If you want to contest a ticket, do not pay the fine and/or penalty. You cannot contest a ticket once you have paid the fine and/or penalty nor can you request a refund.
Skip the Trip! Parking and photo enforcement tickets can be contested online, by mail, or in person within 60 calendar days. If you contest the ticket between 31 and 60 calendar days after it is issued, or mailed, in the case of photo enforcement tickets, you are liable for both the fine and penalty.
When DC DMV receives your request to contest a ticket, DC DMV will send a postcard to you that indicates we have received it. If you don’t receive this postcard, you may call 311 to ask that they confirm our receipt of your request.
Note: If you are issued a ticket while driving a rental car, rental car agreements provide that a rental party is responsible for all tickets issued to the rental vehicle during the rental period. DC DMV has discovered that some rental car companies will automatically pay any ticket(s) incurred on vehicles and charge the customer the ticket fine plus administrative fees. They will not provide you with the opportunity to adjudicate the tickets, as the adjudication process ends once a ticket is paid even if it going through the adjudication process. As the legal owner of the vehicle, rental car companies are within their rights to use this process.
Information on Online, By Mail, and In-Person processes for contesting tickets is available below.
If the ticket is more than 60 calendar days old, you may ask DC DMV whether or not you may still contest the ticket by filing what is called a Motion to Vacate. The Motion to Vacate form at the link below must be received by DC DMV within 120 calendar days from the ticket’s issue date (for parking tickets) or mail date (for photo enforcement tickets).
To submit the Motion to Vacate online, use the link below:
Most parking tickets in the District are written by the Department of Public Works (DPW). If you receive a parking ticket issued by DPW (i.e., Dept 15 on the bottom of the ticket), you may visit the DC DPW website, then click on TICPIX to see images of the parking violation and resulting ticket. Any images available will be posted 72 hours after a ticket is issued, but not all violations will have associated pictures.
Below is a link to the DC DPW:
If you want to contest your parking tickets, there are certain defenses you can offer.
Legal Defenses to Parking Tickets
District of Columbia law (Official Code Section 50-2303.5 (a) (2)) provides seven defenses for parking violations:
- You were not the owner or lessee of the cited vehicle at the time of the infraction;
- The cited vehicle or its state registration plates were stolen at the time of the violation;
- The relevant signs prohibiting or restricting parking were missing or obscured;
- The relevant parking meter was inoperable or malfunctioned through no fault of the person who received the ticket; or
- The facts alleged on the parking violation notice are inconsistent or do not support a finding that the specified regulation was violated;
- The vehicle was suddenly mechanically disabled; provided that the vehicle was removed as soon as practicable; or
- The operator suddenly needed immediate medical assistance (proof of medical attention required).
Your parking ticket can be dismissed only if one of these seven defenses is successfully raised. You should provide evidence to support your defense at the time of your hearing or when you submit your online or mail request. Please note that hardcopies of documents are required. Hearing examiners will not view photos or videos stored on your electronic devices. In general, to decrease your chances of receiving a parking ticket, always:
- Read the posted signage. Signs are not required to be posted every car length. Signs posted at the ends of the block are considered “anchor signs” and may govern the allowable parking for the entire length of the block.
- Adhere to the time restrictions on the signage. There is no “grace” period.
- If multiple signs are posted, the most restrictive sign should be followed.
- Don’t expect to receive a verbal or written warning. You will receive a ticket if you park illegally.
- Realize that posted signage takes precedence over what is written on the meter.
- Some violations, such as parking too close to the intersection, within 10 feet of a fire hydrant, etc., do not require a posted sign under Title 18 District of Columbia Municipal Regulations Section 2405.
The Top Ten Most Frequently Issued Parking Tickets
The following is a list of some of the most commonly issued parking violations:
- AM and PM Rush Hour – In effect between 7:00 am and 9:30 am and 4:00 pm and 6:30 pm or longer; provides an extra traffic lane during prime commuter hours. A vehicle cannot block this lane during the restricted hours. You may stop only long enough to pick up or discharge.
- Loading Zone – Only commercial vehicles can park in loading zones. A commercial vehicle is a vehicle that is registered in the name of a business or enterprise, not an individual. A commercial vehicle may or may not display commercial tags, depending on the rules of the jurisdiction where it is registered.
- Meters – Adhere to the time restriction on the posted signs. Once the time limit is reached, you can be ticketed for parking overtime, even if the meter has not expired.
- Residential Parking Permit Zones – You are allowed two hours in the entire zone for the entire day. You cannot move your car from space to space within the zone and restart the clock.
- Failure to Secure DC Tags – Vehicles parked in DC for a continuous 30 days are required to be registered in DC or to display a reciprocity sticker. If you are a frequent visitor, you may be issued a Registration of Out of State Automobile (ROSA) exemption that will prevent you from being cited for the violation. A ROSA exemption will not prevent the issuance of residential parking permit tickets. ROSA information is available at the link below:
- Registration of Out of State Automobiles
No Stopping – No stopping or parking is allowed.
No Standing – No stopping, standing, or parking is allowed.
No Parking for Street Cleaning – Adhere to the time and day of the week restriction, even if the street cleaning has been completed.
Emergency No Parking – Adhere to the restriction until the time and date have passed or the sign has been removed.
Relocation Tow – Your vehicle may be relocated to another space if it is parked illegally. The relocation tow is in lieu of towing your vehicle to an impound lot. A relocation tow fee will be charged.
Ticket Scenarios with Supporting Documentation
This list shows instances in which you should be able to support arguments against the ticket.
- The meter read failed.
