Drivers try to fight back against decades old tickets issued by DC DMV

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FOX 5 was first to report that D.C.'s new collections department was issuing tickets that were decades old to unsuspecting drivers.

Some of these fines are 30 years old with no ticket to prove the violation ever happened. You also can't fight the tickets because they are older than 60 days.

Drivers from the District and Maryland are now going on the offensive and took their cases to D.C.'s Department of Motor Vehicles.

The head of the DMV said that people can go to their Adjudication Services office on C Street in Northwest and get "research" into the old parking tickets.

We wanted to see if that would really work. They wouldn't give us permission to bring a television camera. But since it is a public building, we brought one anyway. But even with our camera rolling, our drivers were left frustrated.

Marny and Stanley Britt were forced to pay thousands of dollars in old tickets that they never knew about -- just to get tags on their new car.

Corrie Banks lost her driver's license in Maryland when D.C. suddenly slapped her with thousands of dollars in fines for tickets that were decades old.

They all went to the DMV because the director told FOX 5 that her staff would help with these tickets that are coming out of nowhere.

"They'll look into the system, do research," Lucinda Babers told us.

We wanted to show what happens to the average person, but our camera got us special treatment. Vanessa Newton, spokeswoman for the DC DMV, took the Britts, the Banks and FOX 5 to a back office to discuss the issue. But that was the end of the special treatment.

"Your legal process is ended," Newton told the Britts. "There's nothing more we can do because by paying the tickets and going into a ticket payment plan, you have admitted guilt."

"You gave us no choice but to do that," Marny said. "You held us over a barrel. You're robbing us because you said you have to do this. You can fight it later. But right now, if you want your tags and you want to drive, you have to do this."

"DMV has to follow the laws that the council has implemented," said Newton.

Marny wanted to know why $4,050 of tickets from the 1990s were just coming up now.

"The clean hands law says that you cannot renew driver's licenses or registrations and get tags if you have tickets over $100, so therefore, why were we allowed to do that if we had all these outstanding tickets? Because the law should not allow us to do that, but you did," she told Newton.

"Well, we did up until a point because then you got to a point when you had to pay the tickets because it had flowed over," Newton responded.

"Why didn't it flow over before?" asked Marny.

"There are many different things of how the tickets flow over," said Newton.

A key point in the Britts' defense is that some tickets were on cars that Stanley didn't own at the time -- that had Virginia plates.

"If I go to Virginia and I get something from them saying that tag was not in his name or registered to that car at that time when you wrote the ticket, and shows you you're wrong, will you refund the money?" asked Marny.

"We cannot do that," said Newton.

After the meeting, Stanley Britt felt even worse.

"I've been robbed without a pistol," he said. "That's how I feel."

Corrie and Michael Banks felt the same way. Corrie said she never owned some of the cars listed on the $7,000 of tickets from decades ago.

"Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration has confirmed that she was the registered and titled owner of those vehicles during the time that the tickets were issued," Newton said.

Corrie was overwhelmed, so I tried to help.

"I did not own an Acura car -- ever," she said.

"Okay, then I will go back and … we will double check that," said Newton.

It really doesn't matter if some of the parking tickets are not Corrie's. Maryland will not let her get a driver's license until D.C. gives the okay.

"It works with Virginia and Maryland, so it's reciprocity," said Newton. "So when you have a moving violation and it's unpaid, your license is not reinstated, we report that to Maryland."

But reciprocity is only for moving violations and not parking tickets. So why can't Corrie just pay that one moving violation from 2002?

"In order to have your license reinstated, you not only have to pay the moving violation, but you have to pay all of your other outstanding debts," Newton said.

Remember when Marny Britt asked earlier if they could prove that the cars with Virginia plates didn't belong to Stanley at the time? She did just that and got a letter from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles that says the state purged its databases. They could only say that one of the nine license plates from Virginia belonged to Stanley.

Unfortunately, our day at the DC DMV was a failure for the Britts and the Banks. But it showed that even if you have VIP treatment with a television station watching, you are still going to get stuck paying for old tickets -- even if some are not even yours.

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