D.C. writing tickets to the wrong people

In the last year and a half, District of Columbia authorities have handed out tens of thousands of tickets to out-of-state vehicles parked in the city overnight.

However, these drivers are not getting ticketed because the cars are parked illegally. Instead, ticket writers have spotted them parked overnight in the city more than twice in 30 days and are assuming the owners have moved to the District without registering and getting D.C. tags.

Dean Lane, who anchors the overnight news at ABC7’s news partner WTOP in Northwest, is one of them. He lives in Virginia and has racked up at least five $100 tickets for not having D.C. tags.

As Lane has been dealing with the process of proving his Virginia residency, the tickets keep showing up on his car parked right under the WTOP sign.

“(There's a) tag in the window saying that I work here with a big arrow and 'Please do not ticket me,'" he said. "They ticketed me anyway."

ABC7 found that since the beginning of last year, D.C. has handed out more than 82,000 tickets for failure to have city tags. While many people just pay the ticket, others do go downtown to appeal it, like Georgetown University student Aurora Leibold.

“I was going to contest it, but I'm running out of money and change, so I'm just going to pay,” Leibold says.

More than 24,000 D.C. tag tickets have been appealed since the beginning of last year. Nearly 19,000 of them were dismissed - a 77 percent dismissal rate.

City leaders say what you can do is address the issue; prove your out-of-state residency as soon as you get that first free warning ticket.

“I want to take a look at what the warning says,” says D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh. “Maybe it should be more draconian, or ‘this is really serious, take this seriously.’”