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Not her car, not her ticket

May 22, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • This is the grainy photo Pearl Myers received showing a license plate thought to be hers. On Friday, however, the Metropolitan Police Department acknowledged that one letter was unclear and might not match her license plate.
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HAGERSTOWN -- Despite what her traffic ticket says, Pearl Myers of Hagerstown is certain she didn't drive through a red light in Washington, D.C., on March 17.

"This is weird," she said. "I've never been to Washington in my life."

On Friday, the Metropolitan Police Department in D.C. agreed that the car photographed by a red-light camera might not have been Myers' and said it will dismiss the ticket.

In a grainy close-up photograph of the car's license plate, at least one letter on the license plate appears to be different than the corresponding letter on Myers' tag.

After hearing from Myers about her frustration fighting the ticket, The Herald-Mail asked D.C. police about it Wednesday.

"The program manager from our Automated Enforcement Unit has reviewed this information and will be asking that this ticket be voided because one of the characters is not clear," police department spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump wrote in an e-mail on Friday. "She will forward confirmation to the citizen as it should be completed within a week or so. Thank you for bringing this to our attention."

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Until Friday, Myers, who lives in Frederick Manor in Hagerstown, was facing months of disputing the ticket.

Copies of red-light camera snapshots she received in the mail are fuzzy. Online, they're clearer -- and show a car that's a different model, shape and color than hers.

One frame shows a car before a red light, supposedly on Military Road at 14th Street in northwest D.C. The next frame shows the same car past the red light.

A third picture is a closeup of the license plate. The registration is similar to hers -- HRF 234 -- but doesn't appear to be identical.

The second letter on the plate in the photo appears to be thinner than an R, possibly an N. None of the letters is perfectly clear.

There are other clues that the cars are different, such as a round image under the license plate of the photographed car, which Myers' car doesn't have.

Myers said her nephew, Bill Holtzman Jr., helped her look up the snapshots online and pointed out differences between her car and the one in the pictures.

When she called D.C. to protest, she said, she was told to mail a picture of her car and a copy of the registration, which she did.

In an April 5 written response, D.C.'s Department of Motor Vehicles wrote that the ticket would be suspended until a hearing officer reviewed the information she sent.

"It can take up to 6 months for a decision to be rendered," the letter says.

Myers was baffled by the experience, but took it with good humor.

She joked that her Saturn might have set out for D.C. on its own.

"That's an automatic car," Myers said, "but if it's making trips I don't know about, it's a little too automatic."

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