Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter II. Refusal to Submit Specimens for Chemical Testing.


§ 50–1905. Test refusal; penalty; evidence of refusal.

(a)(1) If a person under arrest refuses to submit specimens for chemical testing as provided in § 50-1904.02(a), he or she shall be informed that failure or refusal to submit to chemical testing will result in the revocation of his or her license or privilege to drive in the District of Columbia as provided in this section.

(2) If a person, after having been informed as provided in paragraph (1) of this subsection, still refuses to submit to chemical testing, no test shall be given, but the Mayor, upon receipt of a sworn report of the law enforcement officer that he or she had reasonable grounds to believe the arrested person had been driving or was in physical control of a motor vehicle upon the highways while the person was intoxicated or while the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by the consumption of alcohol or a drug or a combination thereof, and that the person had refused to submit 2 specimens for chemical testing, shall:

(A) Revoke his or her license or privilege to drive in the District of Columbia for a period of 12 months; or

(B) Deny the person the issuance of a license, if the person is without a license to operate a motor vehicle in the District, for a period of 12 months after the date of the alleged violation.

(b) If a person under arrest refuses to submit specimens for chemical testing as provided in § 50-1904.02(a), and the person has had a conviction for a prior offense under § 50-2206.11, § 50-2206.12, or § 50-2206.14, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the person is under the influence of alcohol or a drug or any combination thereof.

(c) If a person under arrest refuses to submit specimens for chemical testing as provided in § 50-1904.02(a), evidence of such refusal shall be admissible in any civil or criminal proceeding arising as a result of the acts alleged to have been committed by the person before the arrest.

(d)(1) If a person under arrest refuses to submit specimens for chemical testing as provided in § 50-1904.02(a) and the person was involved in a collision that resulted in a fatality, except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, a law enforcement officer may employ whatever means are reasonable to collect blood specimens from the person if the law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person was intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or of any drug or any combination thereof.

(2) If a person required to submit blood testing under paragraph (1) of this subsection objects on valid religious or medical grounds, that person shall not be required to submit blood specimens but the law enforcement officer may employ whatever means are reasonable to collect breath or urine specimens from the person if the law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person was intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or of any drug or any combination thereof.


(Oct. 21, 1972, 86 Stat. 1018, Pub. L. 92-519, § 5; Sept. 14, 1982, D.C. Law 4-145, § 4(d), (f), 29 DCR 3138; Mar. 9, 1983, D.C. Law 4-174, § 8, 29 DCR 5753; May 5, 1992, D.C. Law 9-96, § 3(c), 38 DCR 7274; May 24, 1994, D.C. Law 10-122, § 6(b), 41 DCR 1658; Apr. 13, 1999, D.C. Law 12-212,§ 4(b), 46 DCR 5; Mar. 2, 2007, D.C. Law 16-195, § 10(b), 53 DCR 8675; Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-279, § 104(a), 54 DCR 903; Apr. 27, 2013, D.C. Law 19-266, § 101(d)(2), 59 DCR 12957.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-505.

1973 Ed., § 40-1005.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-195, in subsec. (a), substituted “person’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams of more either per 100 milliliters of blood or per 210 liters of breath or is 0.10 grams or more per 100 milliliters of urine” for “individual’s blood contains .08% or more, by weight, of alcohol, or .38 micrograms or more of alcohol are contained in 1 milliliter of that person’s breath, consisting of substantially alveolar air, or that person’s urine contains .10% or more, by weight, of alcohol”.

D.C. Law 16-279, in subsec. (a), substituted “his license or privilege to drive in the District of Columbia if the person is a nonresident” for “his license”, throughout the subsection, and deleted “a resident” following “or if the person is”; and in subsec. (b), substituted “the license or privilege to drive in the District of Columbia” for “the license”, and deleted “a resident” preceding “without a license”.

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

Expiration of Law

Expiration of Law 12-212

Section 8(b) of D.C. Law 12-212, which provided that the act shall expire on September 30, 2000, was repealed by section 4 of D.C. Law 13-238.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90-day) repeal of expiration date of section, see § 4 of the Driving Under the Influence Repeat Offenders Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-382, July 24, 2000, 47 DCR 6697).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 4 of the Driving Under the Influence Repeat Offenders Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-437, October 20, 2000, 47 DCR 8737).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 4(f)(2) of Anti-Drunk Driving Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-469, July 31, 2006, 53 DCR 6764).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 10(b) of Anti-Drunk Driving Clarification Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-518, October 27, 2006, 53 DCR 9104).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 9(b) of Anti-Drunk Driving Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-6, January 16, 2007, 54 DCR 1452).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 101(d)(2) 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 amendment of section, see § 101(d)(2) 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 section, see § 101(d)(2) 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 designation of §§ 50-1905 to 50-1907 as subchapter II of this chapter, see § 101(b) 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).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 101(d)(2) 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 § 5(b) of Underage Drinking Temporary Amendment Act of 1993 (D.C. Law 10-12, September 11, 1993, law notification 40 DCR 6834).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 4 of Driving Under the Influence Repeat Offenders Temporary Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Law 13-198, October 21, 2000, law notification 47 DCR 8988).

