Green Driver State Incentives in Washington DC

In an effort to encourage green driving practices and lowering your carbon footprint, Washington D.C. offers incentives to eco-friendly drivers specifically designed to save you time and money. Read on for more.

Green driver incentives and laws might change as D.C.'s attention to environmental issues continues to grow. Keep pace by also consulting your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) branch and the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Washington D.C. Emission Testing Exemption for Electric Vehicles

Washington D.C. exempts the following eco-friendly vehicles from an emissions inspection:

  • Zero-emission passenger vehicles (ZEV).
  • New vehicles with a Manufacturers Certificate of Origin (exemption from initial emissions test only).

For example, if you drive an electric car incapable of running on gas, you can register your vehicle or renew your registration without an emissions test. However, any vehicle using gasoline, which includes hybrids, must pass a smog check.

If you have smog test questions, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles at (202) 737-4404. Or, if you need to find a smog check location, jump to the bottom of this page for an emissions testing site near you. For detailed information on the emissions process—including fees and emission testing waivers—visit our Smog & Emission Checks page.

Reduced Car Registration Fees for Fuel Efficient Cars

If you own a qualifying electric vehicle (hybrid) or clean-fuel vehicle, you’ll receive a discounted rate for first-time vehicle registration through the Washington D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). To qualify for the reduced vehicle registration fee, the following must be true:

  • Your electric vehicle (hybrid) or clean-fuel vehicle must get at least 40 miles to the gallon during city driving. Check for the list of qualifying vehicles that meet the 40 miles per gallon (mpg) requirement:
  • You are the original buyer (as denoted by the Manufacture Certificate of Origin); subsequent buyers are only eligible for an excise tax exemption (mentioned in the section below).

The reduced D.C. vehicle registration fee is $36 per year. The criteria that qualifies you for the reduced registration fee also qualifies your for the Hybrid Vehicle Tax Exemption. Read the next section for details and how to save even more money by driving a green vehicle.

Washington D.C. Tax Incentives for Green Drivers

Drivers of fuel efficient cars are recognized by the DMV with money-saving auto incentives as a way of saying thanks for driving green and limiting the amount of tailpipe pollutants that contribute to global warming.

If you and/or your business need assistance with navigating tax-related incentives, consider consulting a tax professional, your local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center, or Washington D.C.'s Office of Tax and Revenue.

Hybrid Vehicle Excise Tax Exemption

As stated in the above section on reduced vehicle registration fees in the District of Columbia, the same qualifying criteria earns the original purchaser an excise tax exemption. To be eligible for D.C.'s Hybrid Vehicle Excise Tax Exemption you must own a qualifying hybrid or clean-fuel vehicle—either as the original purchaser (as stated on the Manufacture Certificate of Origin) or a subsequent buyer.

To qualify in D.C., your eco-friendly vehicle must achieve at least 40 mpg (city driving). The U.S. Department of Energy's website publishes a list of such green vehicles eligible for this excise tax exemption.

Federal Tax Credits for Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Owners

Owners of fuel-efficient vehicles might also qualify for federal tax credits offered by the Internal Revenue Service. Eligible eco-friendly vehicles include:

  • Electric cars (EVs).
  • Hybrids.
  • Plug-in hybrids (PEVs).
  • Diesels.
  • Alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs).

For more information on federal tax credits, visit

Auto Insurance Discounts for D.C.'s Eco-Friendly Drivers

Some Washington DC auto insurance providers offer insurance discounts for having environmentally-conscious driving habits and/or driving a fuel-efficient vehicle. Consult your car insurance company about potential green vehicle discounts such as:

  • Hybrid auto discounts.
  • Alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) discounts.
  • Economy car discounts.
  • Low-mileage discounts.
  • Pay as you drive discounts.

Of course, providers and circumstances dictate auto insurance discounts. But it's worth looking into. For example, you might receive a 10% discount on car insurance for owning or leasing a hybrid car. Or keeping your miles low might earn you up to a 30% auto insurance discount.

If your current DC auto insurance carrier doesn’t reward eco-friendly driving, find one that does. Compare auto insurance rates online and save some green for going green.

Driving Restriction Waiver for Certified Fuel Efficient Cars

The State grants fleet drivers of certified clean fuel vehicles* an exemption from the following:

  • Time-of-day restrictions.
  • Day-of-week restrictions.
  • Commercial vehicle bans.

The other caveat: your vehicle must be part of a fleet running at least 10 vehicles in an ozone nonattainment area (as specified under the Clean Air Act).

*Clean fuels include:

  • Ethanol.
  • Methanol.
  • Reformulated gas.
  • Diesel.
  • Natural gas.
  • Liquefied petroleum gas.
  • Hydrogen.
  • Electricity.

Additionally, this D.C. alternative fuel vehicle exemption grants you unrestricted access to high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes if you:

  • Operate a covered fleet vehicle certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an Inherently Low Emission Vehicle (ILEV), and
  • Your fleet vehicle is in compliance with applicable ILEV emission standards.

If your vehicle doesn't meet the above criteria, the State does not allow for Washington D.C. HOV lane use. For more on this exemption, contact the Washington D.C. DMV at (202) 737-4404.

Transportation & Climate Initiative of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States

Washington DC is one of 12 participating states of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI). This collaboration of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions aims to grow the clean energy economy, shrink oil dependence, and reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. As an eco-friendly driver, you might be interested in TCI's efforts to enhance the environment.

District of Columbia Smog Test Check Stations

Does your vehicle require emission testing for D.C. vehicle registration? Smog check stations are conveniently located throughout the District of Columbia.

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