What you need to know about new DC-area laws taking effect on Oct. 1

With the new month on Oct. 1 comes a lot of new laws for the D.C. area. Here is what you need to know about what’s going into effect and where.


The time that some Marylanders will have to wait to get their criminal records expunged will be cut roughly in half. The Redeem Act goes into effect Sunday, meaning those with misdemeanors on their records only have to wait five years — instead of 10 — to file for expungement, and those with felonies will only have to wait seven years instead of 15.

And those convicted of marijuana possession can file to have those cases expunged as soon as they complete their sentence.

A victim of a hate crime can now bring a civil case against the offending person or group.

A person seeking help during a medical emergency for taking drugs or alcohol will not face criminal charges if the only evidence against them is them seeking help — an update to the state’s good Samaritan law.

Another new drug-related policy: Hospitals will now have to test all urine for fentanyl. If the test is positive, hospital officials have to send the results, without a name attached, to the Maryland Department of Health.

Changes also include some firearm-related restrictions, preventing people with concealed-carry permits from bringing guns into certain public places as well as private property, unless the owner has given permission.

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that will allow firearms in places that sell alcohol, in private buildings and near public demonstrations, but the new law will still be implemented on Sunday, with people unable to carry guns at museums, health care facilities, school grounds, parks, mass transit facilities, government buildings, stadiums, race tracks, amusement parks and casinos.

One Maryland law, which prohibited prosecution of a person for rape or other sexual offenses against their legal spouse, will be repealed: “Spousal defense” will no longer be accepted as a defense in court.

The District

Starting Sunday, D.C. retailers can no longer refuse to accept cash. Exceptions to this include sales made online, parking facilities that were already not accepting cash before 2020 and stores with a cash-converting machine that doesn’t charge fees. Businesses that violate this rule will face civil penalties.

People with disabilities will be getting more money from the District. Those who get payments through the D.C. Personal Needs Allowance will now get $150 a month instead of $100.


Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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