Housing Complex

Police Plan to Issue More Jaywalking Tickets They Can’t Enforce

A police officer at 14th and K streets NW handed my colleague a flyer yesterday that could save her life. At least that was the idea. The flyer promotes D.C.'s Toward Zero Deaths campaign, aimed at the ambitious goal of eliminating all traffic deaths in the city.

According to the flyer, "Metropolitan Police are stepping up enforcement of pedestrian safety laws." It goes on to enumerate the various infractions and the penalties culprits will incur:


I will say first of all that I have never seen or heard of a D.C. resident getting a ticket for jaywalking. (While my colleague was talking to the cop, a woman crossed on a red light right next to them; the cop jogged over to her for a gentle ribbing, but not a ticket.) Still, the point that jumps out at me is the last one. Yes, technically a police officer can arrest you for refusing to give your name if he's writing you a ticket. But that's not much of a threat, for the simple reason that he can't compel you to give your real name. You're not required to show identification for a civil infraction like jaywalking, and so you can simply make up a believable name and get off scot-free. Only a dolt or a do-gooder would ever actually pay a jaywalking ticket.

With an informed populace, this pedestrian flyer campaign won't be particularly effective. The reverse side of the flyer, though, could have an impact: It informs drivers of the penalties they'll face if they don't follow the rules. And since you can't drive a car without a license, those penalties are actually enforceable.

  • MLD

    I know a couple people who have gotten jaywalking tickets, both at the same intersection (18th & N NW) and both during ticketing blitzes.

    It is counterproductive for the police to go after people who jaywalk in places where the signals are set up stupidly (as in the aforementioned intersection) or when the jaywalking they do presents no danger. People just see it as petty enforcement when there are bigger dangers out there (like cars who hit people who are walking completely legally!)

  • Matt

    >he can't compel you to give your real name...You're not required to show identification for a civil infraction

    From what I recall, that is incorrect. IIRC, you're require to identify yourself to a police officer (but not required to have photo ID), which usually entails your name, address, etc. Providing a false identity is illegal, and an arrestable offense.

  • http://metroderp.tumblr.com MetroDerp

    Because it's totally the pedestrian that will be the killer, not the two-ton hunk of steel. Great priorities.

    (And that's without getting into the traffic sewers that are the avenues and traffic circles. If you follow the lights it can take 10 minutes to get across.)

  • BP

    I remember witnessing multiple jaywalking tickets being issued a few summers ago when the Fenty (I think) administration made that a priority. I saw an MPD officer cite a lunchtime jogger, despite the violator not having any identification on his person.

    But my favorite was seeing the Wash. Post's EJ Dionne receive a jaywalking ticket near what is now the Shake Shack on Connecticut Ave, NW.

  • Sandlynn

    I've been practically mowed down twice while legally crossing in the crosswalk of Connecticut Ave., NW at Windom street by cars turning left onto Connecticut. The same has happened at Connecticut and Albemarle, despite having police squad cars parked in the neighborhood with actual officers sitting inside them. So, I don't see the point in giving tickets to pedestrians when they're being systematically picked off by inattentive drivers, driving carelessly. Where's the money in that?

  • carlosthedwarf

    I received one of those last year by Farragut Square. It really pissed me off, because it was the day after I almost got run over by a car driving in reverse down 17th Street.

    The only place I've ever seen people get jaywalking tickets in DC is by the Woodley Park metro, where people like to cross Connecticut mid-block at the metro escalators.

  • Rich Ranallo

    I can't drive a cat even with a license.

  • Hillman

    I guess I'm a dolt or a do-gooder.

    I got a jaywalking ticket on Mass Ave NE.

    I was clearly in the wrong.

    I thought, silly me, that it was my civic duty to pay it, and to not waste the court's time with making up fake names.

    My only complaint is that this was clearly a publicity stunt, as the cops had pulled over about a dozen people, and then we had to stand in line for twenty minutes to get our ticket.

    I see jaywalking in DC pretty much constantly.

    If it poses a hazard they should be ticketed.

    If it's midnight and there's not a car in sight, maybe less of a hazard...

  • Janson

    My mother recently got a jaywalking ticket while visiting me from out of town. What I really like about this campaign is that if you kill someone with your car, even when driving up onto the sidewalk, your extremely unlikely to get a ticket. But, walk across an empty street, harm no one, and wham, ticket.

  • AG

    "... he can't compel you to give your real name."

    While no one is required to present photo ID, I believe MPD has the right to detain until a person's identification can be verified. I am not sure i) how officers verify one's identification, or ii) whether an officer would take the time to do so for a minor infraction. However, City Paper effectively encouraging readers to provide false information to police officers is irresponsible.

  • Corky

    A ticket is not enough. Some of these idiots running out in the middle of the street should be locked up. I've seen mothers walking toddlers into traffic. Teens stepping in front of moving cars and getting an attitude when the car almost hits them. Adults texting and looking at their phones as they step right into the path of a car or bus. For all of you pedestrians who think drivers are evil, you should be glad that at least one of us (the driver) is watching where he is going. Otherwise, a lot of you would be dead. Even if you were in the right and had the light--if you don't watch where you are going, you'll be dead right!!

