Code of the District of Columbia

§ 50–2201.02. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Alcohol” means a liquid, gas, or solid, containing ethanol from whatever source or by whatever processes produced, whether or not intended for human consumption.

(2) “All-terrain vehicle” or “ATV” means any motor vehicle with not less than 3 low-pressure tires, but not more than 6 low-pressure tires, designed primarily for off-road use and which has a seat or saddle designed to be straddled by the operator. The terms “all-terrain vehicle” and “ATV” shall not include golf carts, riding lawnmowers, or tractors.

(3) “Collision” means an impact between the operator’s vehicle, or anything attached to or transported by the vehicle, and anything else, regardless of whether it is a person, a wild or domestic animal, real property, or personal property.

(4) “Commercial vehicle” means a vehicle used to transport passengers or property:

(A) If the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 26,000 pounds or a lesser rating as determined by federal regulation but not less than a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds;

(B) If the vehicle is designed to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver;

(C) If the vehicle is a locomotive or a streetcar;

(D) If the vehicle is used to transport a material found to be hazardous by the Mayor in accordance with Chapter 14 of Title 8 [§ 8-1401 et seq.], or by the Secretary of Transportation in accordance with the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, approved January 3, 1975 (88 Stat. 2156; 49 U.S.C. § 1801 et seq.); or

(E) If the vehicle is a vehicle for hire.

(5) “Court” means the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, except when used in the definition of “prior offense” when it shall also include courts of other jurisdictions.

(6) “Dirt bike” means any motorcycle designed primarily for off-road use.

(7) “Highway” means any street, road, or public thoroughfare, or the entire width between the boundary lines of every publicly or privately maintained way, when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular or pedestrian travel.

(8) “Identifying information” means the name, complete address, and telephone number of the operator of the vehicle; if the owner of the vehicle is different from the operator of the vehicle, the name, complete address, and telephone number of the owner of the vehicle operated; the tag number of the vehicle operated or, if no tag number, the vehicle identification number; and insurance information for the vehicle operated.

(9) “Law enforcement officer” means a sworn member of the Metropolitan Police Department or a sworn member of any other police force operating in the District of Columbia.

(10) “Mayor” means the Mayor of the District of Columbia or his or her designee.

(11) “Motor vehicle” means all vehicles propelled by internal-combustion engines, electricity, or steam. The term “motor vehicle” shall not include traction engines, road rollers, vehicles propelled only upon rails or tracks, personal mobility devices, as defined in paragraph (13) of this section, or a battery-operated wheelchair when operated by a person with a disability.

(12) “Park” means to leave any motor vehicle standing on a highway, whether or not attended.

(13) “Personal mobility device” or “PMD” means a motorized propulsion device designed to transport one person or a self-balancing, two non-tandem wheeled device, designed to transport only one person with an electric propulsion system, but does not include a battery-operated wheelchair.

(14) “Prior offense” means any guilty plea or verdict, including a finding of guilty in the case of a juvenile, for an offense under District law or a disposition in another jurisdiction for a substantially similar offense which occurred before the current offense regardless of when the arrest occurred. The term “prior offense” does not include an offense where the later of any term of incarceration, supervised release, parole, or probation ceased or expired more than 15 years prior to the arrest on the current offense.

(15) “This chapter” includes all lawful regulations issued thereunder by the Council of the District of Columbia and all lawful rules issued thereunder by the Mayor of the District of Columbia or his designated agent.

(16) “Traffic” includes not only motor vehicles but also all vehicles, pedestrians, and animals, of every description.

(17) “Vehicle” includes any appliance moved over a highway on wheels or traction tread, including street cars, draft animals, and beasts of burden.

(18) “Vehicle conveyance fee” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 50-2301.02(9).

(19) “Vehicle for hire” means:

(A) Any motor vehicle operated in the District by a private concern or individual as an ambulance, funeral car, sightseeing vehicle, or for which the rate is fixed solely by the hour;

(B) Any motor vehicle operated in the District by a private concern used for services including transportation paid for by a hotel, venue, or other third party;

(C) Any motor vehicle used to provide transportation within the District between fixed termini or on a schedule, including vehicles operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority or other public authorities, not including rental cars; or

(D) Any other vehicle that provides transportation for a fee not operated on a schedule or between fixed termini and operating in the District, including taxicabs, limousines, party buses, and pedicabs.

(20) “Work zone” means the area of a highway or roadway that is affected by construction, maintenance, or utility work activities, including the area delineated by and within all traffic control devices erected or installed to guide vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic.


