Today in Has the World Gone Mad? 2 year old issued littering citation in NE

by Prince Of Petworth September 2, 2016 at 11:35 am 58 Comments

2 year old littering fine

Sometimes people overuse the expression ‘smdh’ or shake my damn head and sometimes you simply must shake your damn head. Like this one for example. This happened to a friend of mine:

“We received this notice of violation from DPW in the mail yesterday alleging that our 2 year old committed a littering violation because a piece of mail with her name on it was found on the ground in the alley. I called the DPW Inspector that issued the ticket today and explained that she had inadvertently issued a ticket to a two year old and she refused to rescind the ticket.”

Ed. Note: We have discussed this practice many times in the past but this is the first time we’ve had a 2 year old cited!

  • houseintherear

    And my neighbors have basically a junk yard in the alley behind their house for going on 8 months. This city is nothing if not inconsistent!

  • Brett M

    This is idiotic. What this is basically saying is that if a USPS worker accidentally dropped or purposely threw your mail on the ground, you are responsible for littering. Or if a thief stole a package and threw the packaging on the ground, or if the trash truck driver dropped some trash containing something with your name on it.

    The act of littering cannot be proven by determining who used to own the litter. It can only be proven by determining who actually littered.

    • Brightwoodian

      Exactly my point. There is no way this will hold up. The best move is write a letter to the office of administrative hearings. I’ve had a couple of weird citations since I moved into the city 6 years ago. While it took a few months to hear back they always found in my favor.
      This poor guy/gal is the victim of this inspector trying to meet their quota before the end of the month. People have to remember the jokers out writing these citations have a public high school education, likely from this city… The way the inspector understands the law he/she may really believe they came up with a great way to enforce the law.

  • wdc

    I’m glad we’re not letting these young punks get away with this kind of antisocial behavior. Garnishing her allowance for the next three years will teach her an important lesson!

  • textdoc

    I don’t think the age of the person to whom the mail was addressed is relevant here (although it makes for an attention-grabbing headline).
    Presumably the mail was discarded in the recycling bin, the D.C. recycling-pickup truck operators were sloppy about getting all of the recyclables from the bin properly into the truck, and the piece of mail ended up in the alley.
    The OP should be protesting the notice of violation not on the grounds of the kid’s age, but on the grounds of the mail’s presence in the alley resulting from DPW recycling pickup being sloppy.

    • AMDCer

      Came here to say almost exactly the same thing! Great minds, textdoc, great minds…

    • Mug of Glop

      Wasn’t there some post on here several months ago where the trash/recycling people just tossed a bunch of cardboard boxes into the alley instead of picking them up for recycling, and DPW issued the submitter a ticket because their address was on one of the boxes?
      Seems like DPW is playing pretty fast and loose on matters of the chains of custody of litter.

      • Yep, and if I recall that poster also claimed that the citation was issued on an actual trash collection day, meaning it could have happened and the person not even come home to be able to fix the problem before being cited.

        • BRKLND

          Yep that was me! You need to dispute the ticket (which I know is a huge pain) and go to court. In my case I had to go in front of a judge with the DPW ticket writer at which point the judge asked the ticket writer if they physically saw me dump the boxes (under oath) and of course they said no. Case dismissed – fine waived.
          It is essentially a money grab as I imagine most people will just pay the fine rather than fight the city. $75 is a lot of money but not so much that it seems worthwhile to fight for. For me it is the principle – I will see DPW in court any day of the week again for something like this. Admittedly I also have a flexible job that lets me take time off for stuff like this.

          • Caroline

            I don’t have a flexible job, so going to court is out of the question, but I was able to get my ticket dismissed by writing a lot of letters and sending them to multiple agencies. No way in hell was I paying a ticket I didn’t deserve!

          • Truxton Thomas

            Wow! This is good to know. What a disgusting abuse of authority. Unbelievable that a city bringing in increasing amounts of revenue would stoop to this level, especially with the amount of actual littering I witness every day. Pathetic.

          • textdoc

            There was something AnonMPD said yesterday that helped explain why people feel like they can litter with impunity — not only does an MPD officer have to catch them in the act, because it’s a civil violation they’re not required to show ID when asked.
            “[Not picking up dog poop] is a civil offense under 24 DCMR 900. So unless an officer witnesses it, he or she cannot do anything about it. There aren’t any warrants for civil offenses, nor would MPD be spending our time trying to get one. Even if an officer does witness it, the officer can’t require that the individual provide identification for the non-traffic civil offense, so the compliance rate with non-traffic civil offenses (littering, and, before legalization, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana) is about 25%.”

          • A cop tried to write me a ticket for jaywalking across an empty intersection (yes, I know I was in the wrong), but when he asked me for my license to write me a ticket. Even though I had it on me, I said I didn’t have it. He got all huffy and told me it’s illegal in DC to not have identification on your person (BS) and I informed him that I wasn’t driving or buying alcohol. He couldn’t write me a ticket so he said, “Just don’t do it again!”

