D.C. police jailing motorists for expired tags

Police in Washington, D.C. typically issue a $100 citation for vehicles with tags that are expired past 30 days, though there can be instances where more serious measures can be taken. Since it’s unlawful to operate a non-registered vehicle in the District, police can stop and arrest those drivers. Under the law, offenders can face up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to 30 days in jail.

I don’t understand what the problem is. We have state laws that say it is okay to lock up someone with brown skin while we figure out whether the person is in the country legally, even if that person is an American citizen, so why make such a big deal about law breakers being thrown in jail? Oh, wait. I forgot. These people are white.

What part of “illegal” do these people not understand?

I’m struggling with the arrest part. Unless times have changed, and operating an unregistered vehicle is a criminal offense in DC , how could the driver be arrested? Being unlawful civilly or criminally are two different things.

The article states that jail time up to 30 days can be levied by the court. An immediate trip to the Hotel Lanier might keep the perp from fleeing DC. And we don’t know the circumstances beyond the 2 kids. Has she been popped for this before? Any other record? I need more information before I get too excited about this. It is certainly possible that the DC police overreacted, but we’ll have to wait and see.

"Townsend claimed the policy of handing out fines for registrations expired for fewer than 30 days was implemented recently. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in an interview last year that the authority to arrest is “discretionary.”

Let’s see some numbers on arrests vs tickets. My guess is tickets are more prevalent and if the officer has the opportunity to jail a suspicious offender based on discretion don’t handcuff the police.

Its probably basic policing stuff. The more specific reasons that there are floating around for arresting people, the more police actually have discretion in terms of doing things that don’t or won’t easily fit into the law. I.e. I’d imagine there’s something behind it, such as increasing the ability of police to pursue suspected “illegals” or drug stuff or whatever when they don’t have anything concrete to go on. An expired tag provides the “cover” to detain/question/investigate people for any number of reasons unrelated to the tags.

Then, there’s also just the general push to pull more revenue out of traffic enforcement. Tax revenues down = traffic enforcement up.

Before we wave around the ability to arrest, remember that is really serious business. Police put themselves at risk for unlawful arrest if the offense does not warrant it and is not criminal. If it is, regardless of the offense, you can be arrested. If it isn 't, you can’t, it’s that simple. The police do not determine if an offense is criminal or not. That is defined in the statutes of that state. If tags expired beyond 30 days is not a criminal offense as defined by that state, you cannot be arrested for it…It’s that simple and it’s unfair to say the cop on the beat makes a decision to arrest without a defined set of circumstances. It seems the court can order the arrest as well as a criminal offense but after the fact.

It is NOT a policy decision ! The idea that police “routinely detain” people under the guise of expired tags is a Dirty Harry and TV police drama mentality. It doesn’t happen. If you are asked to stay or remain anywhere for questioning with respect to an accident or other occurance requiring their investigation and you refuse, you may then be arrested for interfering with the police in the performance of their duties. Refusal then may become an arresting offense. Giving false information can be interpreted that way too. But you can’t lawfully be detained without arrest. Once you are arrested, you no longer are required to respond to questioning without legal council…so arresting people is not something done lightly, neither is “detaining” people. Police are not collection agencies either.

dagosa, apparently that diatribe was an attack on what I said?

Read again what I wrote. Then read again what you wrote. You simply reinforced what I was saying.

Whitey: Little correction. DC is majority black and latino.

To quote Stephen Colbert, DC is “the chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a graham cracker crust of corruption. It’s a Mallomar, I guess, is what I’m describing, is a Mallomar. It’s a seasonal cookie.”

For giggles (and to keep this post from being flagged), here is the full quote from Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2006:

“Mayor Nagin! Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the chocolate city! Yeah, give it up. Mayor Nagin, I’d like to welcome you to Washington, D.C., the chocolate city with a marshmallow center and a graham cracker crust of corruption. It’s a Mallomar, I guess, is what I’m describing, is a Mallomar. It’s a seasonal cookie.”

Cig… Sorry I made it seem so personal. Comments were directed to others as well. I don’t pretend to assume that politics of a city don’t play a roll in local law enforcement, but I don’t feel cops in general should be seen as political arms as well. The job is too difficult to assume that is even a thought when dealing with any city’s public. But, I hear what you are saying. If you think it a diatribe instead of a little enlightenment, my apology again. “Bitter and abusive” was not it’s intent… It certainly pales in comparison to the full page ads of others in the past.

35 years ago my (dear departed) brother was locked up in DC for delinquent parking tickets.
He was double parked one day and a cruiser came along and took him away.

dagosa, no worries. Sorry I read it that way. When I think about laws like that I actually think of them in many ways as stuff that makes the work lives of cops more manageable. They can get so hand cuffed by rules that its hard to do what they think needs to be done. So there are often of very “malleable” rules floating around that allow them to do what they need to need to while being able to cover themselves from political b.s.

Is this just anecdotal evidence, or have people actually been taken away in cuffs for expired tags? I’d expect there’s more to the story—like the tags were expired but then it’s noticed that the driver has a suspended license, etc.

If this is policy now, I’m sure the cops are just as delighted about it as the poor sap with expired tags.

Cig…handcuffed by rules;" that’s a good one.;=) Usually, when situations get difficult to manage, they are often topics of the daily briefings prior to going on patrol. Then, like the military, it’s all about the training and preparation.