Jan 17, 2024 - News

D.C. passes new traffic penalties in reckless driving crackdown

A speed camera posted on a pole

Photo: Michael Blackshire/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Speeding drivers caught on District cameras will be subject to new points penalties — part of the D.C. Council's recent crackdown on dangerous driving.

Why it matters: New penalties up the stakes on D.C.'s growing camera enforcement program and also allow the attorney general to go after dangerous drivers, even if they live outside the city.

State of play: The new law, passed unanimously last week and expected to take effect later this year, comes after a 16-year high in traffic deaths. Changes include:

  • Speed camera tickets will levy points on a vehicle, depending on the miles per hour over the limit. More than 10 points within six months may result in the vehicle getting booted or towed.
  • The D.C. attorney general will have the authority to bring civil lawsuits against even out-of-state drivers if they commit multiple dangerous driving violations. (Much of D.C.'s unpaid traffic tickets belong to Virginia and Maryland drivers.)
  • A person convicted of DUI for a third time in five years would have their license suspended.

ğŸ”Ž Between the lines: The law, authored by council member Charles Allen, also requires people with suspended or revoked licenses to take a new DMV safe driving course to get behind the wheel.

  • Drivers can have up to $500 in fines waived annually for participating in the course.

Zoom out: D.C. is adding dozens of new traffic cameras, with over 100 more on the horizon.

What we're watching: It's unclear how much of the law will be implemented. The measures would cost D.C. $123.3 million to implement over four years, according to Mayor Muriel Bowser, who wrote last week that "it is not clear that the Council has identified ways to fund the legislation."

  • Bowser said lawmakers should develop a more "cost-effective approach."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that under the new law, speed camera tickets will levy points on a vehicle (not a license).

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