          • anon

            You’re lucky. While we aren’t required to carry ID, I believe in many places the police can arrest you if you can’t identify yourself to them to their satisfaction. Obviously, they can’t do this anyone walking down the street – they have to believe you’ve broken some law and want to cite you for it. I don’t know the law in DC – whether a minor offense like this permits arrest if ID acceptable to the police is not produced. Now you’ve got me curious.

        • Caroline

          One time the trash collectors missed my cardboard boxes on pickup day, so I filed a missed collection request and left the boxes out on the curb for them to pick up the next day. During that time an inspector must have come by and photographed them being on the curb outside of pickup hours (although they didn’t issue the ticket for another 5 months).
          It took a lot of back-and-forth with DPW but eventually they did drop the charges.

    • This is a really stupid practice, and in my opinion a complete waste of DPW resources. Unless there’s repeated, documented proof by a neighbor complaining I can’t imagine why DPW would ever send someone to write one of these. Especially for something as trivial as a letter (assuming that was the only piece of garbage in the street).

      • FridayGirl


      • oh2dc

        DPW really does have a lot of time on their hands for these kinds of things. Our condo building has been cited for finding recyclable contents in our dumpster. The dumpster is in an alley that is frequently used by pedestrians and near a construction site, so it is used fairly regularly by non-condo owners. Locking the dumpster is not a solution because (aside from being super inconvenient) people just toss stuff on top of it or leave it next to it, which causes a different reason for a citation. It’s initially hard to understand prioritizing this, but this is easy money generation since people are unlikely to take the time to fight it.

    • oh2dc

      I assume Mr./Ms. “Current Resident” has a lot of outstanding tickets for this reason.

  • Idontgetit

    Okay I’ll bite. How would the ticket writer know the age of the person whose name appeared on the envelope?

    • Well she called and told the inspector afterwards.

      • Unless the two year old is the one responsible for checking the mail it’s still not relevant. They have to (theoretically, anyway) issue the ticket to SOMEONE, and since they only see the name on the envelope that’s who it goes to. Calling up and saying that mail was for your 2 year old doesn’t recuse you of the responsibility of disposing of the mail properly. We can argue the validity of issuing tickets for mail that has been disposed of, but is improperly handled by trash / recycle collectors as a sidebar, but the age of the mail recipient is still irrelevant (in my view). I consider this about the same as if a police officer watches a two year old throw their juice box on the ground in front of mom, and mom just leaves it there.

      • ExWalbridgeGuy

        I’m a bit confused too. They just wanted the ticket reissued in their own name, not their child’s? Is that the outrage here?

        • textdoc

          Where are you getting that from? The post says nothing about the parent wanting the ticket to be reissued in the parent’s name, only that the parent wanted the ticket to be rescinded:
          “I called the DPW Inspector that issued the ticket today and explained that she had inadvertently issued a ticket to a two year old and she refused to rescind the ticket.”

    • saf

      What I don’t get is why the age of the ticketee matters. Yeah, you got hit by a very stupid policy. But why does it matter that you are only 2? It doesn’t. The problem is bad policy, not ticketing children.

      • Peebee

        Um, because a 2-year old isn’t littering of her own volition? She’s not taking the mail from the mailbox or depositing it in the trash or putting the trash somewhere it isn’t supposed to be.

  • anonymous

    Unless there is a picture (like the red light/speed cameras), who is to say that the person giving out the citation isnt making this up? Unless there is proof, I would fight it.

    • Anon

      Yea, I’m not sure why DC thinks something like this would stand in court. I guess they are just hoping that few people would bother to take it to that point?
      Unrelated, but I think one of your alley neighbor’s doesn’t like the OP to make this petty of a complaint.

  • takomanorpark

    You can get anything you want
    At Alice’s Restaurant

    • saf


  • U st.

    Agreed on the lack of due process here. If there is anyone from the city reading this, position officers at Oak and 14th St. NW. Flagrant litterers at all times of the day. It makes my blood boil.

    • Anonymous

      The DPW officers issue tickets where they know people have the means to pay the fine.
      OP, any chance you live in a recent flip? These guys definitely do selective enforcement. They have no problem issuing lots of fines around Capitol Hill, H Street, Dupont, Logan, U Street, etc. If anything, they’ll overlook the junkyard house (and the neighborhoods that tend to house them) because they either feel sorry for those owners or simply know they’ll never pay up. It’s BS.

      • Huh

        Yeah, you don’t know what your talking about. DPW targets areas that people complain about. Check the 311 app and you will probably see multiple complaints from residents in this area.

