The Washington Post

Here are 159 minor things D.C. officers can arrest you for

An outtake from the recent controversy over expired-tag arrests: One of the reasons the District’s erstwhile policy was both objectionable and little-noticed is that police officers had discretion over whether or not to arrest a driver whose registration had lapsed.

Expired tags, as it happens, were just one of 160 misdemeanor offenses where officers can choose either to take offenders into custody or to write them what is essentially a glorified ticket.

The full list can be perused in a Metropolitan Police Department document issued in December 2005 outlining the proper procedure for issuing such a “violation citation,” or Form 61D. (It’s online as part of a trove of official department documents released to the nonprofit Partnership for Civil Justice in 2009.)

The list contains a number of other small-bore offenses that you might not realize can land you in jail — stuff like operating a radar detector, storing building materials in an alley, climbing a street lamp, leaving your dog’s excrement untended, or digging for fishing bait in Rock Creek Park.

Metropolitan Police officers are allowed to let violators off if they have “reason to believe that the violator will not cause injury to persons or damage to property, and will make an appearance in answer to the citation.” (Officers in other departments also issue 61Ds, but might have different procedures for doing so.)

The offender has 15 days to report to a police station, where they can choose to contest the charge in court or forfeit their right to a court date if they agree to forfeit some money, too.

According to police union chairman Kris Baumann, the list is “still good as near as we can tell” and was included in a list of active department directives as recently as August. I have queried the police department on whether any offenses should be added or subtracted and, if so, will update.

Herewith, the list:


Allow Operation W/ Improper Tags

Apportioned Tags Violations

Colliding With Pedestrian

Display Expired Tags [repealed by D.C. Council]

Fail To Exhibit Permit

Fail To Exhibit Registration

Fail To Give Right Of Way To Pedestrian

Fail To Identify Self-Pedestrian

Improper Use Of Dealer Tags

Radar Detection Device

Towing — Failure to Clear Accident Debris

Towing — Failure to Display License Properly

Towing — Failure to Inform DPW of Public Tow

Towing — Failure to Mark Tow Truck Properly

Towing — Failure to Permit Proper Inspection

Towing — Failure to Provide “Owner Bill of Rights”

Towing — Initiating Private Tow Without Written Consent

Towing — No Towing Control Number

Towing — Operating a Storage Lot Without a License

Towing — Operating Without a Valid Towing License

Towing — Other Offense Not Specifically Identified

Towing — Unauthorized Removal of Accident Vehicle

Towing — Unauthorized Towing Service At Accident

Towing — Unlawful Deposit of Inoperable Vehicle

Towing — Unlawful Scanner

Towing — Unlawful Towing from Private Property

Towing — Unsafe Towing

Towing — Unsecured Storage Lot


Advert. Mat. — Scattered

Animals — Other than Dogs at Large


Barbed Wire Fences — Public Space

Bees within 500 ft. of Human Habitation

Builders — Building Material on Roadway

Builders — Building Material Stored in Alleys

Builders — Fail to Place Light on Obstruction of Roadway/Sidewalk

Builders — Failure to Store Building Materials on Private Property

Builders — Use of Public Space without Permit

Construction Code Violations

Dangerous Object on Street/Sewer

Deface Public Footway/Roadway

Distribute Handbills — Public Space

Dogs — At Large

Dogs - Disturbing the Peace

Dogs - Maintain Collar

Dogs - Menacing People

Dogs - Unleashed

Dogs - Private Property

Dogs - Vaccination Required

Dogs - Vaccination Tag Required

Dogs - Excrement on Public/Private Property

Expired Commission - Campus Sec. Officer

Expired Commission - Special Pol. Officer

Failure to Obey Order to Remedy Dangerous Condition

False Alarm

Fire Code - Failure to Obey Order (generally)

Fireworks - Deliver 12H

Fireworks - Discharge

Fireworks - Possession

Fireworks - Sell

Fishing - By Other than Rod Hook and Line 12H

Fishing - Commercial Fishing 12H

Fishing - Digging for Bait in Rock Creek Park 12H

Fishing - Dip Net Exceeding Size

Fishing - Exceeding Limit for Species

Fishing - Failure to Attach License Number to Eel Trap

Fishing - Failure to Check Eel Trap

Fishing - Failure to Display a Fishing License

Fishing - Fishing with Seine or Cast Net

Fishing - Fishing Without a License

Fishing - More than 2 Hooks Per Line

Fishing - More than 3 Lines

Fishing - Net Fishing in Rock Creek Park

Fishing - Operating in Excess of 5 Eel Traps

Fishing - Poss. Species with Size Limit Head/Tail Removed

Fishing - Possession of Endangered/Threatened Species

Fishing - Possession of Undersized Fish

Fishing - Take/Catch/Possess Striped Bass/Hybrid Striped Bass (Out of Season)

