Code of the District of Columbia

§ 50–2303.04. Civil liability.

(a)(1) The operator of a vehicle shall be primarily liable for the civil penalties imposed pursuant to this subchapter. The owner or lessee of the vehicle, even if not the operator thereof, shall also be liable, unless the owner or lessee can show that the vehicle was used without the owner’s or lessee’s express or implied permission.

(2) An owner or lessee who pays a civil fine or penalties pursuant to this subchapter shall have the right to seek recovery of the amount of the fines and penalties from the operator and shall have a cause of action against the operator of the vehicle for those amounts.

(b) Where a lessor of a vehicle has paid a fine or penalty for which the lessor is liable and the Department thereafter collects from the person to whom the vehicle was rented or leased the amount of the scheduled fine and penalties, or any portion thereof, the lessor shall be entitled to reimbursement from the Department of the amount of the fines and penalties paid by the lessee, less the Department’s cost of collection.

(c) Where a lessor of a vehicle is liable for an infraction, the lessor’s answers to the notice of the infraction mailed to the lessor shall be consistent with § 50-2302.05. The lessor’s failure to answer the notice of infraction within 30 days after mailing shall result in the imposition of monetary penalties established by § 50-2302.05, in addition to the potential civil fine for the infraction. If the lessor fails to answer the notice of infraction within 60 days, the lessor shall be deemed liable for the violation and the civil fine shall also be imposed.


(Sept. 12, 1978, D.C. Law 2-104, § 304, 25 DCR 1275; Apr. 8, 2005, D.C. Law 15-307, § 207(b), 52 DCR 1700; Oct. 30, 2018, D.C.Law 22-175, § 2(f), 65 DCR 9546.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 40-624.

1973 Ed., § 40-1118.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 50-2301.08.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 15-307 rewrote the section which had read:

“(a) The operator of a vehicle shall be primarily liable for the civil penalties imposed pursuant to this subchapter. Subject to the provisions of subsections (b) and (c) of this section, the owner of the vehicle, even if not the operator thereof, shall also be liable therefor, unless he can show that such vehicle was used without his permission, express or implied. An owner who pays any civil fine or penalties pursuant to this subchapter shall have the right to recover same from the operator and shall have a cause of action against the operator of the vehicle for such amount paid.

“(b) The lessor of a vehicle shall not be liable for fines or penalties imposed for an infraction pursuant to this subchapter if:

“(1) Prior to the infraction, the lessor has filed with the Bureau the license plate number and state of registration of the vehicle to which the notice of infraction was issued; and

“(2) Within 30 days after receiving notice from the Bureau of the date and time of an infraction, as well as other information contained in the original notice of infraction, the lessor submits to the Bureau the correct name and address of the person to whom the vehicle identified in the notice of infraction was rented or leased at the time of the infraction and the lessor notifies such person by mail of the notice of infraction.

“(c) Where the lessor has paid any fine or penalty for which he is liable and the Bureau thereafter collects from the person to whom the vehicle was rented or leased the amount of the scheduled fine and penalties owed by such person, or any portion thereof, the lessor shall be entitled to reimbursement from the Bureau of the amount of the fines and penalties paid by the lessor, less the Bureau’s cost of collection.

“(d) Where the lessor is liable for an infraction, he shall not be liable for penalties in excess of the standard civil fine unless the lessor fails to answer within 15 calendar days of his actual receipt of the notice of infraction.”

Applicability

Applicability of D.C.Law 22-175: § 3 of D.C.Law 22-175 provided that the change made to this section by § 2(f) of D.C.Law 22-175 is subject to the inclusion of the law’s fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan. Therefore that amendment has not been implemented.