        Also, their is currently a campaign targeting Ward 7 high litter spots (their is signs, organized clean-ups, anti-littering busts, a real campaign around it). And that is definitely an area that doesn’t meet your definition. It is an area that has numerous complaints regarding illegal dumping and littering. No one is targeting rich people.

      • AMDCer

        They also go through dumpsters and issue fines to buildings if recycling is mixed in with regular trash, which I’m ok with except that sometimes it’s not the residents of the building who do it (looking at you, group house next door who dump beer cans in our garbage dumpster…)

      • U st.

        So you’re saying the DPW doesn’t care at all about the actual act of littering and the effects thereof? If this is solely revenue-based, and this can be proven, this is a big problem for the city and this law (completely aside from discrimination.)

        • U st.

          I guess why issue tickets to those who will not pay for them when my tax dollars will be used to pay someone from the city to clean up? I get it, littering is not the most offensive offense, but when I can guarantee you will see mid-day dumping of trash in the “park”, it’s not irrational to think there should be consequences for offensive behavior.

      • Chez67

        Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and start calling DPW employees Officers.

  • tonyr

    Who writes a letter to a two-year old?

    • oh2dc

      Probably someone who only know their name and address from a piece of mail, but doesn’t know the age of the recipient.

      • tonyr

        I meant the original piece up mail, not the ticket.

        • tonyr

          of, not up

        • Truxton Thomas

          Insurance companies, for one.

    • CPC

      Their grandparents for one…

  • K

    This is a good attention grabbing headline but for all we know this family does indeed deserve this citation (not the 2 year old but his or her parents). They presented the info to make the situation laughably absurd but for all we know they are the neighbors who we all complain about (let their trash pile up for weeks on end and/or keep their cans open to the elements and/or straight up dumping). Lets keep the internet outrage to a minimum until we actually know what happened.

    • Where is Maury Povich when need him most?

      • Or that conservative news outlet who tracked DC students to their homes in Maryland…

  • bruno

    A product of over-reliance on digital stuff and detaching from the real world and common sense. It is on the rise….

  • MRD

    This is precisely why I don’t allow mail or loose pieces of paper in our recycling bin. I’ve watched it all go flying out into the alley when it gets dumped, to no concern of DPW. There was one windy day when a lot of it blew into our back lot and I learned all sorts of things about my neighbors.
    Still, $75 is steep.

    • Angry Parakeet

      I found an opened letter in the alley behind my next door neighbors’ house with statement of foreclosure and exactly how much money was owed on their house. On a similar note, this morning I opened my garage door to find 3 truck tires dumped behind my garage.

  • Angry Parakeet

    Just from reading past threads about this on this site I shred all mail having my name and address.

  • Anon

    I either mark out, rip up, or shred my name/address on envelopes or boxes before disposing of them. I do this mostly for privacy issues and to prevent identity theft, and would suggest anyone reading this to do the same. If you remove your address from mail before discarding, this solves the problem of your name and address floating out there if your mail becomes separated from the recycling bin. I guess it would also avoid getting stuck with a ticket for littering.

    • anon

      I had to do a double-take and make sure I didn’t write your post myself! I do the same. I would add, though, that if the mail person loses your mail or delivers it to the wrong address and it doesn’t ever find its way to you, which does happen, then you could end up with the littering ticket anyway.

  • i hate litter

    DPW should focus on writing tickets to all the digusting pigs that dump or drop cigarette butts at intersections. That is littering. Surely all these traffic cams can capture that. No warnings, just fine the inconsiderate offenders.

  • ks

    two year olds receive mail?

  • U st.

    Just saw this same story on the TV news– seems like OP got what they wanted, which is great. How about DPW targeting intentional litterers in the act now? But I guess that is not as easy as roaming alleyways. Or responding to calls. from neighbors. There really is some constant flagrant I-dont-care-a-f-about-anything littering happening all the time in particular spots in this city. It really is hard to see the intentional dumping of any and everything on the sidewalks, parks and streets. Total disrespect for the whole community. But yes, I know, bigger fish to fry…not worth anyone’s time…In a perfect world it would be.

  • jeremiah

    so if wind blows and scatters paper from a garbage bin which has your name on it, it’s still your fault for littering????

    • textdoc

      As far as DPW is concerned, yes.
      You’re not supposed to discard any personal/household waste in street litter cans, and regular residential trash/recycling bins have lids… so the scenario of wind blowing your mail into the alley is unlikely.
      A far more likely scenario, however, is that DPW’s garbage or recycling trucks fail to get everything into the truck properly and mail with your name on it ends up in the alley. (This is more likely with recycling than with trash, since DPW requires trash to be bagged and requires recycling to be loose.)

  • textdoc

    The Post has a story today on a similar litter ticket — this one issued to a 91-year-old woman who no longer lives at the rowhouse that’s partially in her name:


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