News & Politics

Four Ways the New DC Speeding Crackdown Bill Will Impact Drivers

The DC Council just passed a traffic safety bill. Here's what will change if it's signed into law.

Photograph by brunocoelhopt/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Washington has a problem with road safety. Last year in DC, there were 52 traffic fatalities, a rise of more than 40 percent from 2022—and as of February 2, seven people have already lost their lives this year due to motorist mishaps. In response, the DC Council this week unanimously passed the Strengthening Traffic Enforcement, Education, and Responsibility Act of 2024, a speeding crackdown bill that changes traffic enforcement and increases penalties for dangerous drivers.

If Mayor Muriel Bowser and Congress sign off on the legislation, here’s how it will impact DC-area drivers:


A New Points System

Under the existing system, various traffic violations–like failing to give the right-of-way to a pedestrian–cause drivers to accrue points on their license. Generally, 12 or more points results in losing one’s license, while 10 points produces a suspension. Under the new points system, driving 20 miles per hour above the speed limit will go from a four to a five-point violation. Aggravated reckless driving will become a 10 point offense, and the point system will apply to any vehicle, no matter where it’s registered.

The bill also widens the city’s definition of reckless driving to speeding 20 or more miles over the legal limit in a way that “displays a conscious disregard for the risk of bodily injury or property damage.” In addition, if a driver accumulates at least 10 points over a six-month period, receives two or more warrants, or has two or more unpaid infraction notices, their vehicle is eligible for booting and towing


Civil Lawsuits

The STEER Act would grant the DC’s Office of the Attorney General the power to bring civil suits against drivers from anywhere who have large balances of outstanding traffic fines or moving violations. In addition, the bill would empower the DC Office of the Attorney General to file a civil action against a person that is suspected of reckless or aggravated driving.

In addition, the act would open the door for the DC OAG to file a civil action against a vehicle that is being used to commit dangerous driving infractions. Under the bill, the AG can seek attorney’s fees, the booting or impoundment of a vehicle, monetary damages, and the revocation or suspension of a driver’s license. 


Drunk Driving Penalties

For drunk drivers or any drivers under the influence, the bill cements penalties like drivers license and vehicle registration suspension for six months. This also applies if you commit a punishable offense, like impaired driving, in another jurisdiction.

The city’s DMV will be allowed to lift a license or vehicle registration suspension if the driver completes a six-month suspension period and pays a $100 fee. The driver must also enroll in the Ignition Interlock Programa breath alcohol analyzer will be adhered to the ignition system of the vehicle—and the Intelligent Speed Assistance Program, which is described below.


Speed Governors

The new Intelligent Speed Assistance Program would allow for “speed governors”—devices that can prevent drivers from surpassing a specific speed— to be installed for drivers whose license was suspended or revoked for speeding crimes, which also include reckless driving. For impoverished drivers who are first time offenders, the speed governors would be paid for by the city. First-time program enrollees would have to participate for one year. For second-time offenders, the duration would be two years, and third-time convicted offenders would have to be in the program for three years. Quadruple offenders would likely have to enroll in the program permanently.