Code of the District of Columbia

§ 50–1501.01. Definitions.

As used in this subchapter:

(1) The term “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.

(2) The term “person” means an individual, partnership, corporation, or association.

(3) The term “owner” means a person who holds the legal title to a motor vehicle or trailer the registration of which is required in the District of Columbia. If a vehicle is the subject of an agreement for the conditional sale or lease thereof with the right of purchase upon performance of the condition stated in the agreement and with an immediate right of possession vested in the conditional vendee or lessee, or if a mortgagor of a vehicle is entitled to possession, then such conditional vendee or lessee or mortgagor shall be deemed the owner for the purpose of these regulations.

(4) The term “Director” means the Director of the Department of Transportation of the District of Columbia, including assistants or agents duly designated by the Mayor.

(5) The term “dealer” means any person engaged in the business of manufacturing, distributing, or dealing in motor vehicles or trailers.

(6) The term “public highway” means any road, street, alley, or way, open to use of the public, as a matter of right, for purposes of vehicular traffic.

(7) The term “trailer” means a vehicle without motor power intended or used for carrying property or persons and drawn or intended to be drawn by a motor vehicle, whether such vehicle without motor power carries the weight of the property or persons wholly on its own structure or whether a part of such weight rests upon or is carried by a motor vehicle.

(8) The term “farm tractor” means a motor vehicle designed and used primarily for drawing implements of agricultural husbandry.

(9) The term “pneumatic tire” means a tire inflated with compressed air.

(10) The terms “operate” and “operated” shall include operating, moving, standing, or parking any motor vehicle or trailer on a public highway of the District of Columbia.

(10A) The term “class F(I) historic motor vehicle” means any motor vehicle whose manufacturer’s model year is at least 25 years old or any motor vehicle which is at least 15 years old and is a make of motor vehicle no longer manufactured; provided, that the motor vehicle has been or is being restored, preserved, or maintained as an exhibition or collector’s item because of its special historical value or significance, has not been substantially altered or modified from the manufacturer’s original specifications and is used on the public highways for the transportation of passengers or property for occasional pleasure driving or in conjunction with exhibitions, expositions, parades, tours, club activities, or similar activities or events, including transportation directly to or from such activities or events, not exceeding a total driving mileage under all conditions of 1,000 miles annually, but in no event used for general transportation. Motor vehicles which are less than 25 years old but which are 15 or more years old and which qualify as historic motor vehicles shall include the following makes, which are no longer manufactured: Kaiser, Hudson, DeSoto, Nash, Edsel, Studebaker and Packard.

(11) The term “class F(II) historic motor vehicle” means any motor vehicle whose manufacturer’s model year is at least 25 years old or any motor which is at least 15 years old and is a make of motor vehicle no longer manufactured; provided, that the motor vehicle has been or is being restored, preserved or maintained as an exhibition or collector’s item because of its special historical value or significance, has not been substantially altered or modified from the manufacturer’s original specifications and is used on the public highways for the transportation of passengers or property in conjunction with exhibitions, expositions, parades, tours, club activities, or similar activities or events, including transportation directly to or from such activities or events, but in no event used for general transportation. Motor vehicles which are less than 25 years old but which are 15 or more years old and which qualify as historic motor vehicles shall include but not be limited to the following makes which are no longer manufactured: Kaiser, Hudson, DeSoto, Nash, Edsel, Studebaker and Packard.

(12) “Electric vehicle” shall have the same meaning as provided in section 3(4) of the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1976, approved September 17, 1976 (90 Stat. 1261; 15 U.S.C. § 2502(4)).


(Aug. 17, 1937, 50 Stat. 679, ch. 690, title IV, § 1; Sept. 8, 1950, 64 Stat. 791, ch. 921, §§ 1, 2; Feb. 25, 1978, D.C. Law 2-41, § 2, 24 DCR 3629; Mar. 15, 1985, D.C. Law 5-176, § 11, 32 DCR 748; Mar. 26, 1999, D.C. Law 12-184, § 3(a), 45 DCR 7796; Mar. 25, 2003, D.C. Law 14-235, § 7, 49 DCR 9788; Mar. 13, 2004, D.C. Law 15-105, § 90(a), 51 DCR 881; Mar. 6, 2007, D.C. Law 16-224, § 206, 53 DCR 10225; Mar. 20, 2009, D.C. Law 17-315, § 2(a), 56 DCR 203; Mar. 19, 2013, D.C. Law 19-252, § 102(a), 59 DCR 14932; Apr. 27, 2013, D.C. Law 19-290, § 6(a), 60 DCR 2343.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-101.

1973 Ed., § 40-101.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 3-1351, § 50-702, and § 50-1501.03.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-235 rewrote par. (1) which had read as follows: “(1) The term ‘motor vehicle’ means any vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine, electricity, or steam, including any non-operational vehicle that is being restored or repaired. The term ‘motor vehicle’ shall not include road rollers, farm tractors, vehicles propelled only upon stationary 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 par. (1), validated a previously made technical correction.

D.C. Law 16-224, in par. (1), 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 17-315 added par. (10A); and, in par. (11), substituted “class F(II) historic motor vehicle” for “historic motor vehicle”.

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-252 added (12).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-290 rewrote (1).

Cross References

Alternative fuels technology, “motor vehicle” defined, see § 50-702.

Department of Transportation, powers and duties, see § 50-703.

Taxation of personal property, exemption for motor vehicles and trailers, see § 47-1508.

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 § 202(1) of Prohibition on the Reckless Operation of Recreational Motor Vehicles Emergency Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-462, June 23, 2004, 51 DCR 6750).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 7 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 § 7 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 § 206 of Personal Mobility Device Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-528, December 4, 2006, 53 DCR 9826).

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 6101 of Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Support Second Emergency Act of 2009 (D.C. Act 18-207, October 15, 2009, 56 DCR 8234).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 7 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).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of Non-Resident Taxi Drivers Registration Temporary Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Law 17-29, October 18, 2007, law notification 54 DCR 10699).

Editor's Notes

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

Section 301 of D.C. Law 19-252 provided that the Mayor shall issue rules to implement the provisions of the act within 180 days of its effective date [Mar. 19, 2013].