, it’ll save you hassle and the embarrassment of ignorance.

  • Consider yourself lucky for getting it dismissed. I received a disobeying official sign and failure to display registration ticket when I had my new registration sitting on my dashboard next to my expired registration. It was one day expired and I was waiting until I had time to clean the old sticker and residue off. The DPW officer – also D. Williams – took a photo of the old registration from a low angle so you couldn’t see the new registration sitting right next to the expired sticker.

    • justinbc

      +1, anytime you get a ticket actually dismissed in this city it’s time to crack open a beer and consider yourself very lucky. I’m pretty sure someone just sits there all day hitting the reject button so that you have to go to appeals.

      • I’m surprised to hear you say this. Of the 5 tickets I’ve contested (3 of which were for not registering my car to DC when I lived in VA), 4 have been dismissed.

        Guess I should knock on wood?

      • SouthwestDC

        It’s been years since I’ve gotten a ticket, but I’ve contested around a dozen (including some D. Williams ones) and all but one was dismissed. Of course the one that wasn’t dismissed had a $250 fine so it made up for all the others 😉

        • I think the adjudication department now has a maximum on the number of appeals they’re allowed to grant — I had no problem when I appealed a few unjustified parking tickets in the mid-2000s, but my appeal of an unjustified parking ticket from 2012 was rejected. (And I had only one chance to appeal, because I’d never received the original ticket and didn’t know anything about it until I received a notification by mail telling me that the fine had doubled.)

          • I don’t think going 0/1 in 2012 equates to them having a cap of appeals allowed now.

          • JohnH — Not necessarily, but my protest included a photo of the signpost I was parked to (at the end of a metered stretch) showing that it had three parking-related signs attached but none regarding street cleaning (the restriction I inadvertently violated).
            I thought that kind of photo evidence would be a slam dunk for getting my ticket overturned. Instead, the appeal was rejected with an explanation saying I should have driven around the block to see if there were any other signs.

          • textdoc–I had the exact same response to the exact same situation (and I also submitted pictures of the signs on either side of my car and thought it was a slam dunk). It’s the only one of my 5 protests I lost. I think that is just actually their response to this situation. I think it is drastically unfair, but that seems to be the position.

      • I’m 2 for 3 on successfully arguing for dismissal in the last year, and one of my “wins” I absolutely did not deserve.

    • I’m pretty sure the sticker being adhered is part of displaying the registration. So that ticket was legit.
      I’ve gotten erroneous tickets dismissed easily. Two meters on one pole had different starting times and the one I was at hadn’t started when I was ticketed. That’s an easy mistake to write off, I assume the DPW employee read the other meter and not mine, because it’s strange that they’re different.
      Once I paid for 2 hours at a meter where you put the ticket on your dash and I inexplicably got ticketed 19 minutes into my paid time. I also got that dismissed, but was pretty steamed about having to fight such an obviously idiot ticket.

      • But he had 2 displayed; why ignore the valid one?
        The law is not displaying a valid registration as opposed to displaying an invalid one. Semantics until you have both present.

        • Because they don’t count it as “displayed” unless it’s stuck to the glass.
          I think I’ve also heard of tickets being written for people who had an outdated registration sticker stuck to the glass, as well as their current registration sticker.

          • Something like that happened to me. I’d moved from DC to VA and had my new VA inspection sticker on the windshield. But because it took the DMV four months to switch over the license/registration I still had my DC registration sticker on there too. The ticketing officer didn’t like that.

          • Also a ticket to simultaneously display two valid RPPs from two different zones (happened to me because I was moving and had overlapping leases).

        • Because the valid one was not adhered and so was not, in fact, valid.

          • I’ll color myself lucky because I had an unaffixed sticker for a year without issue. I think the glue melted from the heat or something but good to know for the next one.

