Out of State Traffic Ticket

The process of getting a traffic ticket in Washington DC can be confusing, especially if you live out-of-state. It is important to consult with an experienced Washington DC traffic lawyer right away to understand the DC traffic ticket process. The charges and consequences for any traffic violation in DC can lead to points added to your license or even the loss of your license. Please contact our office today for a free consultation to discuss your traffic charges.

Out-of-State Traffic Citation

For starters, take it seriously, don’t blow it off. These are things that can come back to haunt you years down the road. DC is a confusing place to drive, but don’t think because you have a license from another state that you can blow off the ticket, throw it away, and it’ll go away. Every state has a different approach to how they handle suspensions and how they handle reciprocity between states. Because it’s an administrative adjudication here and there aren’t as many constitutional implications in the sense that something like double jeopardy would apply, you might get adjudicated guilty here in DC and owe money, but then also have to deal with some sort of punitive action in your home jurisdiction. If you have points assessed to your license as a result of a DC ticket, it could trigger suspension back in your home jurisdiction just because you were found liable for a violation here. Don’t try to run from it. Probably half of the people that I represent in traffic matters are from other jurisdictions. You should definitely be wary that the potential impact a traffic ticket can have on your life isn’t necessarily confined to the time that you are in DC.
DC is an interesting town – in some neighborhoods there are streets that are only a couple of blocks long, or streets that are only one-way at certain times of day. It can be very confusing for a driver from another jurisdiction to navigate around DC. That’s another reason why having an attorney who is familiar with the area can be important. One thing that people need to know, back to the administrative component, is that because it’s an administrative law hearing, the rules of evidence are relaxed. If you decide to handle a ticket yourself at the DMV, you can bring in evidence without worrying about how to get the evidence admitted. In a court of law, there are all sorts of evidentiary issues to deal with – authentication of evidence, hearsay – these are just some basic but very important rules of evidence. At the DMV, it’s different; you can bring in almost any evidence to support your defense, and the hearing examiner (administrative law judge) will at least give you a chance to explain why it’s relevant, why it should be considered. They’ll always err on the side of admitting more evidence than not. Something people need to know if they do decide to defend a ticket on their own is to bring in as much documentation as possible.

There are also things that seemingly go without saying but that are important: always have your license, proof of insurance, and registration with you. It’s not the end of the world if you get pulled over without one of these, but you’ll get a pretty hefty fine. For example, your first offense for operating an uninsured vehicle is $500 – but you’ll have an opportunity to show proof that you were insured at that time if you contest the ticket at a hearing. That’s another reason why it’s important to contact an attorney and see if maybe there is something you can do rather than just saying, “Well, I got a ticket, I should just pay it and that’s that.” Again, once you pay the ticket it’s a very, very difficult fight to get a finding of liability reversed.

Ignoring a DC Traffic Ticket

It depends on a lot of things, including what kind of ticket it is, how many points you already have on your record, etc. If you ignore a ticket here in DC, the points will be assessed after 60 days, and the fine will have doubled by then. If there are enough points involved in the case, you may end up getting your driving privileges suspended or revoked here in DC, and your home jurisdiction may or may not reciprocate that immediately. [Eventually] unpaid tickets could prevent you from being able to renew your license or move your license to another state. Or, if you are a DC driver, you might want to move to another jurisdiction and find out that you can’t get a license there because of the outstanding fees you owe in DC. It’s hard to say in the abstract what the potential outcomes could be, but there are definitely serious issues that could emerge. That’s why it’s important to take it seriously and respond. You’re never going to prejudice yourself by at least scheduling a hearing, showing up, and trying to plead your case. The worst thing that happens is exactly what would’ve happened if you had just paid the ticket right away, which is that you pay a fine and points get assessed, but there are all sorts of other things that could happen. It’s not uncommon for an officer to issue a ticket but then lose their notes. Or, maybe they issued a ticket, but after reviewing things they realize that they aren’t so certain that it was your car that they caught on the radar or lidar. If that’s the case, the officer might not even show up at the hearing.  Also, there’s nothing to lose, so it’s worth at least entertaining the idea of fighting a traffic ticket. Make the government prove their case.

Maryland and Virginia Treatment of DC traffic violations?

That depends on a lot of things. It’s not a perfect system. Sometimes the DMV here doesn’t tell the other jurisdictions about things like points, but generally they do. If you’re a DC driver and you get a traffic citation in Virginia, the DC DMV will assess points on your DC license as if the violation in Virginia occurred here. That’s generally how it works in those jurisdictions, too, with a few exceptions. Ultimately, you might owe a fine in the state where you got the ticket, and have points assessed in your home state, too. It’s not a perfect system. DC is a big metro area and sometimes things don’t get reported or don’t get sent over state lines, but generally there are impacts that are felt both in the jurisdiction where you’re ticketed and at home where you live your daily life.