Code of the District of Columbia

§ 50–1501.04. Unlawful acts; penalty.

(a) It shall be unlawful:

(1) For any person to operate any motor vehicle or trailer upon any public highway of the District of Columbia (except motor vehicles or trailers operated by nonresidents exempted under the provisions of § 50-1401.02):

(A) If such motor vehicle or trailer is not registered or covered by a dealer’s registration or by a special use certificate as required by this subchapter;

(B) If such motor vehicle or trailer does not have attached thereto and displayed thereon the identification tags required therefor; or

(C) If such person does not have in his possession or in the motor vehicle or trailer operated the registration certificate or special use certificate required therefor.

(D) Repealed.

(2) For the owner of any motor vehicle or trailer knowingly to permit the operation thereof contrary to any provision of paragraph (1) of this subsection;

(3) To use a false or fictitious name or address in any application for registration or for a special use certificate, or any renewal or duplicate thereof, or knowingly to make any false statement or conceal any material fact in any such application; or

(4) For the owner of any motor vehicle to knowingly use or permit the use of any motor vehicle with a counterfeit, stolen, or otherwise fraudulent temporary identification tag.

(b)(1) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, any person violating any provision of this subchapter or the regulations made or promulgated under the authority hereof shall upon conviction thereof be subject to a fine of not more than $1000 or imprisonment of not more than 30 days, or both such fine and imprisonment. All such prosecutions shall be in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia upon information filed by the Attorney General for the District of Columbia or any of his assistants in the name of the District of Columbia.

(2) A motor vehicle being used in violation of subsection (a)(4) of this section shall be subject to forfeiture pursuant to the standards and procedures set forth in D.C. Law 20-278. Such forfeiture may be in addition to the imposition of a fine or imprisonment as provided for in paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(3) The fine set forth in this section shall not be limited by § 22-3571.01.

(c)(1) A person violating subsection (a)(1) or (2) of this section shall be assessed the following civil penalties for a failure to maintain a valid and current registration:

(A) A fine of $200 for a lapse in registration between one and 30 days; and

(B) A fine of $200 for each additional unregistered month or portion thereof, up to a maximum of $2,400.

(2) Violations under this subsection shall be adjudicated pursuant to Chapter 23 of this title [§ 50-2301.01 et seq.].

(d) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as impeding the ability of a public safety officer to impound a vehicle that poses a threat to public health or safety.


(Aug. 17, 1937, 50 Stat. 682, ch. 690, title IV, § 4; Apr. 1, 1942, 56 Stat. 190, ch. 207, § 1; Sept. 8, 1950, 64 Stat. 794, ch. 921, § 7; July 8, 1963, 77 Stat. 77, Pub. L. 88-60, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 570, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 155(a); Apr. 5, 2005, D.C. Law 15-287, § 2(b), 52 DCR 1437; Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-279, § 403(c), 54 DCR 903; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, §§ 197(b), 198, 56 DCR 1117; Oct. 22, 2012, D.C. Law 19-183, § 2, 59 DCR 9429; June 11, 2013, D.C. Law 19-317, § 112(g), 60 DCR 2064; June 16, 2015, D.C. Law 20-278, § 307, 62 DCR 1920.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-105.

1973 Ed., § 40-104.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-801 and § 50-2302.02.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 15-287, in subsec. (b), designated the existing text as par. (1), substituted “$1000” for “$300”, and added par. (2).

D.C. Law 16-279 added subsec. (a)(1)(D).

D.C. Law 17-353 validated previously made technical corrections in subsec. (a)(1)(D), (3).

The 2012 amendment by D.C. Law 19-183 added “or” at the end of (a)(1)(B); substituted a period for the semicolon and “or” at the end of (a)(1)(C); repealed (a)(1)(D); in (b)(1), substituted “Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, any person violating” for “Any person violating” and “Attorney General for the District of Columbia” for “Corporation Counsel of the District of Columbia”; and added (c) and (d).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-317 added (b)(3).

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-278 rewrote (b)(2).

Cross References

Taxation of personal property, exemption for motor vehicles and trailers, see § 47-1508.

Traffic adjudication, violations prosecuted as criminal offenses, see § 50-2302.02.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b) of Use of Fraudulent Temporary Identification Tags and Automobile Forfeiture Emergency Amendment Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-424, May 10, 2004, 51 DCR 5185).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b) of Use of Fraudulent Temporary Identification Tags and Automobile Forfeiture Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-518, August 2, 2004, 51 DCR 8992).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Criminal Penalty for Unregistered Motorist Repeal Emergency Amendment Act of 2011 (D.C. Act 19-208, October 21, 2011, 58 DCR 9332).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Criminal Penalty for Unregistered Motorist Repeal Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-296, January 20, 2012, 59 DCR 491).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of the Criminal Penalty for Unregistered Motorist Repeal Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-404, July 24, 2012, 59 DCR 9120).

For temporary amendment of (b)(1) and temporary addition of (c), see § 2 of the Criminal Penalty for Unregistered Motorist Repeal Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-404, July 24, 2012, 59 DCR 9120).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 112(g) of the Criminal Fine Proportionality Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-45, April 1, 2013, 60 DCR 5400, 20 DCSTAT 1300).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 2(b) of Use of Fraudulent Temporary Identification Tags and Automobile Forfeiture Temporary Amendment Act of 2004 (D.C. Law 15-182, October 18, 2007, law notification 54 DCR 10699).

Section 2 of D.C. Law 19-76, in subsec. (b)(1), substituted “Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, any person violating” for “Any person violating”, and substituted “Attorney General for the District of Columbia” for “Corporation Counsel of the District of Columbia”; and added subsec. (c) to read as follows:

“(c) Any person in violation of subsection (a)(1) or (2) of this section shall not be subject to arrest or criminal penalties, but shall be subject to civil penalties as follows:

“(1) Any violation that occurs up to 30 days from when the vehicle is unregistered shall result in a $100 fine;

“(2) Any violation that occurs after 30 days from when the vehicle is unregistered may result in impoundment of the vehicle and a $200 fine.

“(3) The provisions of this subsection shall be adjudicated pursuant to the District of Columbia Traffic Adjudication Act of 1978, effective September 12, 1978 (D.C. Law 2-104; D.C. Official Code § 50-2301.01 et seq.).”.

Section 4(b) of D.C. Law 19-76 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Editor's Notes

Section 3 of D.C. Law 15-287 provided: “The Mayor is authorized to promulgate such rules and regulations as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this act.”

Applicability of D.C. Law 19-317: Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-317 provided that the act shall apply only to offenses committed on or after June 11, 2013.

D.C. Law 20-278, referred to in (d), enacted Chapter 3 of Title 41 (§ 41-301 et seq.), made amendments to the criminal offenses in §§ 48-901.02 and 48-905.02, and made conforming amendments to §§ 7-2507.06a, 8-905, 22-902, 22-1705, 22-2723, 32-1343, 48-905.03, and 50-1501.04.