If you've ever wanted to fight a parking or traffic ticket in the District, you know it can be a huge investment in time and effort. Many people just pay the ticket rather than face the aggravation.
But apparently there's another way to improve your chances: Become a D.C. taxi driver.
News4 has learned that thousands of tickets issued to taxi drivers for violating cabbie rules and traffic regulations have been routinely dismissed. Documents obtained by News4 show that 66 percent of all contested tickets for cab drivers are dismissed -- higher than the average for ordinary citizens.
We'd tell you what that average is but D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles told city workers to not respond to any of out questions on ticket writing and who and how those tickets are handled. Nickles said he could not confirm or deny an FBI investigation into the taxi tickets.
The FBI also told News4 that it doesn't comment on investigations or even whether there is one. But high level sources said the unusually high ticket write-offs have attracted the FBI's attention. Questions have been raised about outside influence on the city adjudication bureau.
City documents show that of 5,131 contested taxi violations from 2007 until early 2009, more than 3,400 were dismissed by authorities. At, say, $25 per ticket, that would mean at least $85,000 in lost revenue. Sources said that the actual figure is much larger.
Questions about the taxicab tickets come as the FBI and authorities press their two-year investigation in allegations of bribery and corruption in the city taxi industry. A senior staff member for D.C. Council Jim Graham was arrested and charged with accepting illegal bribes. Dozens of taxi drivers have been arrested and charged with improper licenses. That probe is continuing.
Council member Graham is in charge of the committee that oversees the taxicab industry, but he has given up that authority until the law enforcement probes are completed. At-Large Council member Michael Brown now oversee the industry and he told News4 on Friday that he will hold hearings on the taxicab tickets next month.