        • The actual law is:

          “422.7 Validation stickers issued by the Director that indicate the expiration of a motor vehicle’s registration period are required to be displayed as follows:
          (a) For vehicles registered prior to April 22, 2002, and all motorized bicycles, motorcycles, and trailers, the stickers shall be affixed to the tags; the month sticker placed at the lower left corner and the year sticker placed at the lower right corner; and
          (b) For vehicles not listed in (a), the sticker shall be affixed to the inside of the vehicle’s windshield, on the driver’s side.”
          Pretty sure the law is written that way to discourage people from swapping one sticker between multiple cars.

  • I got a parking ticket once for parking without a permit. The ticket was placed on the windshield *directly on top of my valid permit* which was clearly visible through the windshield. I am convinced these nincompoops knowingly give out bogus tickets on the assumption that people won’t bother to fight it since doing so is a pain the tuchus. Sigh.

  • I recently got a ticket outside of politics and prose for street cleaning. I always check the parking sign posts on either end of my parking zone, no mention of street cleaning. After I saw the ticket I did realize that all the way at the end of the block (after a bus zone and not next a parking zone) there was a separate post with a street cleaning sign. Guess I need to walk to entire length of the block every time I park…

  • Because it’s their business model?

  • 1. The ticket writer made a mistake.
    2. You spent 10 minutes pointing out the mistake using mail adjudication.
    3. The ticket was dismissed.
    What exactly are you upset about here? Ticket writers are human beings who will occasionally make mistakes. This is about as painless a fix for that mistake that I can imagine.

  • Anonomnom

    Officer Williams, D. is terrible. I’ve gotten 6 total tickets thrown out that he wrote me, all of which were completely bogus. All DC ever does is issue a post card saying the city “failed to meet its burden.”
    I wonder if DC tracks the number thrown out per ticket writer? Because seriously… Every fraudulent ticket I’ve gotten has been written by this guy/gal.

    • ugh… if I parked in the area he works in a lot, and that happened to me often, I’d want to make an official complaint. Streets just west of Connecticut Ave, below Mass. Ave., right?

      I bet they don’t keep track of bogus tickets dismissed, but I bet they do track revenue by ticket-writer – in which case, D. Williams is likely a prize employee. Because I’m sure not all bogus tickets do get dismissed.

    • SouthwestDC

      I caught D. Williams writing me a ticket once, and asked her what it was for. I pointed out that the infraction she was writing me up for was simply untrue, but she wrote the ticket anyway, so then I had to contest it online at which point it was dismissed. I guess she’s providing a lot of jobs in the adjudication department.

    • I assumed D. Williams was the DPW version of John Doe. Do you really think there’s just one person named D. Williams who’s writing most of the tickets in DC?? I’ve gotten tickets in Georgetown and in Columbia Heights, both with that name.

  • Yes, they definitely fabricate tickets, I think to reach their quotas. I got one where I’d paid via the cellphone app with the correct 5 digit code on the meter. The zone number on the ticket was different than the parking zone number in my text confirmation that I had paid – it was two digits off.
    I noticed the ticket while I was driving home. So I drove back to see if I had inadvertently typed in the wrong zone number. No, I had typed it in correctly. The person who wrote the ticket was there again, ticking that block again at the same spot. I pointed this discrepancy out to him, and he took the ticket and said he’d take care of it. (Apparently, he did, I was concerned, so I looked up my plate on the ticket website.)
    He didn’t look at my phone confirmation, he took my word for it, and he didn’t apologize for the error, and the way the whole conversation went made me feel like he had done what he did on purpose. I can’t swear to it, but his name may have been D. Williams. The last name was some man’s first name – either that or Thomas.

  • If I was a reporter, say for a city paper, I’d want to follow this guy around for half a day, talk to the people he wrote tickets to that were bogus, take photos, and write an expose.

  • Mistakes get made by parking enforcement from time to time because they are humans like the rest of us. I am 100% in favor of aggressive parking enforcement (one minute past the deadline etc) because drivers will push the limits of the parking rules every time. Without good enforcement, the rules are meaningless.