Editor's Notes

Mayor authorized to issue rules: See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 50-2205.02.

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, § 1-207.13(a)), appropriate changes in terminology were made in this section.


§ 50–1906. License revocation or denial order; hearing.

(a) Whenever any license, or privilege to drive in the District of Columbia, has been revoked or denied under the provisions of this chapter, the reasons therefor shall be set forth in the order of revocation or denial, as the case may be. Such order shall take effect in 10 days (15 days, if the person is a nonresident) after service of notice on the person whose license or privilege to drive in the District of Columbia is to be revoked or who was denied a license. A hearing on the revocation shall be held if the respondent files a request for a hearing within 10 days (15 days if the person is a nonresident) of service of the notice. Such hearing by the Mayor shall cover the issues of:

(1) Whether a law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe such person had been operating or was in physical control of a motor vehicle upon the highway while intoxicated or while the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol or a drug or any combination thereof; and

(2) Whether such person, having been placed under arrest, refused to submit specimens for chemical testing, after having been informed of the consequences of such refusal.

(b) If, following the hearing provided in subsection (a) of this section, the Mayor shall sustain the order of revocation, the same shall become effective immediately.


(Oct. 21, 1972, 86 Stat. 1018, Pub. L. 92-519, § 6; Sept. 14, 1982, D.C. Law 4-145, § 4(e), (f), 29 DCR 3138; Mar. 9, 1983, D.C. Law 4-174, § 9, 29 DCR 5753; Apr. 13, 1999, D.C. Law 12-212, § 4(c), 46 DCR 5; Mar. 2, 2007, D.C. Law 16-195, § 10(c), 53 DCR 8675; Mar. 14, 2007, D.C. Law 16-279,§ 104(b), 54 DCR 903; Apr. 27, 2013, D.C. Law 19-266, § 101(d)(3), 59 DCR 12957.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-506.

1973 Ed., § 40-1006.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-195, in subsec. (a)(1), substituted “alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams or more either per 100 milliliters of blood or per 210 liters of breath or is 0.10 grams or more per 100 milliliters of urine” for “blood contains .08% or more, by weight, of alcohol, or .38 micrograms or more of alcohol are contained in 1 milliliter of that person’s breath, consisting of substantially alveolar air, or that person’s urine contains .10% or more, by weight, of alcohol”.

D.C. Law 16-279, in subsec. (a), rewrote the introductory paragraph, which formerly read:

“(a) Whenever any license has been revoked or denied under the provisions of this chapter, the reasons therefor shall be set forth in the order of revocation or denial, as the case may be. Such order shall take effect 5 days after service of notice on the person whose license is to be revoked or who is to be denied a license unless such person shall have filed within such period written application with the Mayor for a hearing. Such hearing by the Mayor shall cover the issues of:”

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-266 rewrote (a)(1); and substituted “submit specimens for chemical testing” for “submit to the test or tests” in (a)(2).

Expiration of Law

Expiration of Law 12-212

Section 8(b) of D.C. Law 12-212, which provided that the act shall expire on September 30, 2000, was repealed by section 4 of D.C. Law 13-238.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90-day) repeal of expiration date of section, see § 4 of the Driving Under the Influence Repeat Offenders Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-382, July 24, 2000, 47 DCR 6697).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 4 of the Driving Under the Influence Repeat Offenders Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-437, October 20, 2000, 47 DCR 8737).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 4(f)(3) of Anti-Drunk Driving Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-469, July 31, 2006, 53 DCR 6764).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 10(c) of Anti-Drunk Driving Clarification Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-518, October 27, 2006, 53 DCR 9104).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 9(c) of Anti-Drunk Driving Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-6, January 16, 2007, 54 DCR 1452).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 101(d)(3) 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 amendment of (a), see § 101(d)(3) 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 section, see § 101(d)(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) amendment of this section, see § 101(d)(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).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 4 of Driving Under the Influence Repeat Offenders Temporary Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Law 13-198, October 21, 2000, law notification 47 DCR 8988).

Editor's Notes

Mayor authorized to issue rules: See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 50-2205.02.

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.


§ 50–1907. Judicial review.

Any person aggrieved by a final order of the Mayor revoking his or her license or denying him or her a license under the authority of this subchapter, may obtain a review thereof in accordance with § 2-510.


(Oct. 21, 1972, 86 Stat. 1018, Pub. L. 92-519, § 7; Apr. 27, 2013, D.C. Law 19-266, § 101(d)(4), 59 DCR 12957.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-507.

1973 Ed., § 40-1007.

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-266 substituted “his or her license” for “his license”; substituted “denying him or her” for “denying him”; and substituted “this subchapter” for “this chapter.”

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 101(d)(4) 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 amendment of section, see § 101(d)(4) 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 section, see § 101(d)(4) 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) amendment of this section, see § 101(d)(4) 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).

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.