D.C. issues $226 million in 2015 traffic tickets, much goes unpaid

In 2015, D.C. issued $226 million worth of traffic tickets, most of which goes unpaid. (ABC7)

Nearly a quarter of a billion dollars - that's how much money Washington, D.C. issued in traffic tickets in 2015.

Government numbers obtained and analyzed by the I-Team show in 2015 District motorists were issued 2,475,929 tickets - worth $226 million. That's up $46 million ($180 million) from 2014. But what's also up is the number of tickets not paid, which totaled $84 million - up from $61 million the year prior.

"It's probably a form of protest," said John Townsend with AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Townsend believes motorists are protesting what they see as an unfair money maker.

"It's a way of saying we don't think your ticketing process is valid. This is all about the money and you crave money. And since you obsess with money, we're not going to pay it," added Townsend.

D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh, who chairs the Transportation Committee, disagrees.

"It's not as bad as it looks," said Cheh.

Cheh says most of the unpaid tickets are unpaid because they're being challenged. But with the fine doubling after 30 days, and other penalties for not paying, she believes tickets are not worth protesting.

"It's best to clear it up. Pay it. Pay the ticket," added Cheh. "People are being caught, which is what they really don't like. They have an easy way of not paying the money. Stop engaging in that behavior."

The data show Maryland residents have the most unpaid tickets worth $36 million. D.C. and Virginia residents each owe $17 million.

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