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D.C. Council Votes to Stop Police From Arresting Drivers With Expired Tags

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Drivers climb out of their cars to survey a traffic jam on 14th Street NW near the Ronald Reagan Building after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rattled the East Coast Aug. 23, 2011 in Washington, D.C. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Drivers climb out of their cars to survey a traffic jam on 14th Street NW near the Ronald Reagan Building after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rattled the East Coast Aug. 23, 2011 in Washington, D.C. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The D.C. Council has passed emergency legislation to end the practice of police officers arresting drivers for expired license plates.

The bill submitted by Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray was approved without opposition Tuesday. It would eliminate criminal penalties for expired tags, replacing them with civil fines.

The practice drew scrutiny after a Fox News report that described several instances in which drivers were arrested for registration violations. That prompted U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat, to ask Gray to stop the arrests.

Council Chairman Kwame Brown says drivers shouldn’t worry about going to jail for the “simple error” of failing to renew their registration. Councilmember Phil Mendelson says the practice is out of step with other jurisdictions and isn’t necessary for good law enforcement.

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