  • At least your ticket didn’t have snarky language on the “Violation” line. Whoever does the ticketing on my block seemed to inject a bit of attitude on the tickets I’ve gotten recently (Things like “SIGN IS CLEARLY MARKED”)

    • Actually, I think writing the sign is clearly marked is a legal standard they have to met in order to write the ticket. Although, i could see them writing it with snark as well.

    • That’s just to cover themselves. I believe now they even take pictures to have as proof (i.e. if you claim the sign was missing or something).

    • I would think most of the comments are autofills from a pre-written selection, that one included.

  • Anyone else get a ticket at a parking meter for which the hours requiring payment had been updated using a freaking label maker? They could have at least put the label somewhere noticeable, such as, maybe, next to the original hours requiring payment. Guess I’m supposed to check every inch of the meter for addenda now.

  • Parking downtown one day I got a ticket two minutes after my parkmobile parking expired – and seconds before I came out to get the car. Then I noticed that the dude was hanging out watching time count down on his side of parkmobile, ready to write a ticket. It seems a little unfair to be stalked like that.

    • It sucks, but I don’t see that it counts as “unfair.”

    • Why would it be unfair when you can get a text message sent to you by the parkmobile app?

      • I think he meant it was a little unfair because he basically moved at the time he was supposed to, while other people have their cars sitting their hours past the limit without repercussions if an officer doesn’t decide to hover there. But that’s just the luck of the draw.

  • I end up protesting about half the parking tickets i have gotten to date in dc and usually succeed in getting them cancelled. No explanation is ever provided – other than something along the lines of ticket does not meet burden of proof of a violation or something along those lines. I think the meter maids have minimal quotas to meet, and bonuses also depend on tickets – so they are highly motivated. Many of these were completely bogus. One time i was ticketed for parking at a “no-parking zone” – in reality, my car was parked at a 4 hr parking meter spot on a sunday (i.e. there was no possible meter fee or expiration issue) and i submitted photos with my protest. Another time i got ticketed for faulty registration stickers dc govt had sent out – they kept warping and coming off the windshield, and i got a ticket for not properly registering the car, as if its my fault the damn sticker was bad – and the car was definitely registered! So i am not surprised by anything they do….

  • Words to live by: never attribute to malice what can easily be explained by incompetence

  • This cant be serious. You got the ticket dismissed and yet youre still complaining? Get over it.

  • So happy my interactions with police have dropped to ZERO since finally giving up my car many years ago. Anyone who can reasonably get along without owning a car really should give it a try.

    • SouthwestDC

      We need our car (jobs and family are all in the suburbs) but the only place it’s ever parked in DC is on a street zoned for our RPP zone. Haven’t had any tickets since we moved here 5 years ago.

    • justinbc

      See my post below. Not owning a car doesn’t keep you from getting parking tickets in DC.

    • LOL, like they just deal with all this nonsense for fun? Pretty sure people are car owners by necessity, not choice.

  • I wonder if “D. Williams” is a fake name used by a bunch of traffic enforcement officers?
    If I were in their shoes, I sure as heck would not want my real name on the ticket.

  • DC1

    Not sure the comment the officer added “Zone 2 RPP Permit Only” can be considered an honest mistake… it definitely looks like an attempt to issue an BS ticket in hopes the driver just pays the fine instead of dealing with the adjudication process.

    D. Williams once gave me a “no standing or parking any time” ticket and after looking at the photo evidence he/she provided, it was clear that he/she took the picture of a sign in a completely different street two blocks down.

  • I call it a “DC City Tax”.

    I’ve gotten probably half a dozen completely bogus, made up parking tickets over the years. I am that annoying person who will give up days of personal time to fight one and save 50 bucks for the principal of the thing so I got them all dismissed, but I only stopped getting them when I got off street parking.

    DPW’s ticket-eers are notorious for making it up as they go.

  • justinbc

    Email correspondence between myself and former council member Wells (and subsequent council member staff) regarding a falsified ticket I was issued, for your entertainment pleasure:

    Hello Mr. Wells, I hope with all of the busy work you’ve got going on in your campaign (we live in Capitol Hill and you’ve got both of our votes!) that you find some time, either before or after, to pass this issue along to the appropriate person. Any help or advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated. There’s obviously no rush, as they’ve already acted, but it’s never too late to pursue something that should be rectified, in my view.

