Maryland and Virginia drivers, beware: If you park on a D.C. street overnight, you might soon have to pay up.
The city has issued more than 350 tickets a night for the past nine months to out-of-state vehicles spotted parked overnight in the District, the city's Department of Public Works, or DPW, said in response to a Washington Examiner request. The city has given a total of 107,000 citations for violating "Registration of Out of State Autos," or ROSA, a law intended to make new residents promptly reregister their out-of-state autos in the District.
But the $100 citations reach far beyond the law's intent and officers regularly ticket out-of-town guests or students -- even when the vehicles are displaying a reciprocity permit or visitor pass.
"Within the first three months of moving to the District, I got three separate parking tickets even though my [$400] residential reciprocity permit was prominently displayed in the correct place," said Brooke Pearson, who was attending graduate school at George Washington University at the time of her tickets. "I think the parking people must have seen my Kentucky plates and just didn't bother to look at my dash."
Pearson said she successfully fought the fines, but she's not the only one who was cited despite the proper sticker showing. Julia Toro said she gives her parents her residential visitor pass when they visit from Ohio. But on the last visit, the car was given a warning.
"It's completely unreasonable," she said.
Commuters and overnight visitors have also been nailed. Those drivers must provide the Department of Motor Vehicles with proof that they are residing elsewhere to obtain a ROSA exemption.
Firefighters who live in surrounding jurisdictions have been ticketed so often for parking on the street that they lobbied the D.C. Council to pass an exemption for them, but a committee voted it down.
Devin Maier, a Mount Pleasant resident, said he's fighting several ROSA tickets issued to his girlfriend, a Virginia resident who parks overnight in his neighborhood when she visits.
"It's just surprising to me that they can slap a $100 ticket on a car with Virginia tags without looking anything up," he said, adding that he was helping her get an out-of-state exemption.
Based on a separate public records request, enforcement of ROSA is largely driven by resident complaints that too many Virginia or Maryland cars are parked on their street. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, DPW officers routinely monitor residential neighborhoods for out-of-state cars. After a car is spotted twice in a 30-day period, the fines start coming.
The city of College Park has a similar law that allows parking officers to begin issuing $55 citations after 60 days. The city is home to the University of Maryland, which, like the District, attracts thousands of temporary residents.
Those who have been fined even with the necessary permits questioned how the law is enforced.
"I honestly think they think out-of-towners are going to just pay it," Pearson said.