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Washington DC Auto Insurance [Rates + Cheap Coverage Guide]

District of Columbia Statistics SummaryDetails
Road MilesTotal in State: 1,503
Vehicle Miles Driven: 3.5 Billion
Driving DeathsSpeeding: 17, 55%
Drunk Driving: 16, 52%
VehiclesRegistered: 329,881
Total Stolen: 3,783, 11%
Most Popular VehicleHonda Civic
Average Premiums (Annual)Liability: $629
Collision: $469
Comprehensive: $233
Combined Premiums: $1,331
Percent of Motorists Uninsured15.6%
State Rank: 10th
Cheapest ProviderPharmacists Mutual

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What’s better than spending a day in Washington D.C.? The sights are captivating, the history is complex, and the traffic is…awful. No joke; Washington D.C. has some of the worst traffic in the nation, according to The Washington Post.

For tourists, that traffic can be a pain. For residents of the District of Columbia, though, it’s a daily nightmare. Weekends might be bearable, as the population drops to roughly 690,000, but the work week sees the population of Washington D.C. skyrocket.

From Monday to Friday, Washington D.C. is home to nearly 1 million residents.

Feel intimidated yet? Don’t let the threat of traffic frighten you. We’re here to lend a hand and try to make your D.C. commute a little more bearable.

While we can’t play fairy godparent and wave away any traffic jams that make you late to work, we can help you conquer the roadway legislation and auto insurance complexities that keep D.C. running.

From elaborating on rules about distracted driving to comparing auto insurance rates, we’re here to make your driving time in D.C. a little smoother. If you want to learn more about the auto insurance companies in your area, you can even take advantage of our FREE online tool! Just input your zip code, and you’ll be able to compare auto insurance rates in your area lickity-split.

So, let’s start down the roadways of Washington D.C. together and see if we can’t find the best auto insurance coverage and rates for you.

Table of Contents

Washington D.C. Auto Insurance Coverage and Rates

Auto insurance poses an interesting puzzle to all of us – and sometimes an expensive one. While we all know that taking preventative action in case of a car accident is important, we can sometimes forget why in the face of the auto insurance bills that arrive in our mailboxes.

Thus, we’ve created this guide to D.C. auto insurance. Not only can we help you better understand why paying that bill is especially important, but we can help you find the best deals for your ideal coverage in the D.C. area.

Let’s start with the basics, then: what kind of coverage does the District of Columbia require its drivers to have?

Washington D.C. Minimum Coverage

Most states have a minimum amount of liability coverage that all drivers need to have in order to legally operate a moving vehicle on state roadways. In this, the District of Columbia is no different than the rest of the nation.

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Washington D.C.’s minimum coverage operates in the amounts of 25/50/10 to cover any damage done to someone else. What does that mean? Take a look at the chart below:

Required CoverageMinimum Limits (25/50/10)
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability Coverage$10,000 minimum
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury$20,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage$5,000 per accident
w/$200 deductible

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As you can see, D.C. requires a minimum of $25,000 to cover bodily injury per person and it maxes out at no less than $50,000 per accident.

Additionally, a driver in D.C. is required to have a minimum of $10,000 in coverage in order to attend to any property damage that may arise as the result of a car accident.

That seems like a fair chunk of change, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised, though – this minimum coverage is considered the district minimum for a reason. You’ll likely want to pursue broader coverage if you’re visiting and driving in D.C. on a regular basis.

Why? Well, consider this.

Nearly 16 percent of drivers in Washington D.C. are driving without auto insurance.

That means that, in the case of an accident, there’s a 16 percent chance that you may encounter a driver who won’t be able to cover any damage done to your car, your environment, or your person.

Do yourself a favor and don’t be that person, yourself. Seeking out broader coverage is hardly a bad thing, and in cases like the one presented in this hypothetical, the cost is more than worth it.

Forms of Financial Responsibility

Along with minimum coverage, you’ll be required to carry proof of insurance on your person or in your car as a driver in Washington D.C.

If you’re caught driving without your license, vehicle registration, and/or proof of insurance, you may face a fine and infraction on your license. D.C. law enforcement takes their job quite seriously in this regard, namely due to the aforementioned 16 percent of drivers who’ve opted to drive without insurance.

What qualifies as proof of insurance, then? D.C. law defines that paperwork as any of the following:

“A document issued by an insurance company that lists the name of the insurance company, the policy number, the name or names of the insured, and the period of coverage for the insurance.”

This will most likely refer to your insurance company’s certificate of insurance. Unlike many of the 50 states, you can’t rely on your driver’s license or proof of insurance payment to cover you in D.C.

Premiums as a Percentage of Income

Let’s shift gears for a moment, though, and talk about your potential premium. If you’re on a budget, D.C.’s minimum insurance requirements can sound like the best kind of coverage to work with. However, you’ll likely find that the insurance premium your provider of choice has you pay will rely on your reported DPI, or Disposable Personal Income.

