Code of the District of Columbia

§ 50–1901. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Chemical test” or “chemical testing” means any qualitative or quantitative procedure which is designed to demonstrate the existence or absence of a chemical compound or chemical group. Any handheld and portable breath testing instrument, otherwise known as a roadside breath test, is excluded from this definition.

(2) “Collision” means an impact between the operator’s vehicle, or anything attached to or transported by the vehicle, and anything else, regardless of whether it is a person, a wild or domestic animal, real property, or personal property.

(3) “Commercial vehicle” means a vehicle used to transport passengers or property:

(A) If the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 26,000 pounds or a lesser rating as determined by federal regulation but not less than a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds;

(B) If the vehicle is designed to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver;

(C) If the vehicle is a locomotive or a streetcar;

(D) If the vehicle is used to transport a material found to be hazardous by the Mayor in accordance with Chapter 14 of Title 8 [§ 8-1401 et seq.] or by the Secretary of Transportation in accordance with the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, approved January 3, 1975 (88 Stat. 2156; 49 U.S.C. § 1801 et seq.); or

(E) If the vehicle is a vehicle for hire.

(4) “Court” means the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, except when used in the definition of “prior offense” when it shall also include courts of other jurisdictions.

(5) “Drug” means any chemical substance that affects the processes of the mind or body, including but not limited to a controlled substance as defined in § 48-901.02(4) and any prescription or non-prescription medication.

(6) “Highway” means any street, road, or public thoroughfare, or the entire width between the boundary lines of every publicly or privately maintained way, when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular or pedestrian travel.

(7) “Impaired” means a person’s ability to operate or be in physical control of a vehicle is affected, due to consumption of alcohol or a drug or a combination thereof, in a way that can be perceived or noticed.

(8) “Intoxicated” means:

(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, that:

(i) An alcohol concentration at the time of testing of 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of the person’s blood or per 210 liters of the person’s breath, or of 0.10 grams or more per 100 milliliters of the person’s urine; or

(ii) Any measurable amount of alcohol in the person’s blood, urine, or breath if the person is under 21 years of age.

(B) If operating or in physical control of a commercial vehicle, that:

(i) An alcohol concentration at the time of testing of 0.04 grams or more per 100 milliliters of the person’s blood or per 210 liters of the person’s breath, or of 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of the person’s urine; or

(ii) Any measurable amount of alcohol in the person’s blood, urine, or breath if the person is under 21 years of age.

(9) “Law enforcement officer” means a sworn member of the Metropolitan Police Department or a sworn member of any other police force operating in the District of Columbia.

(10) “License” means any operator’s permit or any other license or permit to operate a motor vehicle issued under the laws of the District, including:

(A) Any temporary or learner’s permit;

(B) The privilege of any person to drive a motor vehicle whether or not such person holds a valid license; and

(C) Any nonresident’s operating privilege.

(11) “Mayor” means the Mayor of the District, or his or her designee.

(12) “Measurable amount” means any amount of alcohol capable of being, but not required to be, measured.

(13) “Medical professional” means a physician, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or any person who by certification or licensure is qualified to draw blood.

(14) “Motor vehicle” means all vehicles propelled by internal combustion engines, electricity, or steam. The term “motor vehicle” shall not include personal mobility devices, as defined by § 50-2201.02(12), or a battery-operated wheelchair when operated by a person with a disability.

(15) “Nonresident” shall include any person who is not a resident of the District.

(16) “Nonresident’s operating privilege” means the privilege conferred upon a nonresident by the laws of the District relating to the operation by such person of a motor vehicle, or the use of a vehicle owned by such person, in the District.

(17) “Prior offense” means any guilty plea or verdict, including a finding of guilty in the case of a juvenile, for an offense under District law or a disposition in another jurisdiction for a substantially similar offense which occurred prior to the current offense regardless of when the arrest occurred. The term “prior offense” does not include an offense where the later of any term of incarceration, supervised release, parole, or probation ceased or expired more than 15 years before the arrest on the current offense.

