John Townsend
Public Relations Manager, DC
O: (202) 481-6820 (ext. 4462108)
C: (202) 253-2171
jtownsend@aaamidatlantic.com

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Wednesday, February 19, 2020) –– Nearly three million motorists received  traffic tickets and/or parking citations in the nation’s capital during Fiscal Year 2019, shattering three records in the process. These all-time records include the volume of citations issued, the value of ticket revenue, and the amount of defaulted tickets. Surpassing yet another milestone, in all the District issued more than a billion dollars in traffic and parking tickets over a three-year period, including fiscal years, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

 

Approximately 2,869,810 traffic and parking citations were issued to drivers by “the powers that be” in the District during the budget cycle ending September 30, 2019. Higher traffic ticket fines for drivers and lower speed limits in the city might have something to do with that. It’s the highest ticket total in the annals of Washington, D.C., yielding record revenue. Correspondingly, in a chain reaction, the total of unpaid tickets also soared to record highs in FY 2019. More than 970,000 ticketed drivers skipped out on paying nearly $200 million in parking and traffic ticket fines in FY 2019. That means almost half of ticketed motorists didn’t pay.

 

With the topmost speed camera fine increasing to $500, tougher penalties and higher traffic fines are the new normal under the city’s Vision Zero Initiative, which also spawned 11 new traffic infractions. The blistering pace of ticketing represents a 5.5% uptick in ticket output over the prior budget year.  In contrast, the District wrote 2,719,600 citations in FY18. The value of processed citations spiked to $375,916,124 in FY19, a record-breaking haul. That’s up from the $324,531,271 ticket fine bonanza of FY18. Ticket value increased by $51,384,853 from FY18 to FY19. It comprises a 15.8% upsurge in potential revenue. That’s a lot of money. It all goes into the city’s general fund. But 47.1% of the ticket output went unpaid.

 

“The District witnessed ‘more than 25,000 crashes that resulted in more than 10,000 injuries’ in 2018 alone. One crash, like one injury, is one too many,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “The District generated 8.2 million traffic and parking tickets with a windfall value of one billion dollars over the past three budget years. The jury is still out on whether the higher ticket cost has anything to do with compliance. Or, for that matter, if increased ticketing will ever engender a ‘deterrence effect,’ modify behavior, or produce a ‘marked decrease in crashes.’ Yet a modicum of research suggests that ‘as unpopular as traffic tickets are among drivers, motorist behavior does respond to tickets.’”

 

District DMV Adjudication Caseload Statistics

Total Citations

FY 2019

FY 2018

FY 2017

Total FY17-FY 19

Total Citations Processed

2,869,810

2,719,600

2,687,525

8,276,935

Value of Processed Tickets

$375,916,124

$324,531,271

$306,712,186

$1,007,159,581

 

 In the wake of the higher fine regime implemented in the second quarter of FY 2019, the face value of the additional 150,120 tickets, catapulted revenue by $51.3 million, if collected. A spate of higher traffic ticket fines for excessive speeding, failing to yield right-of-way to transit buses or an emergency vehicle, and for making a rolling right turn on red, went into effect in the District under the banner of Vision Zero in January 2019. City hall also lowered the speed limit to 15 miles per hour to halt tantivy driving on roadways next to schools, playgrounds, pools, athletic fields, recreational facilities and senior centers. Non-payments mount.

 

District threw the ticket book at drivers. As a result, some say, the city got a big payday, boosting fine revenue by double digits over the prior year. Potential fine revenue amassed by more than $51 million. The District’s ticket output increased in every major ticketing category, including parking citations, automated traffic enforcement citations, and moving violation citations handed down by law enforcement officers.

 

Even so, 1,310,740 motorists were ticketed for traffic law violations captured by the city’s array of automated traffic enforcement cameras. The arsenal includes speed cameras, red light cameras, stop sign cameras, and oversized vehicle cameras.  That compares to 1,227,525 photo citations during FY 2018. The District’s coterie of Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) plastered 1,467,876 parking tickets on windshields all across town during FY 2019. That compares to 1,417,001 parking tickets during FY 2018. Police officers in patrol cars in Washington, D.C. issued moving violations tickets to 91,194 motorists during FY 2019. In contrast, gendarmes meted out 75,074 citations for moving violations during FY 2018.

 

The District government runs on an October 1 to September 30 fiscal year. Although it does not correspond with the calendar year, “tickets of all kinds” rose by a total of 5.5 percentage points over the prior 12-month period. The increased ticketing resulted in 83,125 more automated traffic enforcement camera tickets, 50,875 more parking citations, and 16,120 more tickets for moving violations in the 12-month span.

 

           Year-in and year-out, the District generates hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket revenue annually. It is said, “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.” Newton’s Third Law notwithstanding, the number of unpaid citations in the District also skyrocketed by nearly $40 million in FY 19. What is more, the percentage increase of unpaid citations rose by almost 30% from FY 2018 to FY 2019. Half went unpaid.

 

For the first time in the city’s history, the number of tickets racked up in a single fiscal year  that were  not paid in a timely manner by motorists topped almost one million citations. It is a staggering 41.7% of the ticket total.  Although fines double after 30 days in the District, 971,913 citations went unpaid by ticketed motorists in FY 2019. This compares to 871,453 overdue citations in FY 2018. The yearly tally of delinquent citations increased by 100,460, a gobsmacking 11.5% accrual. Motorists owed the District $177,387,958 in unpaid citations in FY 2019, compared to $139,281,885 in uncollected traffic and parking ticket debt in FY 2018.  It comprises a double digit increase in unpaid fines (27.3%), a difference of $38,106,073 higher. 

 

ONE AND DUN FROM FY 2018-FY 2020 (As of January 5, 2020)

Unpaid Citations

FY 2018

FY 2019

FY 2020 (as of 1/5/20)

Number of Unpaid Tickets

871,453

971,913

348,236

Value of Unpaid Citations

$139,291,885

$177,387,958

$48,709,871

Amount Owed By District Residents

$28,615,543

$34,364,288

$10,851,426

Amount Owed By Maryland Residents

$59,662,386

$74,298,443

$19,275,952

Amount Owed By Virginia Residents

$31,512,322

$44,745,936

$12,167,784

Amount Owed By Residents of Other Places

$19,491,634

$23,979,291

$6,414,708

 

Ticketing is continuing at a clip in Fiscal Year 2020 that will likely shatter all previous records. The District processed 678,763 parking and traffic tickets through January 15, 2020, which carried a value of $84,006,413. That tally included 385,615 parking citations, in addition to 272,194 photo enforcement camera citations and 20,954 tickets for moving violations. So far in FY 2020, 348,236 motorists are in arrears, failing to pay their tickets and fines, valued at $48,709, 871, in a timely fashion. Starting February 28, $150 tickets will be issued to motorists spotted and photographed improperly parking, stopping, or leaving a bike lane.

 

 

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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and nearly 82,000 members in the District of Columbia.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit  http://aaa.com

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