(Mar. 3, 1925, 43 Stat. 1119, ch. 443, § 2; July 3, 1926, 44 Stat. 812, ch. 739, § 1; Feb. 27, 1931, 46 Stat. 1424, ch. 317, § 1; Apr. 1, 1942, 56 Stat. 190, ch. 207, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 570, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 155(a); Apr. 26, 1977, D.C. Law 1-133, title II, § 201(a), 23 DCR 9697; Nov. 15, 1983, D.C. Law 5-42, § 2(a), 30 DCR 4999; Mar. 15, 1985, D.C. Law 5-176, § 12(a), 32 DCR 748; May 5, 1992, D.C. Law 9-96, § 4(a), 38 DCR 7274; Apr. 27, 2001, D.C. Law 13-289, § 401(a), 48 DCR 2057; Mar. 25, 2003, D.C. Law 14-235, § 10(a), 49 DCR 9788; Mar. 13, 2004, D.C. Law 15-105, §§ 90(c), 94 - 97, 51 DCR 881; Apr. 5, 2005, D.C. Law 15-289, § 2(a), 52 DCR 1446; Mar. 6, 2007, D.C. Law 16-224, § 101(a), 53 DCR 10225; Jan. 23, 2008, D.C. Law 17-67, § 2(a), 54 DCR 11646; Mar. 20, 2009, D.C. Law 17-303,§ 3(a), 55 DCR 12803; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-171, § 140, 59 DCR 6190; Apr. 27, 2013, D.C. Law 19-266, § 102(a), 59 DCR 12957.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-702.

1973 Ed., § 40-602.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 5-114.01, § 31-2402, § 50-601, § 50-1108, § 50-1201, § 50-1301.02, § 50-1331.01, § 50-1401.01, § 50-1501.01, § 50-1505.01, § 50-1901, § 50-2301.02, and § 50-2602.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-289 added the definition for the term mini-van.

D.C. Law 14-235 rewrote par. (1) and added par. (12). Par. (1) had read as follows: “(1) The term ‘motor vehicle’ means all vehicles propelled by internal-combustion engines, electricity, or steam. The term ‘motor vehicle’ shall not include traction engines, road rollers, vehicles propelled only upon rails or tracks, and battery-operated wheelchairs when operated by a handicapped person at speeds not exceeding 10 miles per hour.”

D.C. Law 15-105 validated previously made technical corrections; repealed par. (3); and in par. (10), substituted “The term ‘traffic’ shall” for “Traffic shall”. Prior to amendment, par. (3) had read as follows: “(3) The term ‘District’ means the District of Columbia.”

D.C. Law 15-289 added pars. (13) and (14).

D.C. Law 16-224 revived the provisions of D.C. Law 14-235 that expired on October 1, 2005, and rewrote pars. (1) and (12).

D.C. Law 16-305, in par. (1), purported to substitute “person with a disability” for “handicapped person”.

D.C. Law 17-67 added par. (15).

D.C. Law 17-303 added par. (16).

The 2012 amendment by D.C. Law 19-171 substituted “The term ‘vehicle conveyance fee’ shall” for “ ‘Vehicle conveyance fee’ shall” in (16).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-266 rewrote this section.

Expiration of Law

Expiration of Law 14-235

Section 14 of D.C. Law 14-235 provided that the act shall expire on October 1, 2005.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of the Motor Coach Vehicles Tax Exemption Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-182, November 22, 1999, 47 DCR 1).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 10(a) of Motor Vehicle Definition Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device Exemption Emergency Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-237, December 22, 2005, 53 DCR 249).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 10(a) of Motor Vehicle Definition Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device Exemption Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-323, March 23, 2006, 53 DCR 2567).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 101(a) of Personal Mobility Device Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-528, December 4, 2006, 53 DCR 9826).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Doubled Fines in Construction and Work Zones Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-149, October 18, 2007, 54 DCR 10894).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Doubled Fines in Construction and Work Zones Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2008 (D.C. Act 17-252, January 23, 2008, 55 DCR 1264).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 102(a) of Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-429, July 30, 2012, 59 DCR 9387).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 102(a) of the Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-508, October 26, 2012, 59 DCR 12774).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 102(a) of the Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-3, January 29, 2013, 60 DCR 2762, 20 DCSTAT 410).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 102(a) of the Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Second Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-51, April 17, 2013, 60 DCR 6344, 20 DCSTAT 1360).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 10(a) of Motor Vehicle Definition Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Device Exemption Temporary Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Law 16-85, April 4, 2006, law notification 53 DCR 3344).

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to a Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia (see Acts Relating to the Establishment of the District of Columbia and its Various Forms of Governmental Organization in Volume 1). Section 402 (292, 293, 295 to 299) of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1967 (see Reorganization Plans in Volume 1) transferred all of the functions of the Board of Commissioners under this section to the District of Columbia Council, subject to the right of the Commissioner as provided in § 406 of the Plan. The District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act, 87 Stat. 818, § 711 ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.11), abolished the District of Columbia Council and the Office of Commissioner of the District of Columbia. These branches of government were replaced by the Council of the District of Columbia and the Office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, respectively. Accordingly, and also pursuant to § 714(a) of such Act ( D.C. Code, § 1-207.14(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.