If you received a ticket for a vehicle-for-hire (such as Uber or Lyft) or taxicab violation, you must respond to the ticket at the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).
But pay close attention to the ticket and the instructions on the back. OAH only handles tickets for Title 31 violations. Title 31 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations (DCMR) covers Department of For-Hire Vehicle (DFHV) regulations.
If you received a ticket for a violation under Title 18, which covers parking, speeding, and other traffic violations, you must respond with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), not OAH.
Also, OAH does not handle initial complaints against for-hire vehicles and operators. If you would like to file a complaint, you must contact DFHV directly. Complaints may be referred to OAH after DFHV closes its complaint process, but complaints do not start at OAH.
If you already responded to a Title 31 ticket and have been scheduled for a hearing at OAH, visit the DFHV Hearings page for hearing instructions and access to the virtual hearing calendar.
Whether you just received a ticket or are preparing for a hearing, this page can help you learn more about DFHV violations and the OAH process. This page does not give legal advice. You can only get legal advice from a lawyer.
Also, OAH tries to keep information on this page up to date, but laws and procedures sometimes change. You should refer to the information on your ticket, orders from OAH, and official sources of laws and rules for the most current information and requirements regarding your case.
How do I answer a Notice?
You have three answer choices:
- Admit the violation and pay the fine.
- Deny the violation and be scheduled for a hearing before an OAH judge.
- Admit the violation but provide an explanation in writing that may convince an OAH judge to lower or waive the fine.
If you want to admit the violation and pay the fine, you simply need to send or deliver your fine payment. OAH does not handle fine payments for these cases, but you can visit the Department of Motor Vehicles payment portal to pay online. When you admit the violation and pay the fine, you waive your right to a hearing. So, when you pay the fine, the process is over.
If you want to contest the violation or the fine amount and have a judge decide your case, you can deny the violation or admit the violation with an explanation. If you file one of these answers, you do not need to pay the ticket yet. If you admit with explanation, you may also include documents or photos to support your explanation.
You can use the Request for a Hearing to Contest a Taxicab or For-Hire Vehicle Ticket form to file your answer. The ticket should have filing instructions, but you can also visit the Filings & Forms page for more information about how to file things with OAH.
You should also refer to the OAH Rules. OAH Rule 2804 describes answer options and requirements.
What are the OAH Rules and where can I find them?
The OAH Rules explain all the steps required to complete the OAH hearing process, from requesting a hearing to appealing a judge’s final decision. You can find the OAH Rules on the Rules & Laws page. You must follow the OAH Rules throughout the process.
The Rules have two parts: Chapter 28 and Chapter 29. All the rules that apply to DFHV cases are in Chapter 28, so you will not need to know anything from Chapter 29, which has special rules for other case types. The table of contents for Chapter 28 can help guide you to information you need.
Where can I find laws and regulations that apply to my case?
Every case has its own facts and circumstances, so some cases may involve laws and regulations not listed on this page. However, the D.C. Code and the D.C. Municipal Regulations (DCMR) generally cover DFHV ticket cases.
The D.C. Code is where you can find laws passed by the D.C. Council. Within the bounds of the law, the D.C. agency with authority to enforce the laws may then make regulations creating specific requirements and procedures. Regulations are often more detailed than laws, but laws have greater authority. If there is a discrepancy between a law and a regulation, the law applies. When a judge decides a case at OAH, he or she may apply both laws and regulations to reach a final decision.
You can find the laws creating DFHV and establishing for-hire vehicle requirements in Title 50, Chapter 3, Subchapter I of the D.C. Code. This subchapter includes, among other things, sections about the operation of taxicabs and private vehicles-for-hire. This subchapter gives DFHV the authority to enforce the law and make specific standards and requirements for the operation of for-hire vehicles.
DFHV’s regulations are in Title 31 of the DCMR. This Title includes sections with operating requirements for taxicabs and private for-hire vehicles. Title 31 also has information about civil fines and other penalties for violations.
Each title, chapter, and section of the D.C. Code and DCMR has a general heading that summarizes that portion of the law or regulations. These headings can help guide you to the sections that apply to your case.
The ticket should also have a citation or reference to the law or regulation DFHV says you violated. For example, a ticket given to a private for-hire vehicle driver who doesn’t have an appropriate logo displayed on their vehicle could read, in the “VIOLATION” section: “T934 – IMPROPER DISPLAY OF TRADE DRESS.” “T934” is just the traffic violation code, not a legal citation, but you can use the headings in the D.C. Code and DCMR to find the relevant laws and regulations. So, using this example, you can click the link above for the appropriate subchapter of the D.C. Code, and looking at the list of sections, you will see that Section 50-301.29d is titled “Trade dress requirements for private vehicles-for-hire.” Similarly, you can click the above link for Title 31 DCMR, and you will see that Chapter 19 is titled “Private Vehicles-for-Hire.” If you click on that Chapter number, the list of sections includes, “Private Sedan Operators – Requirements,” which also discusses trade dress requirements. In short, the D.C. Code and DCMR headings can help you find the relevant laws and regulations.
