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NO. 20. AN ACT RELATING TO SNOWMOBILES.

(S.94)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 23 V.S.A. § 1200(6) is amended to read:

(6) "Vehicle" means a motor vehicle as defined in section 4 of this title, and when on a public highway:

(A) a snowmobile as defined in section 3201 of this title; and

(B) an all-terrain vehicle as defined in section 3501 of this title.

Sec. 2. 23 V.S.A. § 3201(7) is amended to read:

(7) "Trails maintenance assessment" (TMA) means a permit issued by the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, Inc. granting use of Vermont snowmobile trails on public and private land. TMAs shall be issued in three different classifications: Vermont resident snowmobiles, nonresident snowmobiles, and commercial operation.

Sec. 3. 23 V.S.A. § 3201(9) is added to read:

(9) "Commercial operation" means the operation of a snowmobile on the SSTS by an individual participating in a guided tour or who has rented a snowmobile from an individual or corporate entity charging a fee for the tour or rental.

Sec. 4. 23 V.S.A. § 3202(e) is amended to read:

(e) Special provisions for certain areas of operation; Massachusetts; New Hampshire; New York; Province of Quebec. A snowmobile registered in Vermont or in New York may be operated on those trails or bodies of water referred to in *[subdivisions]* subdivision (1) *[and (2)]* of this subsection *[or on immediately adjacent areas in order to obtain services]*; a snowmobile registered in Vermont or in Quebec may be operated on those trails or bodies of water referred to in subdivision *[(3)]*(2) of this subsection or on immediately adjacent areas in order to obtain services; and a snowmobile registered in Vermont or New Hampshire may be operated on those trails or bodies of water referred to in subdivision (3) of this subsection or on immediately adjacent areas in order to obtain services; and a snowmobile registered in Vermont or Massachusetts may be operated on those trails or bodies of water referred to in subdivision (4) of this subsection or on immediately adjacent areas in order to obtain services:

*[(1) Rutland County; operation in Castleton: the Delaware & Hudson Railbed extending from Castleton, Vermont to Salem, New York;]* *[(2)]*(1) Operation between Vermont and New York on Lake Champlain: frozen surfaces of Lake Champlain from Vermont to the New York shoreline; *[(3)]*(2) Operation on other international bodies of waters: frozen surfaces of Lake Champlain, Missisquoi Bay, Lake Memphremagog, and Wallace Pond from Vermont to the Quebec shoreline; *[and]* *[(4)]*(3) Essex County; operation on railbeds; Bloomfield and Beecher Falls: the North Stratford Railbed extending from Bloomfield to North Stratford, New Hampshire, and from the Colebrook, New Hampshire bridge to Beecher Falls and access to United States and Canadian customs and immigration and naturalization services; and

(4) Windham County; operation to Wilmington: from the Vermont/Massachusetts border in the town of Whitingham to services in the village of Wilmington via corridor trails 8, 9 and 100.

Sec. 5. 23 V.S.A. § 3206(b)(7) is amended to read:

(b) A snowmobile shall not be operated:

* * *

(7) *[Natural area]* Public land: on any public land, body of public water or natural area established under the provisions of 10 V.S.A. § 2607, or other state, federal statute, or municipal ordinance, unless the secretary has designated such area for use by snowmobiles in *[a manner]* manners chosen by the secretary *[to give reasonable notice that snowmobiling is permitted]* or other public land manager.

Sec. 6. 23 V.S.A. § 3206(b)(9) is amended to read:

(9) *[Age 15 and under: by a person under 16 years of age, unless he or she has in his or her immediate possession a valid snowmobile safety certificate issued by the commissioner of public safety.]* Safety education: by a person born after July 1, 1983, on private or public land and water without first obtaining a certificate of snowmobile education, unless he or she is operating on land owned, leased or farmed by his or her parents, family or guardian or the operator is the land owner.

(A) Possession of certificate. A person who is required to have a certificate of snowmobile education shall:

(i) possess the certificate when operating a snowmobile on public or private lands and waters of the state, and

(ii) show the certificate on demand of an enforcement officer wearing an insignia identifying him or her as a law enforcement officer. However, no person charged with violating this subdivision shall be convicted if the person produces in court, to the officer, or to a state's attorney, a certificate which was valid at the time the violation occurred.

(B) Exemptions: The following persons are exempt from the requirements of this subdivision:

(i) a person is operating on land owned by his or her parents, family or guardian or the operator is the landowner.

(ii) any other person exempted by rules of the department of public safety.

(iii) any person who is under the direct supervision of a certified snowmobile safety instructor.

(C) Rules: The department of public safety shall adopt rules:

(i) that establish criteria for a course of instruction in snowmobile safety education;

(ii) relating to transient snowmobilers;

(iii) to administer a verbal test when appropriate;

(iv) to coordinate a statewide program of snowmobile safety instruction and certification and ensure that a course of safety education is available within each county; and

(v) that a course of snowmobile safety education is available at the earliest practicable age for children.

(D) Hours of instruction: Any course of snowmobile safety education that is offered shall provide a minimum of six hours of instruction.

(E) Persons offering courses: Any state certified instructor may offer a course of instruction in snowmobile safety education approved by the department of public safety.

(F) Issuance of certificate: The department of public safety or its designee shall issue a certificate of snowmobile safety education to a person who:

(i) passes a departmentally prescribed course of snowmobile safety education; or

(ii) passes a snowmobile safety equivalency examination administered by persons authorized to offer a course of snowmobile safety education.

(G) Education materials: Upon request, the department of public safety shall provide, without charge, snowmobile safety education materials to persons who plan to take the snowmobile safety equivalency examination.

(H) Lifetime issuance: Once issued, the certificate of snowmobile education is valid for the lifetime of the person to whom it was issued and may not be revoked by the department of public safety or a court of law.

(I) Certificate replacement: The department of public safety shall replace, without charge, a lost or destroyed certificate if the department issued the certificate or has a record that the certificate was issued.

(J) Out-of-state certificate: A snowmobile safety certificate issued in another state or country in accordance with or substantially equivalent to criteria of the International Association of Snowmobile Administrators is sufficient to comply with the requirements of this section.

Sec. 7. 23 V.S.A. § 3206(b)(18) and (19) are added to read:

(b) A snowmobile shall not be operated:

* * *

(18) Reasonable and Prudent Operation: in an unreasonable or imprudent manner and:

(A) No person shall drive a snowmobile on the statewide snowmobile trails system or a public right-of-way, open to snowmobiling, at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions, having regard for the actual and potential hazards there existing. In every event, speed shall be controlled as necessary to avoid collision with any person, vehicle, snowmobile or other object on or adjacent to the snowmobile trail.

(B) The operator of every snowmobile shall drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding trail and when a special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic by reason of weather or trail conditions.

(C) Snowmobiles operating on a public right-of-way open to snowmobiling shall comply with the provisions established in sections 1003, 1007 and 1008 of this title.

(D) The maximum speed limit on state lands and public waters shall be determined by the agency of natural resources.

(E) Any law enforcement officer or emergency personnel may disregard speed regulations in accordance with section 1015 of this title.

(19) Commercial Operation: in a commercial manner unless the individual or entity offering the snowmobile for rent or hired for tour, complies with the following:

(A) Private land and private body of water: on any privately-owned land or body of private water unless the individual or entity offering a snowmobile for commercial operation has first obtained the written consent of the snowmobile club responsible for obtaining landowner permission for snowmobile trails and for trail maintenance in that area with consent from the proper owner over whose property the trail passes.

(B) Public land, public water or natural area: for commercial purposes, on any public land, body of public water or natural area, unless the individual or entity has first obtained the written consent of the snowmobile club responsible for trail maintenance, and the secretary or other public land manager has designated such area for use by snowmobiles in a manner chosen by the secretary or public land manager to give reasonable notice that snowmobiling is permitted. The commercial operation of snowmobiles on public land or public water shall be by permit or license issued by the secretary or public land manager in a manner chosen by the secretary or public land manager.

(C) Commercial TMA: a commercial snowmobile operating on any private or public land, private or public water or natural area shall display a commercial TMA.

(D) Commercial snowmobile identification: a commercial snowmobile operating on any private or public land, private or public water or natural area shall display a decal or flag identifying the individual or entity that owns the snowmobile.

Sec. 8. 23 V.S.A § 3207(c) and (d) are amended to read:

(c) A person who violates any of the following sections of this title shall be subject to a fine of $110.00 for each violation:

* * *

§ 3206(b)(7) natural area

§ 3206(b)(18) operation of a snowmobile in an unreasonable manner

§ 3206(b)(19)(D) failure to display commercial identification

(d) A person who violates any of the following sections of this title shall be subject to a fine of $300.00 for each violation:

* * *

§ 3206(b)(17) operation after privilege suspended

§ 3206(b)(19)(C) display of improper TMA by a snowmobile used in a commercial operation

* * *

Sec. 9. 23 V.S.A. § 3216 is amended to read:

§ 3216. GOVERNOR'S SNOWMOBILE COUNCIL

(a) The governor's snowmobile council is created. The members of the council shall consist of the president, or designee, of VAST; the secretary of the agency of natural resources or designee; the *[supervisor of the Green Mountain National Forest]* commissioner of the department of fish and wildlife or designee; the commissioner of the department of public safety or designee; the president of the Vermont sheriffs' association or designee; four members appointed by the governor, one by the speaker of the house and one by the committee on committees in the senate. The *[chairman]* chair shall be appointed by the governor.

(b) The council shall serve the following functions:

(1) To review, advise and consent on development of the annual plan for the expenditure of funds for the statewide snowmobile trails program*[.]*;

(2) To review and advise the governor and general assembly on matters relating to snowmobiling in Vermont, including environmental and community impacts, development of snowmobile trails, ways to encourage snowmobile traffic in those communities that seek more traffic and control the growth in municipalities that desire less traffic, adequacy of parking areas, carrying capacity of trails, state laws and rules affecting snowmobilers and promoting snowmobiling in this state;

(3) To help coordinate efforts of VAST and state and federal agencies, private industry, and nonprofit organizations in meeting the needs of snowmobilers in Vermont;

(4) To perform any other duties or functions regarding snowmobiling assigned by the governor;

(5) To assure that municipal legislative bodies are given advanced notice and an opportunity for input before trail or parking lot expansion takes place in the community.

(c) The members appointed by the governor shall serve for two-year terms and all others shall serve the term of their office.

(d) The council may designate technical work groups, composed or representatives of appropriate public agencies, private organizations and individuals, to assist in the collection, study and evaluation of information and to advise the council on particular issues.

*[(d)]*(e)(1) The appointed members of the council and the president or designee of VAST shall be entitled to compensation at the rate provided for in*[ 32 V.S.A. § 1010]* section 1010 of Title 32. Expenditures shall be paid from snowmobile funds appropriated to the agency of natural resources for administration of the program.

(2) Legislative members shall be entitled to compensation and reimbursement of expenses as provided for by *[§]* section 406 of Title 2.

(3) Technical work group members shall not be entitled to compensation or reimbursement of expenses.

*[(e)]*(f) The council is attached to the office of the secretary of the agency of natural resources for administrative support.

Sec. 10. 23 V.S.A. § 3207a(g) is added to read:

(g) If a person violates this section on a public highway, that person may be convicted of a violation of this section or a violation of section 1201 of this title, but not both.

Sec. 11. 23 V.S.A. § 3207(e) is amended to read:

(e)(1) Snowmobiling while intoxicated; privilege suspension. Any person who is convicted of violating section 3207a of this title shall have his or her privilege to operate a snowmobile suspended for a period of one year and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title.

(2) Snowmobiling while intoxicated; criminal penalty. Any person who violates a provision of section 3207a of this title shall be imprisoned for not more than six months *[and]* or shall be subject to the following fines, or both:

(A) for a first offense, not less than $100.00 nor more than $300.00;

(B) for a second or subsequent offense, not less than $250.00 nor more than $1,000.00.

(3) Snowmobiling while intoxicated; serious bodily injury or death resulting. If the death or serious bodily injury of any person results from the violation of section 3207a of this title, the person convicted shall, instead of any other penalty imposed in this section, be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $2,000.00, or both; but the provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit or restrict prosecutions for manslaughter.

Sec. 12. 23 V.S.A. § 3218 is added to read:

§ 3218. LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER'S TESTIMONY

In any proceeding under this subchapter, a law enforcement officer's testimony that he or she is certified pursuant to section 2358 of Title 20 shall be prima facie evidence of that fact.

Approved: May 10, 1999