Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 41. Natural Disaster Consumer Protection.


§ 28–4101. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Natural disaster” means the actual or imminent consequence of any disaster, catastrophe, or emergency, including fire, other than a fire caused by human error or arson, flood, earthquake, storm, or other serious act of nature, which threatens the health, safety, or welfare of persons or causes damage to property in the District of Columbia.

(2) “Normal average retail price” means:

(A) In the case of services, not more than 10% more than the price at which similar services were sold or offered in the Washington Metropolitan Area during the 90-day period that preceded an emergency that resulted from a natural disaster, if an emergency is declared pursuant to § 28-4102(b); or

(B) In the case of merchandise, the price equal to the wholesale cost plus a retail mark-up that is the same percentage over wholesale cost as the retail mark-up for similar merchandise sold in the Washington Metropolitan Area during the 90-day period that immediately preceded an emergency that resulted from a natural disaster, if an emergency has been declared pursuant to § 28-4102(b).

(3) “Person” means a corporation, firm, agency, company, association, organization, partnership, society, joint stock company, or an individual.


(Mar. 20, 1992, D.C. Law 9-80, § 2, 39 DCR 675; Feb. 5, 1994, D.C. Law 10-68, § 27(g), 40 DCR 6311; May 16, 1995, D.C. Law 10-255, § 23, 41 DCR 5193.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 28-4101.


§ 28–4102. Overcharging.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to charge more than the normal average retail price for any merchandise or service sold during a public health emergency declared pursuant to § 7-2304.01, or during an emergency resulting from a natural disaster declared pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(b)(1) Within 48 hours of a natural disaster, the Mayor may declare, for not more than 30 calendar days, a state of emergency for the purposes of this act. The Mayor shall prepare an emergency declaration that shall include a description of the existence, nature, extent, and duration of the emergency.

(2) Upon the issuance of a declaration of an emergency or as soon as practicable given the nature of the emergency, the Mayor shall publish a copy of the emergency declaration in the District of Columbia Register and in 2 daily newspapers of general circulation.


(Mar. 20, 1992, D.C. Law 9-80, § 2, 39 DCR 675; Oct. 9, 2020, D.C. Law 23-130, § 306(b), 67 DCR 8622.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 28-4102.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 28-4101 and § 28-4103.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 306(b) of Coronavirus Support Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 [Effective August 19, 2020 through October 8, 2020] (D.C. Act 23-405, Aug. 19, 2020, 67 DCR 10235).

References in Text

“This act”, referred to in subsec. (b)(1), is D.C. Law 9-80.


§ 28–4102.01. Stockpiling.

It shall be unlawful for any person to purchase, in quantities greater than those specified by the Mayor, the Department of Health ("DOH"), the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency ("HSEMA"), or the federal government goods that the Mayor, DOH, HSEMA, or the federal government have declared:

(1) Necessary for first responders or others following a natural disaster or a declaration of a public health emergency pursuant to § 7-2304.01 ("public health emergency");

(2) Necessary to maintain supply chains of commerce during a natural disaster or a public health emergency; or

(3) Subject to rationing.


(Oct. 9, 2020, D.C. Law 23-130, § 306(c), 67 DCR 8622.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) creation of this section, see § 306(c) of Coronavirus Support Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 [Effective August 19, 2020 through October 8, 2020] (D.C. Act 23-405, Aug. 19, 2020, 67 DCR 10235).


§ 28–4103. Penalties.

(a)(1) A person who violates § 28-4102(a) or § 28-4102.01 shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000.

(2) The Mayor may revoke, suspend, or limit the license, permit, or certificate of occupancy of a person who violates § 28-4102(a) or § 28-4102.01.

(b) A violation of § 28-4102(a) or § 28-4102.01 shall be a civil infraction for the purposes of [Chapter 18 of Title 2]. Civil fines, penalties, and fees may be imposed as sanctions for any infraction, pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2. Adjudication of any infraction shall be pursuant to Chapter 18 of Title 2.

(c) When the Office of the Attorney General brings a civil action for any violation of §​ 28-4102(a) or § 28-4102.01 under the authority granted in § 28-3909, the maximum penalty authorized by § 28-3909 shall be assessed for each such violation.


(Mar. 20, 1992, D.C. Law 9-80, § 2, 39 DCR 675; Feb. 5, 1994, D.C. Law 10-68, § 27(h), 40 DCR 6311; Oct. 9, 2020, D.C. Law 23-130, § 306(d), 67 DCR 8622.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 28-4103.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 306(d) of Coronavirus Support Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 [Effective August 19, 2020 through October 8, 2020] (D.C. Act 23-405, Aug. 19, 2020, 67 DCR 10235).