Nearly 70 scofflaw vehicles towed through DC pilot program

The goal is to get vehicles with high-dollar unpaid tickets off the streets faster.

WASHINGTON — A new program launched in D.C. to get scofflaw vehicles, which are those that have piled up unpaid tickets, off the streets has towed nearly 70 cars within two months.

The Department of Public Works (DPW) initiative is part of ongoing efforts to enforce roadway safety and uphold traffic regulations under the Vision Zero strategy. Since the beginning of April, the pilot program has towed 69 vehicles with $604,404 in unpaid fines. 

In addition, the enforcement teams also search for vehicles eligible for a boot and within the same period of time have booted an additional 777 vehicles with $1,591,214 in unpaid fees. 

“Drivers who ignore citations endanger all roadway users by fostering a culture of disregard for our laws,” said DPW Director Timothy Spriggs. “Identifying and impounding vehicles that have racked up significant fines can be complex, but our scofflaw search teams are getting results and are getting these vehicles off of our streets.”

They are able to search for scofflaw vehicles using License Plate Recognition System (LPRS) technology. The agency launched the program to focus on areas where DPW data showed clusterings of scofflaw vehicles. An example of this is that a recent enforcement sweep in Ward 2 resulted in the booting of 46 vehicles with $92,000 in outstanding fines. 

The pilot program will be expanded to additional areas where data shows significant numbers of scofflaw vehicles. There are also dedicated staging areas for tow trucks to expedite the removal of scofflaw vehicles.

DPW is on track to acquire an additional impound lot by mid-summer, which can store around 300 vehicles. 

This DPW initiative complements other recent agency enforcement actions, such as:

Rapid Response Teams for high-risk parking violations: In FY22, DPW commissioned a team of Parking Enforcement Officers to respond to safety-sensitive parking violations within one to two hours after a service request is submitted in 311. DPW’s Parking Enforcement Management Administration (PEMA) has classified the following 10 parking violations as safety sensitive: Alley Violation, Blocked Driveway, Fire Hydrant, Handicap Parking, No Parking Anytime, No Stop Stand Bike Lane, Parked on or Obstructing Sidewalk, Parked on Public Space, and Private Property Ticket and Tow.Booting and towing team expansion: In FY22, DPW doubled the size of the booting crews, which resulted in a significant increase in productivity in the last half of FY22. In FY24, PEMA plans to hire eight booters and eight crane drivers.

Vehicles with two or more unpaid, unresolved D.C. parking tickets and/or photo enforcement tickets more than 60 days old are eligible to be booted and towed. The cars are towed to DPW’s two impound lots located at Blue Plains or Bryant Street Northeast. 

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