Code of the District of Columbia

§ 50–1201. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Person” shall include one or more individuals, firms or unincorporated associations, or corporations.

(2) “Director” shall mean the Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles, including assistants or agents duly designated by the Mayor of the District of Columbia.

(3) “Recorder” shall mean an agent responsible for recording liens, appointed by the Director.

(4) “Certificate” shall mean a certificate of title for a motor vehicle or trailer issued by the Director.

(5) “Owner” shall mean the person to whom such certificate is issued by the Director.

(6) “Lien” shall mean any right or interest in or to, any security interest as defined in § 28:1-201 of the District of Columbia Official Code in, or lien or encumbrance upon any motor vehicle or trailer, or the equipment or accessories affixed or sold to be affixed thereto, in favor of a person other than the owner, except:

(A) A sale of such motor vehicle or trailer accompanied by delivery of possession and on execution of the assignment on the back of the certificate covering it; or

(B) Any possessory lien now or hereafter provided by law or any lien acquired in any judicial proceeding.

(7) “Instrument” shall mean any security agreement, as defined in § 28:9-105(l) [see now § 28:9-102(a)(47)] of the District of Columbia Official Code, creating such lien.

(8) “Lien information” shall mean the amount, kind, date of lien, name and address of holder or secured party as defined in § 28:9-105(m) [see now § 28:9-102(a)(72)] of the District of Columbia Official Code, and Recorder’s record number, if any.

(9) “Motor vehicle” means a vehicle propelled by an internal-combustion engine, electricity, or steam. The term “motor vehicle” shall not include a traction engine, road roller, vehicle propelled only upon rails or tracks, personal assistive mobility device, as defined by § 50-2201.02(12), a battery-operated wheelchair when operated by a person with a disability, or a motorized bicycle.


(July 2, 1940, 54 Stat. 736, ch. 527, § 1; Dec. 30, 1963, 77 Stat. 771, Pub. L. 88-243, § 6(a); Mar. 15, 1985, D.C. Law 5-176, § 9, 32 DCR 748; Mar. 25, 2003, D.C. Law 14-235, § 5, 49 DCR 9788; Mar. 13, 2004, D.C. Law 15-105, § 90(a), 51 DCR 881; Mar. 6, 2007, D.C. Law 16-224, § 204, 53 DCR 10225; Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-279, § 201(a), 54 DCR 903; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 149, 56 DCR 1117; Apr. 27, 2013, D.C. Law 19-290, § 4, 60 DCR 2343.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-1001.

1973 Ed., § 40-701.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 28:9-311.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-235 rewrote subsec. (i) (redesignated as par. (9)) which had read as follows: “(i) ‘Motor vehicle’ shall mean 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, in subsec. (i) (redesignated as par. (9)), validated a previously made technical correction.

D.C. Law 16-224, in subsec. (i) (redesignated as par. (9)), revived the provisions of D.C. Law 14-235 that expired on October 1, 2005, and substituted “personal mobility devices, as defined by § 50-2201.02(12), or a battery-operated wheelchair when operated by a person with a disability” for “electric personal assistive mobility devices, as defined by § 50-2201.02(12), and battery-operated wheelchairs when operated by a handicapped person at speeds not exceeding 10 miles per hour”.

D.C. Law 16-279, in par. (2), substituted “the Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles” for “the Director of Vehicles and Traffic of the District of Columbia”; and rewrote par. (3), which formerly read:

“(c) ‘Recorder’ shall mean the Recorder of Deeds of the District of Columbia, including assistants or agents duly designated by the Recorder.”

D.C. Law 16-305, in par. (9), purported to substitute “person with a disability” for “handicapped person”.

D.C. Law 17-353 validated a previously made technical correction in par. (6).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-290 rewrote (9).

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 § 5 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 § 5 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 § 204 of Personal Mobility Device Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-528, December 4, 2006, 53 DCR 9826).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 5 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).

Editor's Notes

Department of Vehicles and Traffic abolished: See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 50-2201.03.

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 401 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 a single Commissioner. 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.