  • SEis4ME

    @Corky...here! here! I'm a pedestrian 80% of the time and can speak from my own experiences about how "we" are.

  • Cow

    I have most definitely given MPD officers a false name for a jaywalking offense and it works just fine.

  • rizzdizzle

    I once got a ticket for 'walking as to create a pedestrian hazard' for 5 whole dollars

  • JoeBlow

    My favorite are the oh-so-cool kids that leisurely shuffle across U St. without ever regarding the light or the traffic as if to say, "I dare you to hit me." I typically don't slow down for these fools. They tend to quicken their step as I'm baring down on them in my 2-ton Ecalade.

  • jm

    When I was out running a few years back I got nailed on 14th Street. The police followed my ambulance to the hospital and gave me a jaywalking ticket while I was in a hospital bed covered in blood.

  • Corky

    JM--that is so cold blooded. If you've been hit, I think it is safe to say that a ticket would do nothing to reinforce the need for caution. That reminds me of an incident on U street not too long ago when a bike was crushed by a truck. It was very unsettling to see the mangled bike the street first thing in the morning. I heard that the cops gave the injured biker a ticket. Not cool!!

  • lol

    Probably because the bicyclist ran red light/stop sign and got nailed.

  • Typical DC BS

    Pedestrians need to remember the laws of physics when deciding to exercise their "rights" when competing with 2 ton machines. They may be in the right when walking, but they'll lose EVERY time when they get hit.

  • Hillman

    Cops typically follow people to the hospital to give tickets if there is a dispute involving blame.

    If the cop feels giving a ticket can more directly establish blame they will go to the extra effort to go to the hospital to give a ticket.

    Not saying that's what happened here as I wasn't there, but having known a few cops the only time they usually take that extra step is for that reason.

  • Hillman

    Like everything in DC it's a matter of degree.

    Drunks wandering out into U Street Friday at midnight, in front of traffic? Should be $100 fine every single time.

    On a side residential street when there isn't a car in sight to get to your friends house on the other street?

    Some discretion is in order for that.

  • Graham

    To clarify, when stopped for a criminal infraction, they'll ask for your ID. If you say you don't have any on you, that may or may not be believable. They will then ask for your name. If you give a name that's clearly bullshit, like Yosemite Sam, then they will challenge you and if you continue they'll be able to arrest you for false personation. If you give a random name, it's true that you will be issued a ticket in that name and go on your way.

    However, most people when stopped by a cop who demands to see ID, are going to give up ID. If it's 8PM and you're going out for the night, then you have your license to go to a bar. If I know this, the cop does too.

  • drown

    I saw cops handing out tickets at K & 17th near Farragut Sq last week. If only they spent as much time arresting drives going through red lights at that same intersection they could grow the cty's coffers and make the city safer. Pedestrians are not the problem. Road rage, innatentive drivers and pedestrian unsafe intersections ARE.


    Just another way to RIPOFF the citizen's money
    under pretext of law. They have no shame.

  • Greg

    Come out to Union Station.
    They have one of the worst setups for crosswalks by that Bike Path that NO BIKER USES!!!

    And how about ticketing some of the aggressive bikers.
    I love biking, but I follow the rules of the road especially not driving opposite of traffic and obeying lights.

    Bikers want to share the road and laws to protect them, but hey need to follow laws to protect themselves.

    This same notion applies to us as pedestrians.
    But there is a light there that needs another light in the median of that bike path. Otherwise someone will get hit one day. I'm sure the Taxi drivers making a right out of Union Station can back me on this.

  • theghost917

    I got stopped last night on 14th and Irving, NW. No cars were coming down the street, a bus was picking up people and the cop car looked parked (yeah I crossed right in front of the cop because well... I'm an adult and know how to cross the street). He stopped me... asked for my info, ran it, then gave me a warning. After he me gave my ID back I told him it was a BS stop (and felt like harassment under the circumstances but did not say that ) that he stopped me and he agreed by saying: "yeah, it was"... LOL. He went on to speak about pedestrian deaths on that corner. At the end it just felt like an excuse to run my info--under the guise of Jaywalking. Someone else also crossed right behind me who didn't get stopped.

    Now that I'm reading these comments, I'm wondering how many of you got your information ran (It would be interesting to know and I have a sneaking suspicion that didn't happen to many of you).

    Anyway... I told him it was a waste of both our time. I could see him stopping me if I was crossing into traffic or being reckless--which I never do. I went on to walk home where I continued to Jwalk the entire way.

  • James P Schlusser

    its an arrestable offense to provide a false identity but how is the COP supposed to know if I give a real name and address but one that isnt mine? Its not like he's going to hold me wile they check it out just for a minor violation.

  • James P Schlusser

    What court? You missed the point. If you give a fake name and address the appearance ticket will go to the fake address.