- The coin did not register.
- You have a service request confirmation number from the Citywide Call Center obtained on the same date the ticket was issued. Although a confirmation number will not result in a ticket automatically being dismissed, it will assist the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in determining if the meter was inoperable.
- You paid for parking with ParkMobile. Submit your ParkMobile Detailed Sessions Report that shows tag number, parking zone number, start time, end time, and date. The ParkMobile monthly invoice is not an acceptable document.
Ticket is defective
- The wrong vehicle make is listed on the ticket. Your vehicle is a Honda, but the make is noted as Hyundai on the ticket. Provide a copy of your vehicle registration as evidence for contesting the ticket.
- The incorrect tag number. Your tag number is MD OQM123 and the tag number on the ticket is MD OOM123. Provide a copy of your vehicle registration as evidence for contesting the ticket.
- The time is missing. The time does not include AM or PM unless time is noted on a 24-hour cycle or what is usually termed as military time.
- The officer’s name or badge number is missing.
- The ticket violation date is missing.
Vehicle owner is deceased
- There was no vehicle co-owner and the tickets were issued prior to the vehicle owner’s death.
- Provide a copy of the vehicle owner’s death certificate and the vehicle registration.
Vehicle or vehicle license plate was stolen on the date the ticket was issued
- This defense is applicable to parking and photo tickets only.
- Provide a copy of the complete police report (which must contain the vehicle tag number).
- The police customer complaint number (CCN) is not sufficient to adjudicate the ticket.
Vehicle suddenly experienced mechanical problems that prevented you from moving it.
Running out of gas is not a valid defense to a ticket.
- You have a receipt for the repair or tow of the vehicle on or soon after the date the ticket was issued
You have a valid disabled placard or vehicle tag
- The placard or tag was properly displayed at the time the ticket was issued.
- Display of the placard or tags allows the holder or vehicle owner to park for twice the posted time limit when parking is permissible. For example, the vehicle can be parked for 4 hours in a 2-hour residential permit parking zone.
- This defense applies when the vehicle is parked at a meter, in a residential permit parking zone or in a designated disability parking space.
- The authorized owner of the placard or tag must have been associated with the vehicle during the period the ticket was issued. In other words, a non-owner of the placard or tag could not have been fraudulently using the placard/tag to benefit from disability parking.
You received a ticket while driving a rental vehicle
- The rental car company is the owner of the vehicle. The company may be a part of the Distict's Multi-Owner Fleet program and receive monthly reports of unpaid tickets. The company can choose to pay all tickets issued to its vehicles. You should look for language concerning parking tickets in your rental agreement.
- Once the ticket is paid by you or the rental company, you cannot contest it. Under DC law, payment is considered an admission, and the adjudication request will not be reviewed. This includes the scenario where you submit an adjudication request; however, before a decision is made, the rental company pays the ticket.
- If you contest via mail or online, the decision will be mailed directly to the registered owner, the rental car company.
- If you contest a ticket in-person, you must provide the rental agreement for the vehicle stating the rental period matches the date of issuance for the infraction.
You may contest parking or photo enforcement tickets online within 60 calendar days from the date the ticket was issued, or mailed, in the case of photo enforcement tickets, at the link below:
The online system will ask you to provide a written explanation as to why you are contesting the ticket and upload supporting documentation such as hardcopy photographs, vehicle registration, or receipts. If you contest the ticket between 31 and 60 calendar days after it is issued, in the case of a parking ticket, or mailed, in the case of a photo enforcement ticket, you have to pay both the fine and the penalty if DC DMV finds that you are responsible.
You will be asked to provide an email address. DC DMV will send a reply to that email address when we receive your form contesting the ticket. If you do not receive an email reply from DC DMV, we have not received your request to contest the ticket, and you should resubmit the online form to contest the ticket.
A DC DMV hearing examiner will read the information you submit to contest the ticket and will decide whether or not you must pay the fine or the fine and the penalty. The hearing examiner will mail the hearing record to the registered owner’s address of record with the DMV notifying the owner of the decision.
The hearing examiner's decision letter should be mailed to the vehicle’s registered owner within approximately 6 months.
If you have a DC DMV Email Ticket Alert Service (TAS) account, you will receive an email telling you a decision on your ticket has been made. Register for TAS at the link below:
Contest by Mail
If you want to contest a ticket by regular mail, DC DMV must receive your documentation no later than 30 calendar days from the date the ticket was issued, or mailed, in the case of photo enforcement tickets. If your documentation is received between calendar days 31 and 60, a penalty will be assessed, equal to the initial fine—meaning the ticket will double. If you are held liable for the ticket at this point, you will be responsible for the initial ticket fine plus the penalty.
Complete the information on the back of the ticket and mail the ticket, Mail Adjudication Form (available at the link below), and supporting documentation to:
DC DMV Adjudication Services
Attn: Mail Adjudication
PO Box 37135
Washington, DC 20013
Contest In Person
You may also attend a walk-in hearing to contest your ticket; if you walk in for a hearing in the first 30 calendar days after the ticket was issued, or mailed, in the case of a photo enforcement ticket, you will owe the ticket fine if the hearing examiner finds you responsible for the ticket. If you walk in between 31 and 60 calendar days after the date the ticket was issued, or mailed, you will owe the ticket fine and a penalty equal to the fine.
To walk in for a hearing to contest your ticket, you must be the registered owner of the vehicle, or the owner must authorize you to act on his or her behalf by completing and signing the Power of Attorney form, available at the link below:
Click the Adjudication Services Office location page below to view the days, time, and location for walk-in hearings: