Relief is here for the dozens of D.C. drivers who have had their licenses revoked for relatively minor speeding tickets.
The D.C. Council Wednesday unanimously passed emergency legislation that orders the Department of Motor Vehicles to apply reasonable discretion in out-of-state cases of reckless driving. In many of these cases, drivers committed no offense more serious than driving 80 to 85 mph on 70 mph Virginia highways.
The rub is that, under Virginia law, violations of 80-plus mph can be treated as “reckless driving” and, in some jurisdictions, are always treated as reckless driving. The D.C. DMV applied the District’s much more serious reckless driving penalty — automatic license revocation — to those offenses, determining against all evidence and common sense that the Virginia standard of reckless driving is equivalent to the District’s much more rigorous standard.
The emergency bill, authored by Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), fixes a policy that Cheh said had resulted in an “extreme hardship placed on people inappropriately and disproportionately.”
Chairman Phil Mendelson had stronger words for the DMV: “I think the situation has been kind of embarrassing to the District, that the DMV was so inflexible with a determination that defied common sense.”
The emergency bill, once signed by Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), is good for 90 days. In the meantime, the council will work on a permanent fix; a hearing is set for Friday.
In other news: The council earlier Wednesday solidly rejected a proposal to cut the capital gains tax on investments in certain technology-oriented companies. The vote was a significant loss for Gray (D), who sold the tax incentive as necessary to compete for tech business with neighboring Maryland and Virginia.
The measure failed after lobbying from social service advocates, primarily the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, who challenged Gray’s case that the potential loss of tax revenue would be offset by the economic growth the incentive would create.
In the end, only David A. Catania (I-At Large) supported the tax cut. “We are going to get eight percent of nothing rather than three or four percent of something,” he said, referring to the city’s current (8.95 percent) and proposed (3 percent) capital gains tax rates.
Tim Craig will have more later.