For Immediate Release
September 19, 2022
Contact: Chantal Fuller, Communications Director
Councilmember Christina Henderson Introduces Legislation to Reduce Traffic Violence and Hold Serial Traffic Violators Accountable
Washington, DC — Today, Councilmember Christina Henderson introduced the Automated Traffic Enforcement Effectiveness Amendment Act of 2022. While the District continues to work toward the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities by reducing speed limits and creating improved infrastructure, it is equally important to sharpen the tools at our disposal that address the main issue—drivers who violate traffic safety laws. This legislation will revise the penalties for moving violations.
The District’s traffic safety enforcement regime is unique. Unlike most other jurisdictions in the United States, the District has largely withdrawn from its reliance on police officers to enforce traffic laws. Police generally intervene in situations in which drivers are egregiously violating traffic safety laws and pose a clear and immediate danger to themselves and others. Currently, fines and points on a driving record are assigned for moving violations when the violation is recorded by a police officer. Only fines are assessed for moving violations captured by automated traffic enforcement (“ATE”) systems. This legislation will require assessing one point against the driving record of an individual for each violation detected by an ATE system and one additional point for a moving violation in a school zone. The first moving violation detected by an ATE system in a two-year period will be waived.
To encourage compliance of traffic laws using private market tools, especially for drivers with out-of-state tags, the bill requires the Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles to biannually send a report containing the motor vehicle record of drivers who acquire five moving violation infractions in the District to the drivers’ respective automobile insurance company. Further, this bill updates the DC Code to require the towing or immobilization of a parked vehicle with five or more unpaid moving violations; and to require the towing or immobilization of a parked vehicle displaying counterfeit, stolen, or otherwise fraudulent temporary identification tags.
“This legislation would set the District on the path to be a leader in traffic enforcement systems that do not rely on law enforcement. It creates reasonable accommodations, while structure consequences in the public and private spheres for serial violators. Speeding, running red lights and running stop signs threaten the livability of our neighborhoods and compromises the safety of children, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers,” said Councilmember Henderson. “The District’s reliance on fines as penalties is not and cannot be the only option at our disposal. Traffic violence must end, and we must use and hone all available tools to meet this crisis. I look forward to a spirited debate on this proposal.”
The Automated Traffic Enforcement Effectiveness Amendment Act of 2022 was co-introduced by Councilmembers Brianne K. Nadeau, Elissa Silverman, Brooke Pinto, and Charles Allen.