District of Columbia

Highway safety laws differ from state to state. The summary information here can be used to compare laws in specific categories. We monitor legislative changes and update this information as needed.

RESTRICTIONS ON CELLPHONE USE AND TEXTING
Hand-held ban all drivers
Young drivers all cellphone ban learner's permit holders
Texting ban all drivers
Enforcement primary
MAXIMUM POSTED SPEED LIMITS
Rural interstates (mph) n/a
Urban interstates (mph) 55
Other limited access roads (mph) n/a
Other roads (mph) 25
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
To get a learners license you must:
Have a minimum age of 161
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
Before getting a license or restricted license you must:
Have a mandatory holding period of 6 months
Have a minimum supervised driving time of 40 hours in learner’s stage; 10 hours at night in intermediate stage
Have a minimum age of 16, 6 months2
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
Restrictions during intermediate or restricted license stage:
Nighttime restrictions September–June: 11 p.m.-6 a.m. Sun.–Thur., 12:01 a.m.-6 a.m. Sat.–Sun.; July–August: 12:01 a.m.-6 a.m.; duration: entire provisional license stage3
Passenger restrictions

(family members excepted unless otherwise noted)
no passengers; duration: first 6 months; thereafter, no more than 2 passengers; duration: entire provisional license stage3
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
Minimum age at which restrictions may be lifted:
Nighttime restrictions 18
Passenger restrictions 18
REGULAR LICENSING RENEWAL CYCLE
Length of regular renewal cycle 8 years
OLDER DRIVER SPECIAL LICENSING PROVISIONS
Accelerated renewal none
Other provisions at age 70, or nearest renewal date thereafter, a vision test is required and a reaction test may be required; applicant must provide a statement from a practicing physician certifying the applicant to be physically and mentally competent to drive4
CHILD RESTRAINTS
Must be in child restraint 7 years and younger
Adult safety belt permissible 8 through 15 years
Maximum fine 1st offense $755
Seating preference law states no preference for rear seat
Children not covered all children covered
SAFETY BELT USE
Initial effective date 12/12/85
Standard enforcement? yes; effective 10/01/97
Who is covered? In what seats? 16+ years in all seats
Maximum fine 1st offense $505
Can nonuse decrease monetary awards for injuries in lawsuits? no
MOTORCYCLE HELMET USE
Motorcyclists covered all riders
BICYCLE HELMET USE
Covered by state law 15 and younger
PICKUP TRUCKS: RESTRICTIONS ON RIDING IN CARGO AREAS
Restrictions on riding in cargo areas yes6
Gaps in coverage employees on duty; people riding within truck bodies in a space intended for materials
LOW-SPEED VEHICLES
On which roads are low-speed vehicles permitted? roads on which a low speed vehicle would not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic
What is the top speed permissible for low-speed vehicles? 25 mph
MINITRUCKS
Initial effective date no law
AUTOMATED ENFORCEMENT: RED LIGHT CAMERAS
Statewide or only specified locations? District of Columbia
Violations red light
Citations issued to whom? registered owner
Who is liable? owner
What image is taken? not addressed
Traditional enforcement penalty $150 fine/2 points
Auto enforcement penalties/record $150; no points
AUTOMATED ENFORCEMENT: SPEED CAMERAS
Statewide or only specified locations? District of Columbia
Violations speed
Citations issued to whom? registered owner
Who is liable? owner
What image is taken? not addressed
Traditional enforcement penalty $50-$300 fine/3, 4 or 5 points based on the number of miles per hour over the posted speed limit
Auto enforcement penalties/record fine (no points) based on the number of miles per hour over the posted speed limit; 1-10 mph: $50; 11-15 mph: $92; 16-20 mph: $100; 21-25 mph: $150; 26 mph or more: $300

1In the District of Columbia, the learner's stage is mandatory for all license applicants, regardless of age. A nighttime restriction (9 p.m.-6 a.m.) applies in the learner stage.

2In the District of Columbia, license applicants younger than 21 must go through the intermediate stage until they have completed it or until they turn 21.

3Provisional license holders who are younger than 21 are required to adhere to the night and passenger restriction for the duration of the stage, six-month minimum. Drivers younger than 18 who hold a full license with conditions must also adhere to the night and passenger restrictions.

4The District of Columbia specifically states that an applicant shall not be required to retake the written or road test based solely on advanced age.

5This state assesses points for violations.

6This provision is designed to prohibit riding on hoods, fenders, and other places not designed for passengers. The exemption for people in the body of a truck applies to enclosed areas like the cargo area of a straight truck or van.