What is your DPI? This income is whatever remains after you’ve paid your taxes, and it is available for you to spend or save as you choose.

D.C., it’s worth noting, is not exactly an inexpensive city to live in. In general, people living in Washington D.C. have reported less than or equal to $5,000 DPI per month. This means that a D.C. resident will have $5,000 to divide between rent, groceries, utilities, and any other bills that come her way in addition to auto insurance.

And what does the average auto insurance premium look like in D.C.?

As of 2017, the average amount of money a D.C. resident spent on auto insurance over the course of a year came in at $1,324.

Now, over the course of a year, that means a D.C. driver would spend $110 a month on auto insurance if she chose not to pay her premium in a lump sum. We’ve divided the math of it all up in the chart below:

Rates vs IncomeCost/Percent
Annual Full Coverage
Average Premiums
Monthly Full Coverage
Average Premiums
Annual Per Capita
Disposable Personal Income
Monthly Per Capita
Disposable Personal Income
Percent of Income2.21%

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That’s a reasonable chunk of change to spend on auto insurance, yes. However, auto insurance payments of the like ensure that, as a D.C. driver, you’re driving with the appropriate amount of coverage to keep you and the other drivers around you as safe as possible.

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rates in Washington D.C. (Liability, Collision, Comprehensive)

So, what kind of coverage is there for you to consider beyond the D.C. minimum? Let’s take a look:


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As you can see, you have the option to pursue liability, collision, or comprehensive coverage, as well as any combinations of the three. While the rates listed above were accurately reported by the NAIC, you can be assured that they’re expected to have risen by 2019.

How do rates compare in D.C.versus the rest of the U.S.?

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Loss Ratios in Washington D.C.

Loss Ratio201220132014
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)63%82%55%
Medical Payments (Med Pay)194%93%29%
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist65%70%74%

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The aforementioned loss ratios elaborate on insurance companies’ coverage payouts. A loss ratio, specifically, indicates what percentage of claims auto insurance companies selling coverage in Washington D.C. are paying out.

  • Higher loss ratios indicate that a particular auto insurance company is likely going to support you after an accident – but said company may also be at risk of going bankrupt.
  • On the other hand, lower loss ratios reflect financial habits that may leave a auto insurance company in the black. However, lower loss ratios also indicate that a auto insurance company may be unable or unwilling to fully protect you and your property after an accident.

We recommend that you look for a auto insurance company that has loss ratios listed somewhere in between these two extremes. A balanced loss ratio is indicative of responsible business practices that will keep you financially secure in the case of an accident.

Washington D.C.’s Additional Liability Coverage

There are other add-ons to consider when you’re thinking about fleshing out your auto insurance coverage. Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Medical Payments (Med Pay), and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage can all come in handy.

  • Personal Injury Protection covers anyone in the vehicle at the time of loss up to the limit purchased regardless of fault. It also can pay for rehab, costs loss of income due to being out of work, and funeral expenses.
  • Medical is similar to PIP in that it pays for anyone in the vehicle regardless of fault, however it is limited to paying for medical expenses in $1,000 increments.
  • Uninsured coverage pays in like fashion to the liability limits but when a person is hit by an uninsured driver or in a hit-and-run situation.
  • Underinsured coverage pays just like uninsured coverage but when a person is hit by a driver that doesn’t have enough coverage to pay the full claim.

The uninsured and underinsured coverages may not exceed the limits of a person’s bodily injury and property damage liability limits. In other words, a person cannot cover himself for more liability than he covers someone else.

The District of Columbia does not require you to have any of these add-ons included in your insurance policy. Even so, it might be useful to think about including them in your coverage.

After all, nearly 16 percent of drivers in Washington D.C. are driving without insurance according to the Insurance Information Institute.

If you have PIP, Med Pay, or Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist coverage on your side, you don’t have to worry about finding yourself in a financial bind after an accident.

These types of additional coverage will see to it that you don’t have to rely on an uninsured or underinsured driver to cover your medical bills or property damage costs. Instead, you can turn to your insurance company and make sure that everything that may have been damaged in an accident is returned to you whole as soon as possible.

Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders

There are other forms of coverage add-ons that can make your auto insurance all the more comprehensive. We’ve gathered a list of some of the most useful add-ons, endorsements, and riders that will serve drivers in Washington D.C. well.

  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
  • Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
  • Rental Reimbursement
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance
  • Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
  • Non-Owner Auto Insurance
  • Modified Auto Insurance Coverage
  • Classic Auto Insurance
  • Pay-As-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance

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Average Auto Insurance Rates by Age & Gender in Washington D.C.

Myth would have you believe that men are worse drivers than women. Whether or not this myth is true, some auto insurance companies have taken it as fact and charge men more for their auto insurance than they do women.

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Luckily for drivers living and operating in Washington D.C., this isn’t so much the case. Geico and Progressive charge women more than they do men for auto insurance coverage in Washington D.C., even when the driving records and profiles of male drivers and females drivers are effectively identical.

Women driving in Washington D.C. can even pay up to as much as $240 more per year for their auto insurance coverage than their male counterparts.

Highest and Lowest Insurance Rates by Washington D.C. Zip Code

Even though the District of Columbia is reasonably compact, it’s still broken up into a variety of zip codes. As it turns out, too, these zip codes can impact your auto insurance coverage rates as much as, if not more so, than your gender or age.

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Consider the following:

Zip codeAverage Annual RateAllstateGeicoNICOAProgressiveState FarmUSAA

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The next time you want to head to a auto insurance company and request a rate for your insurance, remember the importance of location, location, location.

Washington D.C. Auto Insurance Companies

One of the great things about auto insurance is that there are hundreds of providers around the country who are able to insure you with any kind of coverage you choose.

One of the bad things about auto insurance is that, when faced with so many options, it can be really difficult deciding what kind of coverage you need and which auto insurance provider will insure you most effectively.

That’s why you’ve got us. We’ve done some digging on Washington D.C.’s auto insurance companies, and we’re ready to help you better understand what kind of coverage suits you best.

The Largest Companies’ Financial Ratings

Let’s take a look at AM ratings first. AM ratings help you see which auto insurance providers are financially strong and can support you in the case of an accident.

Providers (largest to smallest)A.M. Best Rating
Berkshire HathawayA++
State FarmA++
Liberty MutualA

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As you can see, Washington D.C.’s providers all look pretty good. When it comes to these sorts of comparisons, though, you’ll want to consider a company’s loss ratio with care.

Loss ratios reveal how much a company is willing to pay out on a claim that you file.

  • Insurance companies with high loss ratios are willing, typically, to pay out on your claim in its entirety. However, these companies may also be less financially stable than their peers.
  • Alternatively, companies with lower loss ratios are more financially stable. However, these companies will also be less likely to pay out on the entirety of your claim, and you may find that you’re not covered as well you could be when partnered with them.

We recommend finding a auto insurance provider with a fairly average loss ratio, then cherry-picking a provider based on the company’s other qualities.

Companies with the Best Ratings

Take, for example, customer satisfaction. As you can see in the chart below, D.C. residents have access to auto insurance companies with glowing customer ratings as well as mediocre ones.

J.D. Power 2018 Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking – Mid-Atlantic Region
CompaniesRankingJ.D. Power Circle Rating™
NJM Insurance8645
Erie Insurance8545
The Hartford8393
Mid-Atlantic Region8383
Plymouth Rock Assurance8353
State Farm8262
CSAA Insurance8162
Liberty Mutual8012

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Erie Insurance comes out on the top of the heap in this particular line up, suggesting that its customer service and available coverage plans make a number of Washington D.C. residents pretty happy.

Companies with Most Complaints in Washington D.C.

How do things look on the other end of the spectrum, though? Which auto insurance provider has received the most customer insurance complaints?

CompanyComplaint RatioTotal Complaints
Amica Mutual0.552
American Family0.873
Liberty Mutual6.1222
J. Whited7.4253
State Farm0.41482

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It’s a bit funny how the tables can turn, isn’t it? Geico and State Farm both scored reasonably high on the J.D. Power assessment, and yet they’ve also seen some of the most customer complaints on this list.

This may be because Geico and State Farm are two of the largest auto insurance providers in the country.

It also goes to show, though, that complaint data may not indicate a company’s overall value as effectively as other statistics.

Washington D.C. Auto Insurance Rates by Company

Let’s hit on the data that really matters: financial averages. What do the average insurance rates look like in Washington D.C.?

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10 Cheapest ProvidersRates10 Most Expensive ProvidersRates
Pharmacists Mutual$280State Farm$1,200
Geico Advantage$422Geico Choice1,264
Horace Mann$448LM General$1,340
USAA Casualty$484Erie$1,448
IDS Property Casualty$528Nationwide$1,638
USAA$566California Casualty$1,874
Progressive Casualty$580Great Northern$2,154
Amica$614Allstate Property$2,424
Progressive Direct$662LM Insurance$2,824
AIG Property Casualty$702Allstate Indemnity$5,774

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That’s quite the spectrum! Whatever your budget, then, it appears that Washington D.C. has a auto insurance provider who can work within your monetary boundaries.

Commute Rates by Zip Code

As you might guess, Washington D.C.’s size limits the variety in its coverage rates. We’ve included those rates here, all the same, so you know what you’re getting into while shopping for auto insurance in D.C.

Zipcode10 miles commute - 6000 annual mileage25 miles commute - 12000 annual mileage

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Your commute will likely not impact your auto insurance rates in D.C., as the city is so compact. We’re all lucky these insurance companies measure commute by miles and not minutes, though, aren’t we? D.C. is notorious for its traffic and super commutes, as we’ll touch on later.

Commute distances definitely don’t affect your rates as much as some other factors.

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Coverage Level Rates by Zip Code

In much the same vein we have coverage rates in Washington D.C.

ZipcodeAnnual Rate with High CoverageAnnual Rate with Medium CoverageAnnual Rate with Low CoverageAverage Annual Rate

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Again, you’ll notice a minimal difference between the district’s zip codes. Every zip code not included in this table abides by the 20002 rates.

Credit History Rates by Zip Code

Your credit score will impact the rate that a auto insurance company is able to offer you, but once again, D.C. sees little variation in these amounts.

ZipcodeAnnual Rate with Good CreditAnnual Rate with Fair CreditAnnual Rate with Poor CreditAverage Annual Rate

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Driving Record Rates by Zip Code

Finally, we can consider how your driving record will impact the insurance rate you’re offered by a D.C. provider. As you can see, a DUI or other infraction will cost you significantly more than a clean slate.

ZipcodeClean recordWith 1 accidentWith 1 DUIWith 1 speeding violationGrand Total

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Largest Auto Insurance Companies in Washington D.C.

We took a bit to discuss the size of different auto insurance provider across the nation. National size doesn’t contribute to local size, though. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest auto insurance providers in Washington D.C.

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CompanyPremiums WrittenMarket Share
Liberty Mutual11,8763.42%
State Farm72,05020.74%
Berkshire Hathaway125,82936.22%

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Berkshire Hathaway takes the cake for the largest provider in Washington D.C. Who are these auto insurance giants, though, and are they the right provider for you? Take the time to learn a little bit more about the company and any other auto insurance company you may be interested in. You’ll benefit for the extra information.

Number of Insurers in Washington D.C.

A brief exploration of foreign and domestic insurers can raise a few questions. What qualifies as domestic coverage, and what qualifies as foreign?

In this case, domestic coverage is any coverage of yours that you get within the District of Columbia.

Foreign coverage, then, is coverage that comes from any other state in the union.

Provider TypeTotal

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Washington D.C. Laws and Legalities

One of the best ways to keep your auto insurance rates low is to stay on top of the laws and legalities of the place you’re living in.

What do the rules of the road look like in D.C.? Let’s explore them together.

Auto Insurance Laws

If you’ve moved to D.C. recently, you might think you have a handle on the rules that keep you legal on the road. That may not actually be the case, though. Every state in the United States has a different set of legislation in place in order to ensure that drivers stay as safe as possible while driving.

Where should we start? At the beginning, of course. Stick with us, and you’ll see that there are a number of ways that you can change the way you drive and benefit from it.

How State Laws for Insurance are Determined

Insurance rates in Washington D.C. are put into place through a process called “File and Use.” This process, according to the NAIC, requires proposed rates and forms to be filed with the D.C. insurance department before they’re put into use.

This means that all of the rates available to you in D.C. are rates that have been approved by the district’s insurance department. The one exception to this rule is that if an insurance commissioner determines that a particular rate is too high or too low, that commissioner can choose to lower or raise the price as necessary.

High-Risk Insurance

What is high-risk insurance? If you have a driving record that consists of a number of DUIs, accidents, or other infractions, then you’re considered a “high-risk” driver.

It can be difficult in any state, not to mention D.C., to get coverage through a auto insurance provider.

High-risk drivers in Washington D.C. need to apply and qualify for something referred to as SR22 which is a filing that is added to the policy. This type of filing, once submitted through the D.C. DMV, will cause the policy to be more expensive but also guarantees that you have proof of insurance in the case of a future accident or encounter with law enforcement.

Low-Cost Insurance

Washington D.C. has state-sponsored coverage available to drivers who live in low-income homes. Instated in 1982, this form of coverage was instituted in order to ensure that every driver in the increasingly-populated D.C. was insured in case of an accident.

This coverage is known as the District of Columbia Automobile Insurance Plan (D.C. AIP).

If you’re a high-risk driver or live in a low-income home, you can apply for D.C. AIP coverage and feel more confident driving in D.C.

Windshield Coverage

Having a cracked windshield in Washington D.C. can get you pulled over and ticketed for unsafe driving. You’d assume, then, that D.C. would have laws in place facilitating that replacement or repair of your windshield in case of an accident.

Not so, unfortunately.

That doesn’t mean, though, that your auto insurance provider won’t have windshield coverage included in a comprehensive coverage plan. Windshield coverage may also be available to you as an add-on. Talk to one of your auto insurance representatives and make sure that you avoid driving with an obstructed view in D.C.

Learn more here: Washington DC Windshield Insurance

Automobile Insurance Fraud in D.C.

Automobile fraud is indisputably illegal in Washington D.C., not to mention the rest of the United States. The good news is that it’s extremely difficult to accidentally commit insurance fraud.

Automobile insurance fraud requires intention. To be charged with committing auto insurance fraud, you’ll have had to:

  • Purposefully faked an accident or incident
  • “Padded” a auto insurance claim

That said, Washington D.C. has strict laws and consequences in place when it comes to auto insurance fraud.

EffortsD.C. Law
Insurance Fraud Classified as a CrimeYes: penalties include fine and prison time
Immunity Statues EstablishedYes: protects the proper exchange of information between customer and insurer
Fraud Bureaus in PlaceYes: the Enforcement and Investigation Bureau in the Department of Insurance investigates fraud in all three financial sectors
Mandatory Insurer Fraud PlanYes: requires insurers to create and implement programs to reduce insurance fraud
Mandatory Auto Photo InspectionNo: five states require photos to be taken of used cars before collision or comprehension coverage is provided

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Just to summarize, there are specific things you cannot do when it comes to auto insurance fraud in Washington D.C.:

  • Buy or sell insurance from or to a client who, according to their financial history, will not be able to pay you back or provide you appropriate auto insurance coverage.
  • File a falsified claim.
  • Hide or modify claim records, insurance documents, or material assets that apply to a person’s insurance.
  • Falsely act as an agent of a auto insurance company in order to earn money or gather information.
  • Misappropriate funds procured through claims, business transactions, or business mergers.

That may feel like a lot to remember, but it’s best to keep it all in mind. Committing auto insurance fraud has serious consequences:

Crime LevelFraud LevelFinePrison Time
MisdemeanorAttempt - any valueup to $1,000up to 180 days
2nd DegreeAttempt - value at $1,000 or more1st offense - up to $10,000
2nd offense - up to $20,000
1st offense - up to 5 years
2nd offense - up to 10 years
1st DegreeSucceed - value at $1,000 or moreup to $50,000up to 15 years

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Remember, though: auto insurance fraud is extremely difficult to commit by accident. So long as you go into your claim with good intentions and care, you should be in the clear.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations refers to the time within which you’re able to file an insurance claim after an accident has occurred.

Washington D.C. gives you three years after the date of the incident in question to file an insurance claim or to take other legal action, according to state legislative code.

That may feel like a lot of time, but you’ll still want to move quickly after an accident has occurred in order to get the payback due that you deserve.

Washington D.C. Specific Laws

Even though the District of Columbia is not specifically a state, there are still a number of policies in place that you’ll need to abide by in order to remain street legal. Consider the following:

ViolationPoints Awarded
Drive with an expired license (under 90 days expired)2
Drive a vehicle without the required class of license2
Follow another vehicle too closely (tailgate)2
Commit a moving violation that doesn't contribute to an accident (and isn't listed below)2-3
Break the seatbelt laws3
Commit moving violations that contribute to an accident3
Fail to yield or stop for a pedestrian3
Speed 11-15 mph over the posted speed limit3
Speed 16-20 mph over the posted speed limit4
Fail to stop for a school bus when lights flashing4
Drive when in violation of your restricted license4
Drive with a learner's permit without a licensed driver5
Speed 21 mph over the posted speed limit5
Commit a misdemeanor crime involving a motor vehicle6
Fail to yield to an emergency vehicle6
Reckless driving6
Leave the scene of a collision (when no personal injuries occurred)8
Turn off headlights to avoid being seen by a police officer8

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The penalties for these violations vary in severity, but they’re unquestionably worth noting:

ViolationPoints Awarded
Flee or attempt to elude a police officer12
Leave the scene of an accident where personal injury occurred (hit and run)12
Aggravated reckless driving12
Drive with a suspended or revoked driver license12
Drive with someone else's driver license12
Get convicted for an assault or homicide by vehicle12
Drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs12
Drive under 21 with any measurable amount of alcohol12
Commit a felony crime by vehicle12
Make a false affidavit or statement under any law relating to driving or vehicles12
Commit any violation while driving without the permission of the owner12

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Vehicle Licensing Laws in Washington D.C.

You need to have proof of insurance on you at all times while you’re on the road in Washington D.C. Why? Because Washington D.C. has harsh consequences in place that drivers without proof of insurance have to face, even if they’re, in reality, covered.

As a reminder, D.C. law defines that paperwork as any of the following:

“A document issued by an insurance company that lists the name of the insurance company, the policy number, the name or names of the insured, and the period of coverage for the insurance.”

Inspection TypePrivate Passenger VehicleCommercial VehicleFor-Hire Vehicle
Emissionsevery 2 yearsannualannual
Safetynot requiredannualannual

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Vehicle TypeCost
New Vehicle$10
Private Passenger Vehicle$35
For-Hire Vehicle$35
Commercial Vehicle$35
Re-Inspection (after failing)$35 (after 20 days)
Inspection Sticker Replacement$10

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That said, the consequences are even more severe for drivers without insurance in Washington D.C. The fines alone for owning a car that isn’t insured start at $2,500. Every time you get caught driving without proof of insurance, you’ll have to pay a fine of a minimum $1,718.

What’s the takeaway from all of this? Don’t drive without auto insurance. The consequences in Washington D.C., in particular, are especially severe.

Teen Driver Laws

Shifting gears a little bit, let’s explore the restrictions placed on teen drivers. Washington D.C. has the highest minimum age requirement in the United States for teenage drivers, according to the NOLO Legal Encyclopedia.

