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Contesting a Ticket in Washington D.C.

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There were 2.5 million crestfallen moments last year when drivers in the District of Columbia got parking and traffic tickets. These citations often result in points on their driving record, fines and increased insurance rates.

A DC traffic lawyer can help them fight the ticket and possibly get it dismissed or reduced. Contesting a ticket in Washington, D.C. involves an appeals hearing before a hearing examiner.

Speeding Tickets

A DC speeding ticket can carry severe consequences, including fines up to a thousand dollars, license suspension or loss, points on your driving record and higher insurance rates. An experienced DC speeding ticket lawyer can help to protect your rights and ensure that you get the best outcome for your case.

The maximum speed limit in Washington DC is 25 miles per hour, unless otherwise noted. There is also a 15-mile-per-hour speed limit in alleys and around schools and playgrounds (during certain hours).

The Washington Post recently reported that city drivers have racked up more than $1 billion in unpaid red light and speeding tickets going back to 2000. There are only a few crews available to boot or tow vehicles and drivers who have multiple outstanding tickets are often out of luck. However, there are several ways to fight a speeding ticket in DC. The first step is to contest the ticket in court.

Parking Violations

While DC is notorious for questionable parking tickets and over-zealous officers, it’s important to remember that you can always fight your ticket. If you are a frequent visitor to DC and would like to avoid getting parking tickets, consider signing up for the city’s Ticket Alert System, which will send you an email or text message (depending on your preference) when your citation is due.

To contest a parking violation, you must submit your citation with all of the information on the back filled out and a written statement explaining why you are disputing the ticket within 30 days from when it was issued or mailed (in the case of photo enforcement citations). If you are fighting a parking ticket on behalf of someone else, you must have a Power of Attorney form notarized to act on their behalf. You can also request a hearing online or in person at the Department’s Adjudication Services office.


In most states, speeding is considered a misdemeanor offense. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, and convictions don’t carry the same potential jail sentences. Nevertheless, traffic misdemeanors can still come with significant fines and license demerit points, which can lead to a driver’s license suspension.

When fighting tickets of this kind, it’s generally a good idea to avoid making it an issue of your word against the officer’s. Instead, you may want to focus on whether the officer’s vantage point was obstructed or otherwise hindered by an object, such as another car or hill. Photographs and diagrams can be helpful in this type of argument.

As with parking violations, you’ll be given the option of pleading guilty or not guilty. If you’re going to fight the ticket, you should request a supporting deposition from the police officer within 48 hours of the violation. Once the court receives your request, it will have 30 days to send you a copy of this documentation.


In the District of Columbia, criminal cases (felonies) are resolved in the Superior Court and will show up on an individual’s DC criminal history record. Felonies are serious offenses and may carry jail time.

In addition to potential prison time, a person who is convicted of a felony can be subjected to fines and other penalties. The maximum penalty for a felony depends on the crime. For example, first-degree murder is a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

As with most states, a criminal statute spells out the maximum sentence for each type of crime. In the District of Columbia, felonies are divided into classes with different maximum prison terms. Unlike misdemeanors, however, a conviction for most felonies does not lead to license suspension or revocation in the District of Columbia. Felonies are serious crimes and should always be treated as such. A knowledgeable attorney can help you fight the felony charges you face.

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