Updates

October 5, 2023 | Update

Four Traffic Safety Bills Aimed at Accountability


The two committees took up four pieces of legislation that would hold drivers accountable in ways that D.C.'s current code has not allowed. The goal is to curb dangerous driving.


Accountability was the word of the day at a joint hearing of the Public Works and Operations Committee, chaired by Councilmember Nadeau, and the Transportation and Environment Committee, chaired by Councilmember Allen.

The two committees took up four pieces of legislation that would hold drivers accountable in ways that D.C.'s current code has not allowed. The goal is to curb dangerous driving.

"Enforcement should no just be about who can pay," the Councilmember said. "It needs to establish a clear connection between dangerous activity and consequences that prevent that activity from happening again. In the realm of driving, that means two things: the suspension of a license or impoundment of a vehicle."

The four bills heard by the commitees would: require immediate license suspensions for offenses such as impaired driving and negligent homicide (Councilmember Henderson); adding license points to moving violations captured by automated traffic enforcement cameras (Councilmember Henderson); target enforcement toward vehicles and drivers that have proven to be consistently putting others in danger, whether fines have been paid or not (Councilmember Allen); and go more aggressively after drivers who use fake tags (license plates), which allow them to evade enforcement altogether (Councilmember Nadeau).

"There should be a very direct line between reckless driving and one or both of those consequences," Councilmember Nadeau said at the hearing. "Right now that line of accountability bends and twists all over the place, if it exists at all. As Councilmember Allen’s legislation calls attention to, we haven’t even clearly decided what reckless driving is supposed to mean."

More than 50 residents testified at the hearing. Government witnesses will testify at a second hearing on the bills in the coming weeks.