Code of the District of Columbia

§ 50–2206.56. Impounding of vehicle; release of vehicle; liability.

(a)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, when a law enforcement officer arrests a person for a violation of § 50-2206.11, § 50-2206.12, or § 50-2206.14, the law enforcement officer shall cause the motor vehicle which the arrested person operated or controlled to be impounded.

(2) The law enforcement officer shall not cause the vehicle to be impounded if:

(A) A registered owner of the vehicle authorizes the law enforcement officer to release the vehicle to a person:

(i) Who is in the company of the arrested person;

(ii) Who has in his or her immediate possession a valid permit to operate a motor vehicle; and

(iii) Whom the law enforcement officer determines to be in physical condition to operate the vehicle without violating § 50-2206.11, § 50-2206.12, or § 50-2206.14;

(B) A registered owner of the vehicle:

(i) Is present to take custody of the vehicle;

(ii) Has in his or her immediate possession a valid permit to operate a motor vehicle; and

(iii) Is determined by the law enforcement officer to be in physical condition to operate the vehicle without violating § 50-2206.11, § 50-2206.12, or § 50-2206.14; or

(C) The arrested person authorizes the law enforcement officer to release the vehicle to a person:

(i) Who is not in the company of the arrested person;

(ii) Who has in his or her immediate possession a valid permit to operate a motor vehicle;

(iii) Whom the law enforcement officer determines to be in physical condition to operate the vehicle without violating § 50-2206.11, § 50-2206.12, or § 50-2206.14; and

(iv) Who shall take possession of the vehicle within a reasonable period of time from a public parking space to be determined by the arresting law enforcement officer.

(b)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection or in subsection (c) of this section, an impounded vehicle shall be released:

(A) At any time to a registered owner of the vehicle, other than the arrested person; or

(B) 24 hours after the arrest, to the arrested person.

(2) No vehicle shall be released to a person unless a law enforcement officer determines that the person is in physical condition to operate a motor vehicle without violating § 50-2206.11, § 50-2206.12, or § 50-2206.14.

(3) If the law enforcement officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is not in the physical condition required by paragraph (2) of this subsection, the law enforcement officer may direct that the person submit specimens for chemical testing to determine whether the person is impaired. The results of the tests may not be used as evidence in any criminal proceeding. If the person refuses to submit specimens for chemical tests, the law enforcement officer may determine that the person does not meet the condition of paragraph (2) of this subsection.

(c) Any motor vehicle that is impounded shall be subject to an impoundment charge of $50, which shall be paid before the release of the motor vehicle. Any motor vehicle that remains impounded and unclaimed for more than 72 hours shall be processed and handled as an abandoned vehicle, and shall be subject to any other charges and costs, including storage fees and relocation costs, as provided and assessed by the Mayor.

(d)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2)(B) of this subsection, the District of Columbia and its employees may not be liable for damage to property which results from any act or omission in the implementation of any provisions of this section.

(2)(A) The District of Columbia and its employees may be liable for injury to persons which results from any act or omission in the implementation of any provisions of this section.

(B) An employee of the District of Columbia may be liable for injury to persons or damage to property which results from the gross negligence of the employee. The District of Columbia may also be liable for the resulting injury to persons or damage to property if the act or omission of the employee which constitutes gross negligence occurred while the employee was engaged in furthering the governmental interest of the District of Columbia.


(Sept. 14, 1982, D.C. Law 4-145, § 3u; as added Apr. 27, 2013, D.C. Law 19-266, § 103(e)(3), 59 DCR 12957.)

Effect of Amendments

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

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 103(e)(3) 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) addition of this section, see § 103(e)(3) 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).