(18) “Specimen” means that quantity of a person’s blood, breath, or urine necessary to conduct chemical testing to determine alcohol or drug content. A single specimen may be comprised of multiple breaths into a breath test instrument if such is necessary to complete a valid breath test, or a single blood draw or single urine sample regardless of how many times the blood or urine sample is tested.

(19) “Vehicle” means any appliance, conveyance, or carrier that moves over a highway on wheels or traction tread, including street cars, draft animals, and beasts of burden.

(20) “Vehicle for hire” means:

(A) Any motor vehicle operated in the District by a private concern or individual as an ambulance, funeral car, or sightseeing vehicle, or for which the rate is fixed solely by the hour;

(B) Any motor vehicle operated in the District by a private concern used for services including transportation paid for by a hotel, venue, or other third party;

(C) Any motor vehicle used to provide transportation within the District between fixed termini or on a schedule, including vehicles operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority or other public authorities, not including rental cars; or

(D) Any other vehicle that provides transportation for a fee not operated on a schedule or between fixed termini and operating in the District; including taxicabs, limousines, party buses, and pedicabs.


(Oct. 21, 1972, 86 Stat. 1016, Pub. L. 92-519, § 1; Sept. 14, 1982, D.C. Law 4-145, § 4(a), 29 DCR 3138; Mar. 15, 1985, D.C. Law 5-176, § 5, 32 DCR 748; May 5, 1992, D.C. Law 9-96, § 3(a), 38 DCR 7274; Mar. 25, 2003, D.C. Law 14-235, § 9, 49 DCR 9788; Mar. 13, 2004, D.C. Law 15-105, § 90(a), 51 DCR 881; Mar. 6, 2007, D.C. Law 16-224, § 208, 53 DCR 10225; Apr. 27, 2013, D.C. Law 19-266, § 101(c)(1), 59 DCR 12957.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-501.

1973 Ed., § 40-1001.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 5-1419.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-235 rewrote par. (8) which had read as follows: “(8) The term ‘motor vehicle’ means all vehicles propelled by internal-combustion engines, electricity, or steam. The term ‘motor vehicle’ shall not include battery-operated wheelchairs when operated by a handicapped person at speeds not exceeding 10 miles per hour.”

D.C. Law 15-105, in par. (8), validated a previously made technical correction.

D.C. Law 16-224, in par. (8), 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 16-305, in par. (8), purported to substitute “person with a disability” for “handicapped person”.

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-266 rewrote this section.

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 § 9 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 § 9 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 § 208 of Personal Mobility Device Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-528, December 4, 2006, 53 DCR 9826).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 101(c)(1) of Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-429, July 30, 2012, 59 DCR 9387).

For temporary codification of §§ 50-1901 to 50-1904 as subchapter I of this chapter, see § 101(a) of the Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-508, October 26, 2012, 59 DCR 12774).

For temporary codification of §§ 50-1905 to 50-1907 as subchapter II of this chapter, see § 101(b) of the Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-508, October 26, 2012, 59 DCR 12774).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 101(c)(1) of the Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-508, October 26, 2012, 59 DCR 12774).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this chapter, see § 101(a) and (b) of the Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-3, January 29, 2013, 60 DCR 2762, 20 DCSTAT 410).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 101(c)(1) of the Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-3, January 29, 2013, 60 DCR 2762, 20 DCSTAT 410).

For temporary (90 days) designation of §§ 50-1901 to 50-1904 as subchapter I of this chapter, see § 101(a) of the Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-51, April 17, 2013, 60 DCR 6344, 20 DCSTAT 1360).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 101(c)(1) of the Comprehensive Impaired Driving and Alcohol Testing Program Second Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-51, April 17, 2013, 60 DCR 6344, 20 DCSTAT 1360).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 9 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

Section 101(a) of D.C. Law 19-266 designated §§ 50-1901 to 50-1904 as subchapter I of this chapter.

Change in Government

This section originated at a time when local government powers were delegated to the District of Columbia Council and to a Commissioner of the District of Columbia. 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.