People driving in the District with an expired license plate can be arrested and jailed under D.C. law- D.C. resident or not. Mayor Vincent Gray has said that he is reviewing the law that has thrown many people in jail.
People who drive with expired tags can be fined up to $1,000 and jailed for up to 30 days “upon being convicted of the offense,” under the D.C. law, but Mayor Gray says his review suggests another option would be to impound the expired licensed vehicles.
According to many residents, the law is controversial because of the deep ramifications it can have on future job opportunities. The Washington Post recently reported where a Naval officer was arrested and held for 3 hours after he was stopped while driving in he District with expired tags. He commented to the Post that on all his future job applications he must check the box “yes” where it asks have you ever been arrested, and then give a detailed explanation. However, the caveat is that many employers may disqualify him and others without an explanation.
U.S. Senator James Webb (D- VA) has weighed in on the law, sighting “there is absolutely no justification for jailing citizens whose only offense is an expired tag.” Many residents agree with his sentiments. Kay Jones, a Ward 3 resident said, “This is just ridiculous! It’s an infraction, not a crime that requires jail time!” Bob Winford, a Ward 6 resident said, “This is just another way D.C. government fails to do a proper job of its legislation oversight.”
Mayor Gray has said that once his review is complete he is open to making alterations to the law, but noted that a driver with expired tags may be may be subject to custodial address, or given a criminal or civil citation.