Code of the District of Columbia

§ 50–331. Impoundment of a taxicab and passenger vehicle for hire.

(a) Any taxicab or passenger vehicle for hire being operated in the District of Columbia may be booted, towed, and impounded from any public street or public space in the District of Columbia by any member of the Metropolitan Police Department or law enforcement personnel, or any authorized agent if:

(1) The vehicle is being operated without a valid license issued pursuant to § 50-319 or § 47-2829(c) [(c) repealed], (d), or (h);

(2) The vehicle is being operated by a person who does not have a valid vehicle operator’s license issued pursuant to § 47-2829(e) or (i) or a valid motor vehicle operator’s permit;

(3) The vehicle is being operated by a person who has 2 or more unpaid notices of infractions issued pursuant to 31 DCMR 825 or the vehicle has 2 or more unpaid notices of infractions issued pursuant to Title 18 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations or 31 DCMR 825, or the accumulated unpaid infractions equal or exceed $400, for which liability has been imposed;

(4) The vehicle is not licensed in the District of Columbia and is observed providing intra-District transportation service;

(5) The vehicle does not comply with Chapter 24 of Title 31; or

(6) The vehicle does not comply with District of Columbia inspection standards prescribed by section 603, Chapter 7 of Title 18 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, or 31 DCMR 608.

(a-1) For the purposes of this section, a notice of infraction is considered unpaid if the infraction has been deemed to have been admitted or sustained after a hearing, pursuant to §§ 50-2303.05 and 50-2303.06, § 50-2209.02, or subsection 323.3 of Title 31 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.

(b) Any vehicle impounded pursuant to subsection (a) of this section may be towed by a tow crane operator to the Department of For-Hire Vehicles or any other secured place designated by the Department of Public Works.

(c) Any vehicle impounded pursuant to subsection (a)(1), (2), or (5) of this section shall have the license removed, the vehicle operator’s license suspended, or both, as applicable, pending a hearing pursuant to subsection (e) of this section to determine the propriety of reissuance or return of the license.

(d) Within 3 business days of impoundment, the Director of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles shall mail a notice, by first-class mail, certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the owner and the operator of the impounded vehicle as identified in the records of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles. The notice shall contain the following information:

(1) The nature and circumstances under which the vehicle was impounded;

(2) The place where and time when the vehicle can be reclaimed;

(3) A statement that the owner or operator has a right to a hearing pursuant to subsection (e) of this section and the Department of For-Hire Vehicles’s rules and regulations; and

(4) A statement that if the owner of the impounded vehicle does not, within 15 calendar days of impoundment, seek the release of the vehicle, the vehicle shall be deemed abandoned. Once the vehicle has been deemed abandoned, the owner may reclaim it or it will be sold pursuant to § 50-2402.

(e) The owner or operator of a vehicle impounded pursuant to subsection (a)(1) through (5) of this section may request a hearing, in writing. The hearing shall occur within 3 business days of the receipt by the Mayor of a written hearing request. The hearing examiner shall determine:

(1) Whether the vehicle was being operated without a valid license issued pursuant to § 50-319 and § 47-2829(c) [(c) repealed], (d), or (h) and whether the vehicle had a prior violation for the same charge;

(2) Whether the vehicle operator was operating the vehicle without a valid license issued pursuant to § 47-2829(e) or (i) and whether the vehicle operator had a prior violation for the same charge;

(3) Whether, according to the Department of For-Hire Vehicles’s records, the vehicle operator has 2 or more unpaid notices of infractions issued pursuant to 31 DCMR 825 or the vehicle has 2 or more unpaid notices of infractions issued pursuant to Title 18 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations or 31 DCMR 825 or the accumulated unpaid infractions equal or exceed $400 for which liability has been imposed;

(4) Whether the vehicle complies with Chapter 24 of Title 31; and

(5) Whether the vehicle is licensed in the District of Columbia and was observed providing intra-District transportation service.

(f) If a determination is made, pursuant to subsection (e) of this section that, at the time of the impoundment, the vehicle was being operated without a valid license issued pursuant to § 50-319 or § 47-2829(c) [(c) repealed], (d), or (h), the hearing examiner shall:

(1) Fine the vehicle owner according to the Department of For-Hire Vehicles’s rules and regulations; or

(2) If there has been a prior determination that the vehicle had operated without a valid license, fine, not reissue or return the license, and bar the vehicle owner from applying for or obtaining a license for a period of 3 years.

(g) The license of a vehicle owner who receives a favorable determination under subsection (f) of this section shall be reissued or returned.

(h) If a determination is made, pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, that the vehicle was being operated, at the time of the impoundment, without a valid vehicle operator’s license issued pursuant to § 47-2829(e) or (i), the hearing examiner shall:

(1) Fine the vehicle operator according to the Department of For-Hire Vehicles’s rules and regulations; or

(2) If there has been a prior determination that the vehicle operator had operated the vehicle without a valid license, fine, not reissue or return the vehicle operator’s license, and bar the vehicle operator from applying for or obtaining a vehicle operator’s license for a period of 3 years.