If I admit with an explanation, what do I have to do next?
After you file your answer and supporting documents, there is nothing else you need to do, unless the judge sends a written order with more instructions. You do not need to pay the fine amount when you file your answer.
Generally, when a driver admits a violation with an explanation, the OAH judge will send the driver and DFHV an order that gives the agency an opportunity to respond to the driver’s written explanation. After each side has an opportunity to give information in writing, the judge will then consider all the written explanations and supporting documents given by both sides and will make a final decision based on all the information.
You will eventually receive a “final order” that will explain the judge’s decision about the violation and the fine amount. Click on “How does a judge make a final decision?” below for more information.
If I deny a violation, how do I prepare for a hearing?
If you file an answer of “Deny,” you will be scheduled for a hearing. You will receive a postcard with basic instructions on how to attend hearing, but hearing preparation generally involves each side collecting the information they want the judge to know and planning how to present the information during the hearing.
Information you present during a hearing is called “evidence.” There are two broad categories of evidence:
- Verbal testimony (what you and other witnesses say at the hearing)
- Documents, photographs, or other physical items
For testimony, you can practice telling your side of the story before the hearing. If you have witnesses that will testify on your behalf, you can ask your witnesses to practice their testimony as well. Practicing your testimony can help make sure you and your witnesses don’t accidentally leave out important information and can help you feel more comfortable on the day of the hearing.
Documents, photographs, or other items you plan to use to support your case are initially called “exhibits.” You should collect all your exhibits before the hearing so that you can file copies with OAH and “serve” copies on the other party by the deadline given on the postcard hearing notice. “Serving” means delivering, mailing, or faxing a copy of the exhibit to the other party. You can also serve exhibits by email if you and the other party have agreed in writing to allow service by email.
Also, as you prepare exhibits, keep in mind that OAH is a separate agency from DFHV. That means that OAH does not automatically have copies of any documents you may have received from DFHV. To use those documents at the hearing, you still need to file copies with OAH.
As part of your hearing preparation, you should also keep in mind that properly filing an exhibit does not automatically mean that the judge can rely on the information in the exhibit when making a decision. Instead, you need to be prepared to introduce the exhibit during your testimony or a witness’s testimony. In other words, you or a witness will need to describe the item and may need to answer questions about it, so that the judge can be satisfied that the item is relevant to the case and is reliable. After you or a witness describe an exhibit and answer any questions from the judge or the other party, you can then ask the judge to admit the exhibit into evidence. If the judge allows the exhibit into evidence, you can then refer to the item in detail during your testimony, and the judge can rely on the item when making a decision. You need to be prepared for this process for each individual exhibit. It is a good idea to bring a list of all the exhibits you plan on using during the hearing, so you can keep track of what you have talked about and whether the judge has admitted the exhibit into evidence.
Here are some of the common OAH Rules that apply to hearing preparation: Rule 2809 (Filing of Papers); Rule 2811 (How to Serve a Paper); Rule 2812 (Calculating Deadlines); Rule 2813 (Motions Procedure); Rule 2821 (Hearings and Evidence). Other rules may apply, so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the OAH Rules’ table of contents so that you know where to go to look for particular requirements. The OAH Rules are on the Rules & Laws page.
How do I send documents or other exhibits I want to use at the hearing?
All exhibits must be filed with OAH at least five days before your hearing date.
You can file exhibits with OAH in person, by mail, or electronically. Visit the Filings & Forms page for more information about filing options.
What can I expect at a hearing?
Currently, all DFHV hearings are held remotely. OAH will send you a postcard with instructions, but you can see get more information and access the virtual hearing calendar on the DFHV Hearings page.
An evidentiary hearing is generally divided into three main parts:
- Opening statements
- Presentations of evidence
- Closing arguments
An opening statement is your chance to give the judge a broad overview of your case and what you intend to prove through your evidence. The opening statement is not testimony and does not count as evidence, however. So, remember to present all of your evidence during the next part of the hearing, even if you talked about it already in your opening statement.
The presentation of evidence is the main part of the hearing. The judge will explain how the hearing will go before it begins, but the side with the “burden of proof” normally goes first when giving evidence. For a DFHV ticket case, the burden of proof is on the agency, meaning the agency normally goes first and must give sufficient facts to prove that the violation occurred. If no representative from the agency comes to the hearing, then the agency cannot meet the burden of proof, and you may automatically win.
