WASHINGTON (DC News Now)—Days after a woman was arrested and charged for her role in a fatal crash, District officials are trying to figure out how she was allowed on the road in the first place.
43-year-old Nakita Walker was charged with second-degree murder on Monday after police said she hit and killed three people during a crash on Rock Creek Parkway in March. Court documents show that Walker was under the influence at the time of the crash. And, it wasn’t her first time.
Walker was convicted of driving under the influence in 2015, 2018, and 2020. Yet, she still had a license.
“DC Superior Court was being quoted saying (Walker) had three DUIs,” said Deputy Mayor Lucinda Babers. “DCDMV had notification of none of them. So now DC DMV will go back out to DC Superior Court to say what has happened?’”
Babers, who is over Operations and Infrastructure, previously served as the director of the DC DMV.
She said the DMV does not take action to suspend a license until it’s notified that the person is convicted of a DUI or other crime by the court system. In Walker’s case, she said that didn’t happen.
A spokesperson for the courts has disputed that.
“The District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles receives daily data feeds from the D.C. Superior Court, informing them of the cases connected to defendants whose court outcomes may impact their driving privileges,” said Doug Buchanan, Director of Media and Public Relations for DC Courts.
“Evidence has been shared with District officials, indicating the computer transmissions of information in the cases connected to Ms. Nakita Walker were each successfully shared with the DC DMV’s computer system,” he continued. “As far as we have been able to uncover, there are no computer issues with the DC Courts data and computer systems connected to the transmission of information regularly sent to the DC Department of Motor Vehicles.”
Despite the oversight—which council members want to investigate—one council member said District law itself creates a path for dangerous drivers to continue to be on the road, even after serious infractions like DUI.
“In the existing code you actually have to be convicted of a DUI before your license is suspended,” said At Large Councilmember Christina Henderson. “I’m calling it a loophole because I think it is. You’re charged with a serious crime but then you’re able to continue to do that without a consequence.”
Henderson said waiting to suspend a license opens the door to more reckless driving.
“In the process of the time of your case being adjudicated who knows how many other laws you’ll break and how many other people might get hurt because of your reckless driving,” she said.
Henderson is currently drafting legislation that would allow a driver’s license to be suspended after they are charged with a serious traffic crime, as opposed to waiting for a conviction.
“So when you are charged with negligent homicide when you are charged with a DUI your license will be suspended and you can go through a process to have that appealed,” she explained.
That will be introduced in June.
DC News Now checked with laws in neighboring states.
In Maryland, a police officer can issue an Order of Suspension if a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test for alcohol or drugs, or if they test above the legal limit for alcohol.
In Virginia, an officer can issue an Administrative License Suspension if a driver refuses a breath test or if the test confirms the person is above the legal limit.