(i) Upon a favorable determination from the hearing examiner under subsection (h) of this section the vehicle operator’s license shall be reissued or returned.

(j) If the hearing examiner determines, pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, that the vehicle operator has 2 or more unpaid notices of infractions issued pursuant to 31 DCMR 825 or the vehicle has 2 or more unpaid notices of infractions issued pursuant to Title 18 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations or 31 DCMR 825 or the accumulated unpaid infractions equal or exceed $400 for which liability has been imposed, the vehicle owner or operator, as applicable, shall be ordered to pay the outstanding fines.

(k) If the hearing examiner determines, pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, that the vehicle does not comply with Chapter 24 of Title 31, the hearing examiner shall impose an appropriate penalty upon the vehicle owner or operator pursuant to Chapter 24 of Title 31 and Title 31 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.

(l) If the hearing examiner determines, pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, that the vehicle is not licensed in the District of Columbia and is observed providing intra-District transportation service, the vehicle and operator shall be considered unlicensed and the vehicle owner or operator as applicable, shall be ordered to pay the infractions issued pursuant to § 50-319 and 31 DCMR 824.3.

(m) Upon completion of the hearing, the hearing examiner shall issue a written decision containing findings of fact and conclusions of law. If a favorable determination is issued for the vehicle owner or operator, as applicable, the hearing examiner shall issue a release form for the impounded vehicle.

(n) Any party adversely affected by a written decision of a hearing examiner may file written exceptions to the Panel on Adjudication pursuant to the Department of For-Hire Vehicles’s rules and regulations. The vehicle owner or operator shall first pay the subject fine and all other outstanding fines in order to file for written exceptions.

(o) In lieu of requesting a hearing, the vehicle owner or operator may satisfy all outstanding notices of infraction.

(p) Upon full satisfaction of all outstanding notices of infraction the Department of For-Hire Vehicles shall issue a release form for the impounded vehicle.

(q) The owner of an impounded vehicle or other authorized person shall be permitted to secure the release of the vehicle from impoundment upon:

(1) Proof of ownership or other right of possession;

(2) Payment of a towing fee to be determined by the Mayor, plus any storage fee. Payment of a towing fee and any storage fee shall be waived upon favorable determination for the vehicle owner or operator by the hearing examiner; and

(3) Presentation of a release form issued by a hearing examiner.

(r) If within 15 calendar days of impoundment the vehicle has not been reclaimed, the vehicle shall be deemed abandoned and shall be released to the Department of Public Works to be processed as an abandoned vehicle pursuant to § 50-2402.

(s) The Metropolitan Police Department or law enforcement personnel, or any authorized agent acting pursuant to subsection (a)(6) of this section may:

(1) Direct the operator of the vehicle to immediately remove the vehicle to an official District of Columbia inspection station for inspection or reinspection notwithstanding the fact that the vehicle displays an approval inspection sticker pursuant to Chapters 6 and 7 of Title 18 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations; or

(2) Tow the vehicle by a tow crane operator to an official District of Columbia inspection station for inspection. After inspection or reinspection, if the vehicle is determined not to be operable or no owner or operator is available to arrange transportation of the vehicle to another location, the Mayor may impound the vehicle pursuant to this section and have a tow crane operator tow the vehicle to any other secured place designated by the Mayor.


(Mar. 16, 1993, D.C. Law 9-199, § 2, 39 DCR 9211; Apr. 9, 1997, D.C. Law 11-198, § 502, 43 DCR 4569; Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-279, § 207, 54 DCR 903; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 196, 56 DCR 1117; June 22, 2016, D.C. Law 21-124, § 501(h), 63 DCR 7076.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-1721.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-279, in subsec. (a)(3), rewrote the last sentence now designated as subsec. (a-1), which read as follows: “For the purposes of this section, a notice of infraction shall not be considered unpaid, pursuant to District of Columbia Taxicab Commission’s (’Commission’) rules and regulations, until after the vehicle owner or operator has failed to request a hearing within the time limit prescribed by 31 DCMR 323.3, or until after the vehicle owner or operator has had a hearing as requested and a final determination has been made by the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Traffic Adjudication;”.

D.C. Law 17-353 validated previously made technical corrections in subsecs. (a)(3) and (a-1).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 502 of the Fiscal Year 1997 Budget Support Emergency Act of 1996 (D.C. Act 11-302, July 25, 1996, 43 DCR 4181), see § 502 of the Fiscal Year 1997 Budget Support Emergency Amendment Act of 1996 (D.C. Act 11-429, October 29, 1996, 43 DCR 6151), and see § 502 of the Fiscal Year 1997 Budget Support Congressional Adjournment Emergency Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Act 12-2, February 19, 1997, 44 DCR 1590).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 502 of Fiscal Year 1997 Budget Support Temporary Amendment Act of 1996 (D.C. Law 11-226, April 9, 1997, law notification 44 DCR 2584).