MPD operates cameras designed to catch speeding motorists in the District of Columbia. The camera has a radar gun that detects when a car is speeding and takes two photographs of the rear of the car. The camera has a bracket in the image frame that is supposed to display where the radar gun is aimed. If the car is in the bracket and the license plate is visible, the police will mail a DC photo enforcement ticket to the registered owner of the vehicle.

As you know, it is best to avoid this situation entirely by drinking responsibly, taking public transportation, a taxi, or using a designated driver. However, if you have been drinking and are pulled over there are things you should and should not do.

  • Pull over as soon as you can safely do so and come to a complete stop.
  • Lower your window completely and stay in the car.
  • Place your hands on the wheel and never take them out of site.

This will make the officer feel more comfortable when approaching the car which makes it much safer for you. Don’t forget that police officers have been killed in routine traffic stops, so they have a reason to be cautious. Always be polite to the officers, but you have a constitutional right to remain silent. It may be best to do so. Always have your driver’s license and proof of insurance easily accessible. It is not only safer but you can fail a “divided attention” sobriety test for failing to locate them in a timely manner.

In the District of Columbia, there are three types of "Drunk Driving" offenses.

The first is Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). The government is required to prove, through the use of blood or urine tests, that a driver operated, or had control of, a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams per deciliter of blood. The government is not required to prove that driver was actually suffering any type of impairment.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a charged that requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or drugs and that his or her ability to drive was impaired. The government can use a variety of methods including observation, Field Sobriety Test scores, or blood or urine tests.

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) requires the government to prove that the defendant operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of any amount of alcohol but is not required to show that the defendant was impaired in any way. This charge carries the lightest penalty. It is also not recognized in many other states, so it may not result in a loss of license for some out of state drivers. For those drivers, they are not allowed to drive in the District of Columbia. For a DC license holder, all driving privileges may be suspended


The DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) operates traffic cameras throughout the District. One type of traffic camera is designed to detect if a car crosses the stop line after the light has turned red. When the car enters the intersection, the camera takes a photograph of the car. A second photo is taken when the vehicle is in the middle of the intersection. As long as the license plate is visible in the photograph, the police will mail a speeding ticket to the registered owner.

In Washington, DC, a driver can be charged with a criminal misdemeanor for reckless driving for operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner. This can include failing to yield to emergency service vehicles, aggressive driving, excessive speeding, and other potentially dangerous actions. A conviction for reckless driving could result in up to a year in jail and/or a $1000 fine.