On First Vote, DC Council Approves Omnibus Traffic Safety Legislation Creating Strong Accountability On Repeat Dangerous Drivers

Today, the DC Council overwhelmingly voted to approve on first vote Councilmember Charles Allen’s legislation to hold dangerous drivers accountable in the District by strengthening enforcement with several new tools to crack down on excessive speeding, including: a separate, parallel violations point system for automated traffic camera violations, new authority for the District’s Attorney General to go after dangerous vehicles in civil court, and closing information-sharing gaps between the Court and the DMV, among additional provisions.

Dangerous driving is a prevalent and growing safety issue. The bill advances as the District suffered 52 traffic deaths in 2023, an increase of 48% from 2022.

“Dangerous driving is far too common in every DC neighborhood. It’s obvious right now that a significant number of drivers do not fear accountability for speeding, driving recklessly, or driving drunk. And why should they? Nothing about their experience tells them there are consequences,” said Councilmember Allen, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment. “That’s about to change. After extensive public testimony and oversight, the bill approved today will create real, commonsense accountability measures to reduce speeding and reckless behavior in our neighborhoods and close loopholes blocking accountability.” 

The Strengthening Traffic Enforcement, Education, and Responsibility Act of 2023 (“STEER Act”) would strengthen DC’s laws against dangerous driving in several ways, focusing on repeat offenders and those committing egregious reckless driving violations.

The STEER Act, as passed by the Council on first vote:  

  • Creates an additional point system for documented high-speed driving resulting in vehicle immobilization: The bill creates a point system for booting and or towing vehicles whether fines are paid or unpaid, focusing consequences on dangerous driving over the ability to pay. Currently, drivers can accumulate points on their driver’s license for tickets issued by law enforcement that result in license suspension, and cars can be booted or towed for having two or more unpaid moving violations or parking tickets. In addition to these two enforcement paths, under the new point system that will operate parallel to the existing system, 10 points accumulated within a six-month window will make the vehicle eligible for booting and towing

    For context, last year District ATE Cameras issued more than 57,000 tickets for vehicles travelling 20-30 mph over the speed limit, more than 180,000 tickets for vehicles going 15-20 mph over, and more than one million tickets for cars going 11-15 mph over.


Infractions / Offenses  


Speeding 11-15 miles per hour over the speed limit 

Speeding 16-19 miles per hour over the speed limit 

Speeding 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit 

Reckless Driving 

   Aggravated Reckless Driving 



  • Empowers the Office of the Attorney General to go after both in-state and out-of-state dangerous drivers: The bill authorizes DC’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to bring civil lawsuits against drivers in any state, including DC, with large balances of unpaid moving violations. “This year alone, 45 people have tragically lost their lives in traffic crashes on DC streets. We must redouble our efforts to crack down on dangerous drivers who put pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers at risk,” said DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb ahead of the Committee vote on the legislation last month. “The STEER Act would provide the Office of the Attorney General with critical new authority to hold drivers who flout the law accountable, and I applaud Councilmember Allen for advancing this bill, which would be a major step toward improving traffic safety across the District.” Through the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution, OAG can seek the enforcement of any judgments obtained in any driver’s home state. This means that this innovative new approach will ensure that both DC residents and out-of-state residents alike will be held accountable, despite the lack of reciprocity with neighboring states.
  • Establishes a new Intelligent Speed Assistance Program – capping the ability of a driver to drive over a certain speed – for drivers whose license was suspended or revoked because of excessive speeding (including reckless driving): Modeled after the Ignition Interlock Program, where those who drive under the influence and endanger others are prevented from driving drunk, this program would put “speed governors” on the cars of people who commit serious speeding crimes, preventing them from driving over a certain limit in the future. The first time a driver is required to enroll in the Intelligent Speed Assistance Program, they will have to remain in compliance for one year. The length of enrollment increases by one year for each subsequent conviction, and a fourth conviction can result in a requirement to enroll permanently. Under the Committee’s bill, low-income drivers’ speed governors would be paid for by the District for the first conviction. 
  • Improves DUI enforcement by addressing DMV notification failures around Ignition Interlock enrollment: Currently, enrollment in the Ignition Interlock Program is required after the commission of a DUI-related crime. The bill resolves concerns raised in the press and at the Committee’s oversight hearings by clarifying when MPD must notify the DMV when someone has committed a DUI-related crime, how notice must be provided to the driver about a proposed license suspension, and the timing of and standards governing the hearing about the suspension.  

  • Improves communication between agencies to stop people convicted of DUIs and who should have their licenses suspended from driving without consequences: The bill requires reporting about DUI convictions to and from DMV, OAG, Superior Court, and the DC Council to address unacceptable communication and coordination issues uncovered earlier this year following the Rock Creek Park collision that killed three people. The Committee held a roundtable to examine this issue, learning that there had been a breakdown in communication between the Superior Court and DMV for years, resulting in an unknown number of drivers who had been convicted of DUIs driving without consequences —including the driver in the Rock Creek Parkway collision. 

  • Supports victims by clarifying that driving tickets from stolen vehicles won’t be sent to car owners: The bill requires MPD to notify DMV of a stolen car and clarifies that no ATE violations will be issued against that car until MPD tells DMV that the car has been returned. At Councilmember Henderson’s suggestion, it also adds a similar requirement for stolen tags.  

  • Creates alternatives to fines for accountability and improving driver behavior: The bill requires DMV to create a safe driver curriculum, to allow DMV to waive up to $500 per year of traffic fines. A person is also required to take the class if their car is booted or towed due to paid speeding violations accumulated over six months, before they can retrieve their car or have a boot removed.  

A Note on Dedicating Traffic Camera Revenue to Improving Street Safety

Unrelated to the contents of the STEER Act, a reminder for members of the press: In last year’s budget, the Mayor reversed a Council law stipulating that revenue from ATE cameras be re-invested in Vision Zero projects and enforcement efforts, with the funds redistributed across the entire budget. In the final FY24 budget approved by the Council, that requirement was reinstated and should help fund the most urgent portions of this bill, putting them into legal effect quicker.

From Councilmember Allen: “It’s important to emphasize that our ATE camera program is about safety, not revenue. When revenues go into the General Fund, that sends the wrong message. ATE cameras have a strong track record in lowering speeds in dangerous corridors. We want these cameras deployed in ways that improve safety in dangerous corridors and change driver behavior. Then we want the fines to be invested back into Vision Zero for designing safer streets and funding the District’s accountability efforts.”

The Legislative Process on the STEER Act:

Introduction: July 12, 2023

Public Hearing: November 1, 2023

Committee Approval: December 6, 2023 | Press Release , Committee Report


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