Is that the Pearly Gates I See?

By Peter DePaolis

Last time, we discussed fines as a deterrent (or lack thereof) for reckless driving. But are there other penalties that could be enforced? In today’s economy, Americans have been forced to cut back in all areas of their spending; this includes insurance costs. One consequence to poor driving is adding points to the drivers’ license. Naturally, the accumulation of points affects the cost of insurance. With insurance premiums being high enough as it is, I am positive that most drivers would prefer to keep their payments at the rate they currently are. This threat of continued monetary payment could scare some drivers into driving more cautiously.

Before going on the website for the District DMV, one may not realize the multitude of ways to accumulate points. For example, 10-11 points results in suspension of a license and 12+ points get it revoked for a minimum of six months. As I began to look, I found it interesting that drivers can accumulate more points by turning off their headlights than failing to yield for pedestrians. Again, there is disproportionableness when comparing the penalties for the actions that cause harm to human life and those that do not.

I’d like to point out a statement made by the Council for Court Excellence:

Fines are not a fee or tax. They can be avoided by complying with the law. Failure to do so means the resulting penalty represents a voluntary contribution. Public roads are not private reserves. The privilege to use them is conditioned on respect for the rules and responsibility in following them. Pedestrians shouldn’t have to cross the street as though their lives depended on it.

Walking is meant to be a safe, healthy way of transportation, but with the rising accident rates, it seems that walking is neither.

Likewise, I cannot tell you how many times I have been in the middle of a crosswalk thinking this might be my last step. As over the top, as that sounds, many DC pedestrians have had similar experiences. Sites like (and their Twitter account @struckdc) are advocating for safer walking conditions by exposing the truth about pedestrian accidents in DC. When a Twitter account solely dedicated to DC pedestrian accidents has almost 1,500 Tweets, we’ve got a problem and it’s about time we did something about it.


Protecting Pedestrians Report

License Point System

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.