Teen drivers in Washington D.C. cannot get their license until they are least 16.5 years old.

That high minimum age isn’t where D.C.’s teenage caution ends, though. Take a look at the following:

Requirements: Getting a Driver's LicenseTime/Age
Mandatory holding period6 months
Minimum supervised driving time40 hrs in learner’s stage
10 hrs at night in intermediate stage
Minimum age16.5 years-old

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Restrictions: Learner's to Intermediate LicenseSpecifics
DrivingLearner's: prohibited 9pm-6am
Intermediate: prohibited Sep to June: 11pm-6am (Sun-Thurs) & 12:01am-6am (Sat-Sun)
July to Aug: 12:01am-6am
PassengersNone for either license stage (unless immediate family)

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The majority of these restrictions expire once you turn 18. The learner’s permit stage, though, is mandatory, and the intermediate stage will either be completed or you’ll turn 21.

Sound like a lot? It is, but D.C. driving laws — especially those in place for teenagers – are meant to keep every driver on the road as safe as possible. So, yes, you might have to wait to take your friends to the movies until you’re a little bit older, but it’ll be worth the wait in the long run.

Older Driver License Renewal Procedures

Speaking of age: what does the driver’s license renewal process look like for drivers under and over 70 years old?

Washington D.C. requires drivers to renew their licenses every eight years.

However, if you’re under 70 years old, you can renew your license through the mail or online. Once you pass 70 years old, you have to go to the DMV in person in order to get an eye exam and to have a representative assess your physical and mental ability to drive.

New Residents

If you’ve just moved to D.C., this wave of information may be overwhelming. Fear not, though. The process of registering your car with the Washington D.C. DMV isn’t as difficult as you may think.

  • Make sure your auto insurance coverage complies with the district’s minimum requirements.
  • Have your vehicle pass an emission inspection within 30 days of your arrival in the district.
  • Go to the DMV in person in order to register your car with a representative. Bring proof of your new address, and you’ll be good to go.

Rules of the Road in Washington D.C.

Those are the auto insurance-related legalities that you have to be aware of while on the road in D.C. What does day-to-day driving look like, though, and what kind of rules do you need to be aware of in order to stay point-free?

Fault vs. No-Fault

Unlike a number of other states in the union, the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles notes that Washington D.C. is a no-fault district.

That means that no one person is going to take the blame for the property or physical damage sustained in an accident.

Everyone who’s sustained damage, physical or property, will have the opportunity to use personal injury protection (PIP) or “no-fault” insurance in order to cover medical bills or property restoration. This covers anyone in the vehicle up to the limit purchased regardless of fault.

Keep Right and Move Over Laws

While every other state in the United States has some sort of law and penalty instituted to keep slower drivers on the right side of the road or roadways clear for passing emergency vehicles, Washington D.C. does not.

It is legal in Washington D.C. for drivers to pass on either the right or left-hand sides of the road.

However, if you see an emergency vehicle’s lights in your rear-view mirror, move to the left side of your lane in order to stay out of their way.

It’s weird, yeah, but it just goes to show that the rules you thought applied everywhere will vary based on where you’re driving.

Speed Limits

Speed limits in Washington D.C. do not exceed 55 miles an hour. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the range of speed limits in the states tends to balance between 25 miles per hour and 55 miles per hour. Do what you can to go a little slower than usual in D.C., then – after all, you’ll get to see some amazing sights, and they’re worth the slower driving speed.

Seat Belt and Car Seat laws

It’s worth noting when considering seat belt and child safety seat laws in Washington DC  that police officers can and will pull a driver over if it appears that the driver in question isn’t wearing a seat belt.

The charge of not wearing a seat belt can be the primary reason for the police interaction, as opposed to the legalities of 18 other states, which require the officers to have a secondary reason to pull a car to the side of the road.

Seat Belt LawsSpecifics
Effective SinceDecember 12, 1985
Primary EnforcementYes
Age/Seats Applicable16+ years old in all seats
1st Offense Fine$50 plus fees

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Similarly, officers can intervene if it appears that a driver isn’t using the right kind of car seat for a child in the car.

Car Seat LawsSpecifics
Car Seat RequiredChildren 7 yrs old and under
Rear-Facing Seat RequiredNo Law
Forward-Facing Seat AllowedNo Law
Booster Seat AllowedNo Law
Adult Seat Belt AllowedChildren 8 yrs old and older
Rear Seats RequiredNo Law
1st Offense Fine$75

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Not only will these violations result in the fines listed above, but you’ll also have points added to your license if you’re caught driving without a seat belt or with an inappropriate car seat.


With the rise of Lyft and Uber, new laws have had to be set in place in order to take ridesharing into consideration.

In Washington D.C., Geico, Liberty Mutual, and Allstate offer auto insurance coverage that will cover drivers who work in ridesharing, delivery, or ride-hailing. However, there are also rules in place that determine what kind of make, model, and year of car that can be used for these services.

