Councilmember Allen Introduces Bill Creating New and Stronger Enforcement Tools to Reduce Dangerous Driving in the District

Today, Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6) is introducing legislation to reduce dangerous driving and expand accountability for drivers who make our roads unsafe. The bill improves street safety in three main areas: (1) enhanced booting, towing, and impounding of offenders’ vehicles based on repeat or serious traffic violations in a six-month window, (2) new authority for the Office of the Attorney General to bring civil suits against drivers or the vehicles themselves, and (3) stronger and more streamlined license revocation procedures for repeat DUI offenders.

“No matter where you live in the District, not a day goes by without a driver recklessly speeding with little regard for pedestrians, cyclists, or other drivers. Our current accountability tools are failing to change behavior or save lives,” said Councilmember Allen. “Driving on our roads is a privilege, and there should be serious, effective, and timely consequences when a driver breaks the law – especially repeatedly. This bill better focuses our dangerous driving laws on repeat offenders, creates a novel legal authority for the Attorney General to try to get bad drivers, including from states without reciprocity agreements, off our streets when other tools aren’t working, and fixes the communication problems between the Court and DMV we’ve seen in recent weeks with drunk driving enforcement. It’s also equitable: just because you can pay your ticket doesn’t mean you’re a safer driver. We want to offer second chances to people who try to follow the rules, regardless of their ability to pay, but go after those who think they can get away with endangering others.”

The bill is named the Strengthening Traffic Enforcement, Education, and Responsibility (STEER) Amendment Act of 2023. Councilmember Allen serves as the Chair of the Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment and has oversight of the District’s traffic laws, DDOT, and DMV. The bill follows a public hearing Councilmember Allen held on traffic enforcement on May 23, 2023 and builds on the Committee’s oversight of the DMV following that hearing, focusing on gaps in the District’s system for revoking licenses for anyone convicted of a DUI.

To improve safety on our streets, the bill:

Creates a Fairer, More Effective System of Traffic Enforcement

  • Creates a parallel, targeted system of enforcement based on tickets accumulated over any consecutive six-month period, regardless of whether the resulting fine is paid or unpaid.
    • Specifically, the Mayor may immobilize (i.e., boot or tow/impound) the vehicle, or suspend the driving privileges, of any driver who has been issued the following tickets within a six-month period:
      • Eight or more tickets for speeding 10 mph or less over the speed limit;
      • Six or more tickets for speeding 11 mph or more over the speed limit;
      • Two or more tickets for reckless driving (20+ mph over the speed limit);
      • One or more tickets of aggravated reckless driving (30+ mph over the speed limit); or
      • One or more tickets for displaying fake temporary or permanent tags
  • To help clear the backlog of vehicles eligible for booting/towing, allows the Mayor to enter into memoranda of agreement with private tow companies to enlist them in enforcement
  • Closes a potential loophole in the law to ban fake permanent tags; currently, only fake temporary tags are banned
    • Broadens the ban to prohibit the act of mounting, affixing, or otherwise displaying a fake tag to a motor vehicle; currently, the ban criminalizes the use of a motor vehicle displaying a fraudulent tag but doesn’t cover the act of mounting the fake tag;
  • Allows the Mayor to immobilize a vehicle or suspend driving privileges based on one conviction of using of a fake tag – this change would not apply to expired, but legitimate, temporary tags;

Strengthens Enforcement against DUI Offenses and Deadly Driving Behaviors

  • Provides that, upon conviction of a 3rd driving under the influence offense within 5 years, the sentencing judge must order the DMV to suspend the defendant’s driver’s license
  • Requires that a judge order the suspension of a person’s driver’s license upon any charge of negligent vehicular homicide while their criminal case is pending

Addresses Information Gaps between the DMV and the D.C. Superior Court

  • Requires the DMV to send a monthly report to the Court and OAG listing the licenses they have suspended pursuant to a court order, enabling the Court, OAG, and DMV to cross-reference data and identify any technical issues
  • Requires that the DMV send the Committee on Transportation and the Environment a report every six months listing the number of suspensions (without identifying information), providing another layer of oversight

Empowers the Office of the Attorney General to Go After Both In-State and Out-of-State Dangerous Drivers

  • Empowers OAG to bring civil suits against both in-state and out-of-state drivers who have moving violations, creating an additional tool if state agencies in Maryland and Virginia fail to take accountability for their dangerous drivers, in the way that we can require DC agencies to do;
    • In these civil suits, OAG can seek monetary damages not to exceed the fines owed, the suspension or revocation of a license, or booting/towing of the car;
    • If OAG wins a case against a driver and obtains a judgment, the District can demand – through the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution -- that DC, Maryland, Virginia, or any other state court enforce that judgment against the driver;
    • This legal practice mirrors upholding judgments similar to family court (divorce or child custody payments);

Requires that the DMV Create and Offer a Safe Driving Course

  • Requires drivers to complete the course before having a suspended / revoked license reinstated, getting a boot removed from their vehicle, or getting their vehicle released from impoundment;
  • Allows the DMV to waive fees based on participation in the safe driving course, at a rate of $100 per hour of participation, providing an alternative consequence for drivers who cannot afford to pay their fines;

Strengthens Reckless Driving and Aggravated Reckless Driving Offenses

  • Amends the definitions of reckless driving:
    • Currently, reckless driving is only defined by a nebulous reference to unsafe driving, with no clear bright line for which level of speeding would constitute reckless driving -- the bill sets a bright line for reckless driving at any 20+ mph over the speed limit; and
  • Expands the definition of aggravated reckless driving:
    • Current law defines aggravated reckless driving as either:
      • Driving 30+ mph over the speeding limit; or
      • Driving 20+ mph over the speed limit + (A) causing bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another or (B) causing property damage in excess of $1,000;
    • The bill also adds driving 20+ mph over the speed limit and colliding with another motor vehicle as a category of aggravated reckless driving.


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