Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter III. Passenger Conduct.


§ 35–251. Unlawful conduct on public passenger vehicles.

(a) For the purposes of this subchapter, the term “rail transit station” means a regular rail stopping place for the pick-up and discharge of passengers in regular route service, contract service, special or community-type service, including the fare-paid areas and roofed areas of the rail transit stations (not bus terminals or bus stops) owned, operated, or controlled by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ("WMATA"); provided, that the term “rail transit station” shall not include parking lots, roadways and other areas intended for vehicle traffic.

(b) It is unlawful for any person, either while aboard a public passenger vehicle for hire with a capacity for seating 12 or more passengers, including vehicles owned or operated by WMATA, or while aboard a rail transit car owned or operated by WMATA, or while within a rail transit station owned or operated by WMATA, to:

(1) Smoke or carry a lighted or smoldering pipe, cigar, or cigarette;

(2) Consume food or beverages;

(3) Spit;

(4) Discard litter;

(5) Play any radio, musical instrument, or similar device, unless it is connected to an earphone that limits the sound to the individual user;

(6) Carry any flammable or combustible liquids, explosives, acids, or similar items inherently dangerous or offensive to others;

(7) Carry any animals, except for guide dogs properly harnessed and small animals properly contained;

(8) Stand in front of the line marked on the forward end of the floor of any bus or otherwise conduct themselves in such a manner as to obstruct the vision of the operator;

(9) Operate or chain to any fence, tree, railing, or other structure not specifically designated for such use, skateboards, rollerblades, roller skates, non-motorized scooters, bicycles, tricycles, or unicycles; or

(10) Park, operate, carry, wheel, or chain to any fence, tree, railing, or other structure not specifically designated for such use, mopeds, motorbikes, or any similar vehicle.

(c) It is unlawful for any person, while aboard a rail transit car, knowingly to cause the doors of any rail transit car to open by activating a safety device designed to allow emergency evacuation of passengers. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this subsection that the person charged believed, in good faith, that the action was necessary to protect people from injury or death.

(d) It is unlawful for any person at a rail transit station to stop, impede, interfere with, or tamper with an escalator or elevator or any part of an escalator or elevator apparatus or to use an escalator or elevator emergency stop button, unless this action is taken by a person with the knowledge or the reasonable good faith belief that an emergency makes the action necessary to preserve or protect human life or property, or unless such action is taken by a WMATA employee, other government employees, or WMATA contractor acting pursuant to their official duties.


(Sept. 23, 1975, D.C. Law 1-18, § 2, 22 DCR 1994; Feb. 22, 1978, D.C. Law 2-40, § 2(a), 24 DCR 3344; Sept. 18, 1981, D.C. Law 4-31, § 2, 28 DCR 3120; June 29, 1984, D.C. Law 5-91, § 3(a), 31 DCR 2539; Oct. 1, 1992, D.C. Law 9-171, § 2(a), 39 DCR 5831; May 3, 2019, D.C. Law 22-310, § 4(a), 66 DCR 1395.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 44-223.

1973 Ed., § 44-216.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-1701, § 7-1710, § 35-253, and § 35-254.


§ 35–252. Failure to pay fare or to present valid transfer; entry by rear door prohibited.

Except in emergency circumstances, no person shall knowingly:

(1) Take the following actions without paying the established fare or presenting a valid transfer:

(A) Board a public or private passenger vehicle for hire, including vehicles owned or operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ("WMATA");

(B) Board a rail transit car owned or operated by WMATA; or

(C) Enter or leave the fare-paid area of a rail transit station owned or operated by WMATA; or

(2) Board a public or private passenger vehicle for hire, including vehicles owned or operated by WMATA, through the rear exit door, unless so directed by an employee or agent of the carrier.


(Sept. 23, 1975, D.C. Law 1-18, § 3; as added, Feb. 22, 1978, D.C. Law 2-40, § 2(c), 24 DCR 3344; May 3, 2019, D.C. Law 22-310, § 4(b), 66 DCR 1395.)

Prior Codifications

2001 Ed., § 35-216.

1981 Ed., § 44-224.

1973 Ed., § 44-216.1.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 35-253 and § 35-254.


§ 35–253. Carrier authorized to refuse transportation to violators.

A carrier may refuse to transport a person or persons whose immediately observed conduct or behavior would constitute a violation of § 35-251 or § 35-252.


(Sept. 23, 1975, D.C. Law 1-18, § 4, formerly § 3, 22 DCR 1995; renumbered, Feb. 22, 1978, D.C. Law 2-40, § 2(b), 24 DCR 3344.)

Prior Codifications

2001 Ed., § 35-252.

1981 Ed., § 44-225.

1973 Ed., § 44-217.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 35-251.


§ 35–254. Penalties.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b)(1) of this section, a violation of § 35-251(b) or § 35-252 shall be punishable by a civil fine of not more than $50.

(b)(1) A violation of section § 35-251(b)(6), (c) or (d) shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $300, imprisonment of not more than 90 days, not fewer than 30 hours of community service, or a combination of any 2 penalties, except that imprisonment and community service shall not be imposed together.

(2) The fine set forth in this subsection shall not be limited by Chapter 35B of Title 22.

(3) All prosecutions under this subsection shall be brought by the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.


(Sept. 23, 1975, D.C. Law 1-18, § 5, formerly § 4, 22 DCR 1995; renumbered, Feb. 22, 1978, D.C. Law 2-40, § 2(b), 24 DCR 3344; June 29, 1984, D.C. Law 5-91, § 3(b), 31 DCR 2539; Oct. 1, 1992, D.C. Law 9-171, § 2(b), 39 DCR 5831; May 3, 2019, D.C. Law 22-310, § 4(c), 66 DCR 1395.)

Prior Codifications

2001 Ed., § 35-253.

1981 Ed., § 44-226.

1973 Ed., § 44-218.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 35-251.