Vehicle Year2006 or newer2007 or newer
Vehicle Size4-door with 5-8 seats4-door car or minivan
Vehicle SafetyMust pass DMV check and background checkMust pass inspection, be in good condition, & no cosmetic damage (no commercial branding allowed)
DriverMust be over 21 and have a valid driver's licenseMust be over 21 and have a valid driver's license
Insurance & RegistrationMust have state/local insurance and vehicle registrationMust have state/local insurance and vehicle registration

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If you’re interested in using your vehicle for ridesharing or another car-oriented career, make sure you check through D.C.’s Public Vehicle-For-Hire Innovation Act to be sure that your car meets all of the requirements that the Washington has in place.

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Safety Laws in Washington D.C.

There are also steps that D.C. requires you, as a driver, to take in order to remain a conscientious citizen while on the road. Do what you can to keep yourself safe while driving, and you’ll find that you’ll contribute to the overall safety of D.C. roadways.

DUI Laws in Washington D.C.

As of 2016, Washington D.C. saw 51 percent of its car accident or traffic deaths involve a driver who had been drinking or who had a BAC of .08 and above.

With that devastating fact in mind, it’s worthwhile to consider the legal consequences of drinking and driving.

Driving ImpairedSpecifics
Name for OffenseDriving Under the Influence (DUI)
BAC Limit.08
High BAC Categories.20-.25
Criminal StatusMisdemeanor
Look Back Period15 years

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What’s a look back period? A “look-back period” refers to the stretch of time that DUI will remain on your driving record. Some states can be reasonably forgiving when it comes to look-back periods. Washington D.C., however, takes drunk driving seriously, especially given the 51 percent rate of alcohol-related driver deaths in recent years.

How are the consequences of drunk driving divvied up? Consider the following:

Common Penalties for a First-Time DUI Offense
Type of Penalty for First DUIPenalty Details
License revoked6 months
Jail timeBAC over .20: 10 days
BAC over .25: 15 days
BAC over .30: 20 days
up to 180 days
FineUp to $1,000
Vehicle impoundedNo law
DUI programAlcohol Diversion Program possible
Community serviceDetermined in court
Mandatory ignition
interlock device
Required to get
license reinstated
$98 min, SR22 insurance, and retake driver test
ProbationDetermined in court
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Common Penalties for a Second DUI Offense
Type of Penalty for Second DUIPenalty Details
License revoked1 year
Jail timeBAC below .20: 5 min
BAC over .20: 10 days
BAC over .25: 20 days
up to 1 year
FineUp to $5,000
Vehicle impoundedNo law
DUI programDetermined in court
Community service30 days possible
Mandatory ignition
interlock device
Required to get
license reinstated
$98 min, SR22 insurance, and retake driver test
ProbationDetermined in court
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Common Penalties for a Third DUI Offense
Type of Penalty for Third DUIPenalty Details
License revoked3 years
Jail timeBAC under .20: 5 days min
BAC over .20: 15 days
BAC over .25: 25 days
up to 1 year
FineUp to $10,000
Vehicle impoundedNo law
DUI programDetermined in court
Community service30 days possible
Mandatory ignition
interlock device
Required to get
license Reinstated
$98 min, SR22 insurance, and retake driver test
ProbationDetermined in court
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Even if you just sit behind the wheel while drunk, you can be fined as listed above. Do what you can, then, to absolutely avoid having any alcohol before driving in Washington D.C. It simply isn’t worth the price.

Distracted Driving Laws

Likewise, D.C. has legislation in place meant to keep drivers from texting or calling while driving.

Cellphones LawsWho
Hand-held use bannedAll drivers
All use bannedLearner's permit holders
Texting bannedAll drivers

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If you’re caught texting and driving while on the road, you will quickly receive a texting ticket. If you haven’t caught on already, officers in Washington D.C. are intent on keeping the roadways in the district as safe as possible.

Washington D.C. Can’t-Miss Facts

So now that you know how to keep your insurance rates low in Washington D.C., it’s worth it to explore the ways in which you may have to keep your car safe from other drivers. One of the best cures for trouble is prevention, and by taking D.C.’s fatality statistics into account, you can drive even more safely on the state’s roadways.

Vehicle Theft in Washington D.C.

In the south, pickup trucks are the cars to steal. While they crack the top ten in Washington D.C., you can see that there are a few other cars that are likely to catch a thief’s eye.

Make & ModelVehicle YearTotal Thefts
Chevrolet Impala201340
Chrysler 300/300M200540
Chevrolet Full Size Pickup199941
Ford Full Size Pickup199749
Nissan Altima201562
Toyota Corolla201070
Toyota Camry201495
Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee2001109
Honda Accord1997132
Dodge Caravan2002167

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As of 2013, the FBI reported that 3,147 cars were stolen in Washington D.C. over the course of the year. If you own any of the makes listed above, you might want to keep an eye on your car when you leave it parked for the day.

