Trash Violation – Fight It?

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Topic: Trash Violation – Fight It?

Home and Garden February 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Trash Violation – Fight It?

Hello, we just received a trash violation for trash we didn’t leave in our (disgusting) alley.  Sigh.  Is it worth it to contest it at a hearing?  Should we “admit” but send a letter explaining what actually happened?  Why responsible, tax paying citizens get fined for other people’s trash dumping is beyond me…
Thanks in advance!

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What kind of trash was it — small items, or an abandoned mattress or something?  
If the former, I’d say contest it, but if the latter… much as it sucks, when someone leaves bulk trash in your trash pickup spot, it basically becomes YOUR problem and you need to call 311 to get rid of it.
How long was the trash there before you received a violation notice?


Hi Laura.  The same thing happened to us a few months ago and it is such a pain in the butt, sorry to hear it happened to you.  The picture they included in our fine wasn’t even a picture of our house.  Unfortunately the only way to fight the fine is to go to a hearing downtown in the middle of the day.  We wrote a letter explaining the trash was not our and the house in the picture was not ours, but the response was just that our only option was to pay the fine or come downtown.  It’s infuriating. 


FIght it. We did, and eventually got it dismissed.
(Someone dumped trash along our back fence. We reported it and asked for it to be cleaned. Instead, the inspector cited US. I was rather upset. We protested. We won.)

Fight it if you have the time and energy.  I did successfully twice.  First time, the inspector did not show up so all cases were dismissed (after the judge had us sit around for about 20 minutes after the scheduled time – somehow I doubt the same courtesy would have been extended to me if I was the one who was late, but anyway…).  Turns out my neighbor’s grandchildren had destroyed a chair and they placed it in front of our fence since they have a driveway.  Second time the inspector could not provide proof the trash bag belonged to me (it didn’t).  The judge did ask point blank if the inspector searched the bag in question and found any items with an address or name (she didn’t find anything).  While the citations were unfounded, I found the hearing process to be very fair and I had a chance to explain my side.

This happened to me a few years ago. Two houses over was having major renovations and the garbage area in the back lot was always a mess. Something with my address on it (amazon box or something like that) ended up somewhere it shouldn’t have been in the ally and I got a letter, ticket, and photocopy of the boxtop with my address.
I responded with a letter disputing the ticket and went on about the poor state of the ally and mess from the construction company. I never heard from them again and was forced told to pay the ticket.


Hi! I got a trash violation at my house a few months ago. It was pictures of a garbage bag in my backyard. It was clearly my trash, so I just admitted guilt with the explanation that the person that took the pictures couldn’t prove the bag was there for more than the 100 seconds it took them to take the three pictures that came with our violation. Plus, it took DC three months to even get us a copy of the ticket and they were trying to charge us all these late fees, blah blah blah. They eventually responded and we got the fee knocked down from $75 to $35. So if it’s not worth it to you to deal with the hassle of going downtown in the middle of the day, just write a reasonable explanation. You can admit that the trash was in the alley, but that there is no evidence that it belonged to you. I would also emphasize a lack of any previous violations too. That should at least knock it down some.


Cn you pay these silly nuisance violations online? I have one and 75$ is not worth the day off of work.

I did some construction work in my back yard, and got a 75 ticket for construction debris. I mailed it in and admitted with explanation, and 15 months later, got a notice that they reduced the fee from $75 to $25. I would say it is worth it. I just admitted I made a mistake, and said I would work hard in the future to make sure I had a yard my neighbors could be proud of, which I have done 🙂

Thanks for all the advice!  We wrote a letter-argument stating that we take the blame for the cardboard box left out in advance of recycling day but denying the trash bags.  Hopefully they will reduce!  I hand delivered it to the Department since the deadline was that day, and two young adults working there emphatically said “fight it!”

We’ve received one of these violations as well, but we’ve since lost the actual paper violation. I’ve tried calling multiple DC agencies (DOH, DPW, etc.) and none have a record of our address. What agency assesses these violations? I want to make sure the fine doesn’t double.

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