    So about 6-12 months ago (I forget how long it’s been now) I received a parking ticket in the mail for blocking a driveway. The kicker is I don’t own a car and haven’t since December 2011 (I’m a huge BikeShare proponent like yourself). I called 311 to speak to someone about it and she pulled up the ticket online which clearly showed the officer had written the wrong license plate number on the ticket versus what was shown in the photo of the car. I guess that incorrect plate # linked to me somehow? Not really sure, but somehow it found its way to my address. She said there’s no way I should be responsible because of the obvious photographic error, and transferred me over to someone in charge of ticketing (DPW maybe?), but I just got the voicemail of that woman, and naturally she never returned my message. So I mailed in my appeal stating my pretty simple to resolve case, and a few months later received a notice that my appeal was rejected due to a “preponderance of evidence against me”. Ummm, OK, if anything there’s a “preponderance” the other way, so I sent in my second appeal to “The Board” along with a check which is required to further appeal any ticket, just in case they still disagree with you. At this point I was considering just saying screw this and have them come after me if they really care to, but I wanted to fight this one just on principle alone. Well I noticed today they actually cashed the check a while back and never even sent a followup letter explaining why, after reviewing 2 obvious pieces of information 1) I don’t own a car and 2) wrong license plate number.
    So, my question is, do you know who to take this to further? It’s only $30, an insignificant amount, but the fact that 1) an officer got it wrong, 2) the person who reviewed my appeal ignored obvious facts, and 3) the entire appeals board ignored obvious facts, really has me quite pissed off. I know if it’s happening to me it’s happening to others too, on much higher ticket fines. This kind of blatant disregard for the citizenry who pays their salaries shouldn’t be tolerated.
    Good Afternoon Justin,
    I received your email and I can ask DMV to look into this issue. I will need some information from you in order to do this- your DC tags ,ticket number and any supporting documents that you have.
    Patricia Joseph
    Hi Pat, apologies for the delay in responding, but I was doing some spring cleaning and finally found a copy of the ticket number that I received from DMV Adjudication Services: 811XXXXXX. I realize this is well past the date the ticket was received, but based on the circumstances below hopefully something can be done about it. Thanks again for your time.
    Good Morning Wanda Butler,
    Is it possible to look into the status of ticket # 811XXXX ? Please see the email below from Mr. Justin Cook. He was ticketed for blocking a driveway but he doesn’t currently on a car and hasn’t since 2011 and the wrong license number was written on the ticket. The attached email will explain the details further.
    Patricia Joseph
    This ticket is still pending review by the Appeals Board.
    Lucinda Babers
    Hi Justin- Ms. Babers from DMV said the ticket is still pending review by the Appeals Board.
    Patricia Joseph
    Thanks for following up Patricia. I’m not entirely sure that Ms. Babers’ statement is accurate though, as the notice of appeal was sent to me on 11/20/2013 per the postage stamp and it is now June 2015. Is it normal for appeals to go that long? Additionally, they cashed the $30 appeals check that I submitted, which their procedures say should only be done once a decision is reached. If they could just refund that money I would be happy to consider the matter closed and not have to pursue it anymore.
    Hi Justin – to answer your question about the appeal process I was told it can take 2-3 years sometimes. I’ll see if anymore update is available regarding your refund.
    Patricia Joseph
    …and crickets. So, yeah, I’m not optimistic about the plausibility of the appeals system in DC.

  • I once got a ticket for being allegedly parked two blocks away on a different street and violating some restrictions there … I just gave up and paid it because i didn’t know how I could possibly prove “but i was parked OVER HERE”

  • We received a bogus ticket today. It was for parking with an expired meter, but there was more than 30 minutes left on our mobile parking app. Fighting it obvi.

    • Check to see if the ticket has the wrong zone number, as mine did. If you have the text the app sent you, you should be good even if the zone number is the same.

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