Even if your car isn’t among the aforementioned list, it’s worthwhile to invest in alarms that’ll let you know when someone is putting their hands where they don’t belong.

Dangers on the Road in Washington D.C.

There’s more to worry about while driving in D.C. than vehicle theft, though. We’ve taken into account the different factors that contribute to car accidents in the Washington so that you can maneuver through the data at your own pace.

Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition

Weather also plays a significant role in determining the safety of your vehicle.

Weather ConditionDaylightDark, but LightedDarkDawn or DuskOther / UnknownTotal

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While you don’t have to worry too much about tornadoes or earthquakes in Washington D.C., it’s still worthwhile to take a look at the weather forecast before you head out on an especially rainy morning.

Traffic Fatalities

Because Washington D.C. is so small, we can take a look at its fatalities all at once without breaking it down into cities or zip codes.

Year:Total Deaths:Year:Total Deaths:

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As you can see, the past 10 years have seen an unfortunate number of car-related deaths in the District of Columbia.

Fatalities by Person Type

The people who are most likely to be the victims of a car accident may not be the ones you anticipate, especially in D.C. While it’s passengers in a number of other states in the union that see the most fatalities in an accident, D.C. ranks pedestrians among the most likely to be killed as a result of a car accident.

Person Type20132014201520162017
Passenger Car Occupants476812
Truck & Van Occupants33042

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We can also track trends in fatalities by person type by looking at the number of individual parties that have been caught in a car accident over the past five years.

Person Type20132014201520162017
Passenger Car Occupants476812
Truck & Van Occupants33042

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As you can see, safe driving in D.C. has an impact on more than just the other drivers around you. It keeps the people on the sidewalks safe, as well.

Fatalities by Crash Type

It’s also worth noting that the majority of car accidents and fatalities that occur in Washington D.C. involve only one car and that intersections are most frequently the site of crashes.

Crash Type20132014201520162017
Single Vehicle Crash1316171824
Large Truck Involved35200
Speeding Involved91271617
Rollover Involved34134
Alcohol-Impaired Driver7571216
Involving an Intersection1010101010
Roadway Departure Involved6751113

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Speeding and Alcohol’s Impact on Fatalities

As you can see by in the above chart, drunk driving and speeding also contribute to the number of fatalities Washington D.C. sees over the course of a year. There’s been a recent spike in the number of these behavioral fatalities, which means that it’s all the more important for you to keep a watchful eye on the road while driving through the nation’s capital.

EMS Response Time

You may feel, in light of the deluge of negative statistics, that driving in Washington D.C. simply isn’t worth the risk. That’s not the case, though. EMS response time in D.C. is especially reassuring.

Time of Crash to EMS Notification1 minute 57 seconds
Notification to EMS Arrival3 minutes 39 seconds
Time of Crash to Hospital Arrival48 minutes 40 seconds

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On average, an EMS will get you from the site of a car accident to the hospital in under an hour, and medically-trained professionals will be at your side in under four minutes. If you do get in an accident in Washington D.C., then, you can rest assured that someone will arrive to help support you in little to no time at all.


We’ve touched on all the nitty-gritty details of auto insurance and car safety, so let’s wrap this guide to driving in Washington D.C. up with a quick exploration of the ways locals maneuver around the district.

Car Ownership

In response to Washington D.C.’s nationally-famous traffic, a number of locals don’t own a car and instead rely on public transportation to get them from Point A to Point B. However, just as many households keep one or two cars parked in their garages.

Commute Time

With so many cars up and running in the district, you won’t be surprised by the length of commute times in Washington D.C. Not only is the population a major contributor to traffic in the area, but the roadway limitations lend themselves to the 40-90 minute commutes that a number of D.C. residents have to take.

Washington D.C. is also home to the super commute – a commute that lasts for longer than an hour.

Nearly 7,000 households in Washington D.C. see commutes that keep them in their cars for three hours before and after work on a daily basis.

Does that number alone send shivers down your spine? That’s fairly understandable. Luckily, D.C. offers its residents more than one way to get from one place to another.

Commuter Transportation

So, how do Washington D.C. drivers move between work and home on a daily basis?

The vast majority of drivers in Washington D.C. drive to work alone daily. Combine this with the prevalence of public transportation, and you can start to understand why traffic in D.C. can be so congested.

It’s that congestion that makes getting the best auto insurance policy possible important. You can use our FREE tool to compare auto insurance policies in your area now.


  1. https://dmv.dc.gov/node/1119046
  2. https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists
  3. https://eapps.naic.org/cis/
  4. https://www.aipso.com/Plan-Sites/District-Of-Columbia
  5. https://code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/code/sections/12-301.html
  6. https://www.drivinglaws.org/resources/district-columbia-teen-driving.html
  7. https://dmv.dc.gov/service/vehicle-insurance
  8. https://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/laws/speedlimits
  9. http://dcclims1.dccouncil.us/images/00001/20121120160809.pdf
  10. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812450

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