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NO. 58. AN ACT RELATING TO MUNICIPAL CIVIL ORDINANCE PENALTIES.

(S.49)

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

Sec. 1. 4 V.S.A. § 26 is amended to read:

§ 26. HALF-TIME JUDGES

Of the superior and district judge positions authorized by this title, up to two may be shared, each by two half-time judges. Of the magistrate positions authorized by this title, one may be shared by two half-time magistrates. Of the hearing officer positions authorized by *[Title 23]* this title, one may be shared by two half-time hearing officers. Half-time superior and district judges, magistrates and hearing officers shall be paid proportionally and shall receive the same benefits as state employees who share a job. Half-time judges, magistrates and hearing officers shall not engage in the active practice of law for remuneration.

Sec. 2. 4 V.S.A. § 741(a) is amended to read:

(a) The clerks of the Essex, Chittenden and Washington district, environmental, family, superior and supreme courts, the register of Essex, Chittenden and Washington probate court and the *[traffic and municipal ordinance]* judicial bureau may accept payment of court costs, fees, penalties, fines and surcharges by a credit card, debit card, charge card, prepaid card or stored value card. The court administrator may contract with bank credit card companies or other companies to provide for the use of such card accounts as a method of payment and shall pay such bank or other company an agreed upon fee or percentage of the amounts collected and remitted to the court or bureau. The person making the payment shall not be responsible for any bank or company fee or charge for using any card.

Sec. 3. 4 V.S.A. § 1105(b) and (c) are amended to read:

(b) A person who admits or does not contest the allegations may so indicate and sign the complaint. The bureau shall accept the admission or statement that the allegations are not contested and accept payment of the waiver penalty.

(c) If the person sends in the amount of the waiver penalty without signing the complaint, the bureau shall accept the payment indicating that payment was made and that the allegations were not contested.

Sec. 4. 24 V.S.A. § 1977(d) is amended to read:

(d) The complaint shall contain a description of the ordinance allegedly violated, the allegations, the amount of the waiver penalty and the full penalty and an explanation of rights and instructions on answering the allegations. The complaint shall also contain, in boldface print, the following:

(1) IF YOU ADMIT TO A VIOLATION OF THE ORDINANCE OF THE TOWN/CITY/VILLAGE OF OR IF YOU DO NOT CONTEST THE ALLEGATIONS, SIGN THE COMPLAINT ADMITTING THE VIOLATION OR STATING THAT THE ALLEGATIONS ARE NOT CONTESTED AND SEND IT TO THE JUDICIAL BUREAU WITHIN 20 DAYS WITH PAYMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF THE WAIVER PENALTY.

(2) IF YOU WANT TO DENY THE ALLEGATIONS IN THIS COMPLAINT, YOU MUST SEND A SIGNED DENIAL TO THE JUDICIAL BUREAU WITHIN 20 DAYS. IF YOU SEND IN A DENIAL, YOU WILL RECEIVE A DATE FOR YOUR TRIAL FROM THE JUDICIAL BUREAU. IF YOU LOSE THE CASE AFTER A TRIAL, YOU WILL BE ORDERED TO PAY A PENALTY IN AN AMOUNT NOT LESS THAN THE WAIVER PENALTY AND NOT MORE THAN THE FULL PENALTY.

(3) IF YOU DO NOT ANSWER THIS COMPLAINT WITHIN 20 DAYS, OR IF YOU DENY THE ALLEGATIONS IN THE COMPLAINT AND FAIL TO APPEAR FOR THE HEARING, A DEFAULT JUDGMENT WILL BE ENTERED AGAINST YOU IN THE AMOUNT OF THE FULL PENALTY. THE FAILURE TO PAY THE PENALTY ASSESSED WILL RESULT IN FURTHER LEGAL ACTION AGAINST YOU.

*[(4) IF YOU ADMIT OR DO NOT CONTEST OR DO NOT ANSWER, YOU WILL BE LIABLE FOR THE AMOUNT INDICATED IN THE COMPLAINT.]*

Sec. 5. 24 V.S.A. § 1979(c) and (d) are added to read:

(c) Upon entry of default judgment pursuant to 4 V.S.A. § 1105(e), the hearing officer shall assess the full penalty provided for in the ordinance that was found to have been violated.

(d) Upon entry of judgment against the defendant after a contested hearing, the hearing officer shall assess a civil penalty in an amount not less than the waiver penalty and not more than the full penalty provided for in the ordinance that was found to have been violated.

Sec. 6. 24 V.S.A. § 1981(a) and (e) are amended to read:

(a) Upon entry of a judgment after hearing or entry of default by the hearing officer, subject to any appeal pursuant to *[section 1980 of this title]*

4 V.S.A. § 1107, the person found in violation shall have up to 30 days to pay the penalty to the judicial bureau. All the civil remedies for collection of judgments shall be available to enforce the final judgment of the judicial bureau.

(e) If the penalty is not paid within the 20 days, the bureau shall send a notice to the district court in the *[territorial unit where the person resides]* county in which the violation occurred. The clerk of the district court shall forthwith provide notice to the person of a hearing for civil contempt proceedings pursuant to 12 V.S.A. § 122 for the failure to pay the penalty imposed by the bureau.

Sec. 7. 23 V.S.A. § 1012 is amended to read:

§ 1012. OBEDIENCE TO ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS

(a) A person, while operating or in charge of a motor vehicle shall, upon request by an enforcement officer who reasonably suspects that the person has committed or is committing a violation of this title, give his or her name and address and the name and address of the owner of the motor vehicle *[and]*.

(b) The operator shall produce his or her operator's license and the registration certificate for the motor vehicle. If the operator does not have a valid Vermont operator's license or does not have the license on his or her person, the operator shall produce other suitable forms of identification. A person operating a motor vehicle shall promptly and carefully stop when signalled to stop by an enforcement officer wearing insignia which identifies the officer.

(c) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not more than $1,250.00.

*[(b)]*(d) A person who violates subsection (b) of this section shall be *[fined]* assessed a civil penalty of not more than $250.00.

Sec. 8. EFFECTIVE DATE

Sections 4 and 5 of this act shall take effect September 1, 1999.

Approved: June 1, 1999