After the agency presents its evidence, it will then be your turn to give evidence. You can give testimony and, if the judge allows your exhibits into evidence, talk about the documents or other items you have as evidence. You can also have your witnesses attend and ask them questions to get them to testify on your behalf. Asking questions of your own witnesses is called “direct examination.”
After you or a witness are done giving testimony, the other side can ask questions about the testimony that was given. This is called “cross examination.” Likewise, after the other side’s witnesses give testimony as part of their presentation of evidence, you will have the opportunity to ask them questions. However, neither side is required to ask cross examination questions, and the judge will not assume you agree with the testimony of the other side’s witnesses if you choose not to question them. The judge may also have questions for the parties and witnesses throughout the hearing.
Finally, after both sides have presented their evidence, each side can give a closing argument. A closing argument is not required but is your opportunity to summarize your evidence and arguments as to why you should win. The closing argument is not evidence, and you generally cannot introduce new exhibits during your closing or talk about information that was not admitted into evidence.
Throughout the process, keep in mind that all evidence and arguments are given directly to the judge. An evidentiary hearing is not an opportunity for the parties to talk and argue between themselves. So, you should practice your opening statement, presentation of evidence, and closing argument as if you are speaking directly to the judge.
I do not speak English very well. Can I get an interpreter?
Yes. Upon request, OAH will provide a free court-certified interpreter at your hearing. You cannot have a friend or family member interpret for you during a hearing.
You may request an interpreter when you file your answer, or you may request an interpreter at any other time by calling OAH at (202) 442-9094 or by emailing [email protected].
If you have not requested an interpreter by the day of your hearing, you should let the judge know that you need an interpreter, and the judge can try to get an interpreter. If the judge cannot find an interpreter right away, the judge will need to reschedule the hearing to give time for OAH to schedule an interpreter for a new hearing date.
OAH will also provide an interpreter if you need to speak with an OAH Customer Service Representative or Resource Center staff, whether visiting in person or calling by phone. Simply ask for an interpreter and identify your language when you visit or call, and OAH staff will contact an interpreter to assist.
I have an impairment that makes it hard for me to attend a hearing. Can I get an accommodation?
Yes. Upon request, OAH will provide reasonable accommodations to allow you to participate in your hearing. You may request an accommodation when you file your answer, or you may request an accommodation at any other time by calling OAH at (202) 442-9094 or by emailing [email protected]. Please explain the accommodation you need, and OAH staff will get in touch with you to plan and schedule reasonable accommodations for the day of your hearing.
What if I need to change my hearing date?
You may request a different hearing date, also called a “continuance.”
For this type of request, you must first reach out to the other party to see if they will agree to a different hearing date. The other party doesn’t have to agree, or even respond. But you at least need to make a good faith effort to get the other party’s consent.
You then must file your request with OAH and send a copy of the request to the other party. To make sure you give OAH all the information needed for this type of request, you may use the Request for a Different Hearing Date form.
You should never assume that a request is granted. If your hearing date is approaching and you have not received a written response, please contact the OAH Clerk’s Office to see if the judge has acted on your request. If the judge has not acted on the request by your hearing date, then the hearing will be held as originally scheduled and you will be required to attend.
OAH Rule 2813 has more information about filing case-related requests, also called “motions.” The OAH Rules are on the Rules & Laws page.
What if I miss my hearing?
If you missed your hearing, and you still want a hearing, you must ask for a new hearing date in writing as soon as possible. Even if the judge sends a Final Order in the other party’s favor before you file your request, the judge can still grant a new hearing and change the final order. However, you must give a good reason for having missed the hearing. To make a request, you may complete the Request for a New Hearing form and file the form with OAH and serve a copy on the other party.
OAH Rule 2828 explains more about this type of request. OAH Rule 2813 has more information about filing case-related requests, also called “motions.” The OAH Rules are on the Rules & Laws page.
How does a judge make a final decision?
The judge will not make a final decision about your case during a hearing. Rather, the judge will take time after the hearing to carefully consider all the evidence before making a final decision in writing. The judge’s written decision is called a “final order.” The final order will be sent to all parties to the case and will explain the facts of the case as determined by the judge, the laws that apply to the case, and the judge’s legal conclusions based on how the law applies to the facts.
The final order will also explain your appeal rights, in case you disagree with the judge’s decision.
What can I do if I disagree with a judge’s final order?
If you disagree with a final order, you may either:
- ask the OAH judge to reconsider the decision or grant relief from the final order, or
- file an appeal with the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Visit the Closed Case Forms page, under “Filings & Forms,” for more information and instructions.
I need more help.
If you are representing yourself and need additional help, you may talk with someone with the OAH Resource Center. Please call (202)-442-9094 and press “4” from the main menu, or send an email to [email protected]. The OAH Resource Center cannot give legal advice or be your lawyer, but our staff are happy to answer questions and give general information to help you through the OAH process.