Fishing - Taking Catching or Possessing Sturgeon

Fishing - With Snag Hook

Fowls Without Permit

Harbor Regs - Accident Fail to Assist

Harbor Regs - Accident Fail to Report Personal Injury

Harbor Regs - Accident Fail to Report Property Damage

Harbor Regs - Accident Identify Self & Vessel

Harbor Regs - Canoe Safety Fail to Instruct

Harbor Regs - Entering Diving Area

Harbor Regs - Entering Restricted Area

Harbor Regs - Fail to comply with Fed Anchor Light regs

Harbor Regs - Fail to Give Harbor Master Change Name/Address

Harbor Regs - Fail to Obtain Permit for Marine Event

Harbor Regs - Fail to Provide Equipment Livery Boat

Harbor Regs - Fail to Yield for Emergency Vessel

Harbor Regs - Failure to Comply with Navigation Rules

Harbor Regs - Failure to Comply Equipment Standards

Harbor Regs - Failure to Register Vessel

Harbor Regs - Failure to Wear Flotation Device -Operator & Person under 18

Harbor Regs - Flotation Device - Suff. Number Approved Suitable Accessible

Harbor Regs - Flotation Device Children under 13

Harbor Regs - Hazardous Condition/Fail to Correct

Harbor Regs - ID Number- Give or Display

Harbor Regs - Land Amphibian Craft Without Permission

Harbor Regs - Livery Fail to Keep Records

Harbor Regs - Minor Operate Without Certificate

Harbor Regs - Minor-Rent boat to

Harbor Regs - Mooring Buoy-Place or Fail to Remove

Harbor Regs - Muffler- Improper

Harbor Regs - Navigation Lights -Improper Display

Harbor Regs - Negligent Operation

Harbor Regs - Noise

Harbor Regs - Obstructing Channel

Harbor Regs - Obstructing Docks

Harbor Regs - Operation without Boating Safety Certificate

Harbor Regs - Polluting Waters

Harbor Regs - Speed

Harbor Regs - Sunken Vessel Fail to Notify Harbor Master

Harbor Regs - Sunken Vessel Fail to Raise After Notification

Harbor Regs - Tie to Bridge or Seawall

Harbor Regs - Tie to Buoy

Harbor Regs - Tie to Navigation Aid

Harbor Regs - Validation Sticker - Fail to Obtain

Harbor Regs - Validation Sticker- Fail to Display

Harbor Regs - Violation of Water Contact/Water Sport Regs.

Harbor Regs - Fail to Notify Transfer/Destr./Theft/Abandon./Recovery/Doc.

Housing Code Violations

Photographer Violations

Photographer - More than 5 minutes at location

Poster - Lewd

Public Sewer, Misuse of

Public Sewers Inflammable Liquids

Public Space Obligations of Owners and Abutting Space

Public Space Selling Vehicles

Public Space Soliciting Employment

Public Space Soliciting Passengers

Public Space Storing Merchandise

Public Space Wet Paint/Other Substance without Warning Device

Public Toilets - Misconduct

Rodent Control

Sale of Cigarettes to a Minor

Second Hand Dealer - Failure to Keep Article Time Required

Second Hand Dealer - Failure to Keep Records Time Required

Snow Removal Railroad Track

Street Lamps - Climbing

Street Lamps - Damage or Break

Street Lamps - Hitching Animals to

Street Lamps - Signs or Ads

Taxi Violations - Loitering

Tent / Temporary Abode Regulation Violation

Transp. Manure

Transp. Trash

Transportation of Materials Improper

Unlicensed Driving Instructor

Unlicensed Parking Lot

Vending - Cry out

Vending - Improper Vending Vehicle

Vending - Longer than Necessary

Vending - Restricted Area

Vending - Restricted Hrs.

Vending - Vending without a License

Water Regulations, Violation of

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.


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