D.C. Drivers Can Now Legally Be in a Vehicle With an Illegal Weapon If They Don’t Know It’s There
District officials may end up in prison soon because we don't have budget autonomy, but the city scored at least one new freedom today: It is now somewhat legal to drive in a car with an illegal gun.
The D.C. Court of Appeals overturned a 2009 law that made it a felony offense for a person to voluntarily be in a car with an illegally possessed firearm, even if the person has no connection to the firearm, on the basis that it violates due process.
The D.C. Council originally passed this law in order to make it easier to convict someone when a gun is found in a car with more than one occupant and police can't prove who it belonged to.
But the law was challenged in 2010 after police found an illegally owned gun in plain sight in a vehicle's center console during a routine traffic stop with two men in the car. Because officials couldn't tie the driver—the defendant in the case—to the gun, he was acquitted on gun possession charges, but the charge related to this now-struck law stuck.
File this case under good to know, but let's hope it doesn't apply to you.
Gun photo by Shutterstock