Fight Traffic Ticket in Washington DCPage Overview
Most DC drivers have two options for handling traffic tickets: plead guilty and pay online, or contest the ticket and schedule a hearing.
(Plead Guilty or No Contest)
- Pay the fine; online if applicable.
- Deal with violation-related penalties (sometimes license suspension or revocation.
- Experience auto insurance rates increase.
- Possibly enroll in traffic school for point reduction.
Learn more about
Paying your Traffic Ticket »
(Plead Not Guilty)
- Enter a not guilty plea.
- Prepare for your hearing, possibly with help from a traffic ticket attorney.
- Suffer no penalties if found not guilty (except applicable court/attorney fees).
- Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).
To fight your DC traffic ticket, you must:
- Schedule a hearing date within 30 calendar days of the ticket date.
- Prepare and plead your case (some drivers hire traffic ticket attorneys for help).
- Receive your verdict.
You cannot contest the ticket once 60 calendar days have passed. At this point, you receive a default guilty judgment.
NOTE: Don’t pay any portion of the traffic ticket fine if you plan to contest the ticket. DC considers any payment amount an admission of guilt, at which point you must deal with all fines and penalties.
Pleading Guilty or No Contest
Some drivers feel pleading guilty and paying their fines is the easier route―especially when they know they are guilty or have no case.
Refer to Paying Your Traffic Ticket for more information about this option.
Avoid Additional Charges
You have 30 calendar days―which include weekends and holidays―from the date you receive the ticket to schedule a hearing. Day One is the day after you receive the ticket.
Once this time passes, you must pay a penalty fee equal to the amount of the original traffic ticket fine. You can still schedule a hearing at this point.
After 60 calendar days of failing to schedule a hearing, you no longer have the option to schedule a hearing. Your ticket becomes delinquent, you’re responsible for all fines and penalties, and:
- The DMV can suspend your license.
- Your debt can go to a collection agency.
Determine Where to Plead
DC handles traffic ticket cases at the Adjudication Services Office.
Inform the Court
There are five ways you can handle this step: by telling the ticketing officer, online, by phone, in person, or by mail.
1. Tell the Officer
You can tell the officer who issues the ticket that you want to contest it and schedule a hearing. Afterward, you’ll receive a hearing notice by mail letting you know the date and time.
You can schedule a hearing online from the DC DMV website. Have your ticket number handy.
3. In Person
Report to the Adjudication Services Office between 8:15 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Have your ticket with you, or bring identification to receive a printout.
4. By Phone
Call (866) 893-5023. Be prepared to provide your ticket number.
5. By Mail
Understand that this option is considered “mail adjudication,” meaning the entire process is your hearing. You won’t show up before a hearing examiner; the hearing examiner will make a decision based on what you send him.
To use this option, mail―
- Your completed ticket with the “Deny” box marked,
- A written summary or statement of your defense, and
- Any evidence, including photographs and legal documents
DMV Adjudication Services
Attn: Mail Adjudication
P.O. Box 37135
Washington, DC 20013
You’ll receive a postcard letting you know the DMV received your request, and within six months the hearing examiner will notify you of the verdict.
Consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney if:
- You want help preparing and presenting your case, including gathering evidence and subpoenaing witnesses.
- You’re open to negotiating a plea agreement.
- You’re facing serious charges, such as DUI or anything involving a felony.
Even drivers who choose mail adjudication can benefit from traffic ticket lawyers. These lawyers can help them gather and prepare all photographs, documents, and other relevant evidence to mail.
As you prepare for your case, keep these tips in mind:
- Practice your testimony, unless your attorney is speaking for you.
- Gather evidence and witnesses that can help prove your innocence or that the violation was unavoidable.
- Consider plea agreements to lesser charges with lesser penalties.
On your hearing date, you must present your hearing notice or valid driver’s license and your traffic ticket, so gather these items ahead of time.
Generally, the hearing examiner allows time for:
- Opening statements.
- Testimony, evidence, and witnesses from both sides.
- Questioning and cross examining.
- Closing statements.
The hearing examiner will then make a judgment, giving you a verdict.
You’re responsible for no traffic ticket fine or other penalties if your hearing examiner finds you not guilty; if he finds you guilty, however, you must handle your ticket fines and penalties.
Filing an Appeal
The Traffic Adjudication Appeals Board handles appeals.
You can appeal the hearing examiner’s verdict within 15 calendar days of the hearing date (or 18 calendar days of the decision letter’s postmarked date, if you chose mail adjudication).
To do so, you must:
- Complete an Appeals Application. (Form DMV-ADS-003).
- Pay the traffic ticket fine and any other financial penalties.
- Pay a $10 appeals fee.
- Pay an initial $50 transcript deposit fee. (You could be charged more later, if the $50 doesn’t cover the total transcription costs.)
The Notice of Appeals Application includes thorough instructions, including the address to which you must mail your application and fees.
NOTE: If the Board reverses your guilty verdict, you’ll receive a refund for all fines, penalties, and fees.
DC puts points on your driving record each time you plead or are found guilty of a traffic violation.
Check your driving record any time you:
- Receive a guilty verdict. Make sure the DMV adds only the number of points associated with the violation.
- Receive a not guilty verdict. Make sure the DMV adds no points to your record.
- Complete traffic school for point reduction. Make sure the DMV actually removes the points.
Visit DC Driving Records to get a copy of yours.
Typically, auto insurance providers raise rates for drivers who get guilty verdicts.Other Topics in This Section