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H.97

Introduced by   Representatives Kainen of Hartford and Grad of Moretown

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Motor vehicles; operation after license suspended or without insurance; seizure of registration; contempt proceeding for failure to pay traffic offense penalty

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to void the vehicle registration of a person operating a vehicle with a suspended license or without sufficient automobile insurance, and to authorize seizure of the vehicle registration plate from the person.  The bill also recriminalizes fourth and subsequent DLS offenses, and provides for civil contempt proceedings in district court when penalties for traffic offenses remain unpaid after 45 days.

AN ACT RELATING TO OPERATING WITH A SUSPENDED LICENSE AND FAILING TO PAY PENALTIES FOR TRAFFIC OFFENSES

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

Sec. 1.  23 V.S.A. § 674 is amended to read:

§ 674.  OPERATING AFTER SUSPENSION OR REVOCATION OF

            LICENSE; PENALTY

* * *

(c)  A person who violates section 676 of this title for the fourth or subsequent time shall be subject to the penalties set forth in subsection (a) of this section.

(d)(1)  The registration of a vehicle shall be rendered void if a person operates the vehicle in violation of subsection (a) or (b) of this section.  A vehicle which has had its registration voided pursuant to this subdivision shall not be operated upon a public highway until it has been reregistered with the department at full cost.

(2)(A)  An enforcement officer may seize the registration plate of any vehicle which is being operated by a person in violation of subsection (a) or (b) of this section.  The officer shall submit the registration plate to the commissioner along with an affidavit stating that the officer stopped and identified the driver as a person whose privilege to operate a motor vehicle had been suspended.  The commissioner shall revoke the vehicle’s registration if the commissioner determines, after review of department records and the officer’s affidavit, that the person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle was suspended when the officer seized the registration plate.   

(B)  A vehicle which has had its registration plate seized under subdivision (2)(A) of this subsection shall be towed to the tow operator’s place of business and shall not be released until the tow operator is shown proof of the vehicle’s reregistration and insurance, and the towing and storage fees are paid.

(3)  No person shall register any motor vehicle in this state while the person’s operating license or nonresident operating privilege or the privilege of an unlicensed operator to operate a vehicle is suspended or revoked.  The commissioner shall revoke registrations obtained in violation of this subsection, and the registrants shall not be entitled to the refund of any fees or taxes paid in connection with the registration.

(c)(e)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, when a conviction for a violation of this section and a conviction for a violation of section 1201 of this title result from the same incident, any penalty or suspension or revocation of a person’s license or privilege to operate shall be imposed to be consecutive and not concurrent.

(d)(f)  In determining appropriate fines under this section, the court may take into account the income of the defendant.

(e)(g)  For purposes of this section and section 676 of this title, the suspension period for a violation of section 1201 or 1205 of this title shall not be deemed to expire until the person has complied with section 1209a of this title, and the person’s license has been reinstated.

(f)(h)  In establishing a prima facie case against a person accused of violating this section, the court shall accept as evidence a printout attested to by the law enforcement officer as the person’s motor vehicle record showing convictions and resulting license suspensions.  The admitted motor vehicle record shall establish a permissive inference that the person was under suspension on the dates and time periods set forth in the record.  No certified copy shall be required from the department of motor vehicles to establish the permissive inference.

(g)(i)  At the time of sentencing after a second or subsequent conviction under subsection (b) of this section, the court may, in addition to any penalty imposed by law, order that the motor vehicle operated by the person at the time of the offense be immobilized.  At the time of sentencing after a third or subsequent conviction under subsection (b) of this section, the court may, in addition to any penalty imposed by law, order that the motor vehicle operated by the person at the time of the offense be forfeited and sold.  Immobilization and forfeiture procedures under this section shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures in section 1213c of this title.

(h)(j)  A person convicted of violating this section shall be assessed a surcharge of $50.00, which shall be added to any fine or surcharge imposed by the court.  The court shall collect and transfer the surcharge assessed under this subsection to be credited to the DUI enforcement fund.  The collection procedures described in 13 V.S.A. § 5240 shall be utilized in the collection of this surcharge.

Sec. 2.  23 V.S.A. § 800 is amended to read:

§ 800.  MAINTENANCE OF FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

* * *

(c)(1)  The registration of a vehicle shall be rendered void if a person operates the vehicle in violation of subsection (a) of this section.  A vehicle which has had its registration voided pursuant to this subdivision shall not be operated upon a public highway until it has been reregistered with the department at full cost.

(2)  An enforcement officer may seize the registration plate of any vehicle which is being operated by a person in violation of subsection (a) of this section.  The vehicle shall be towed to the tow operator’s place of business and shall not be released until the tow operator is shown proof of the vehicle’s reregistration and insurance, and the towing and storage fees are paid.

(3)  No person shall register any motor vehicle in this state unless the person provides proof of financial responsibility pursuant to section 801 of this title.  The commissioner shall revoke registrations obtained in violation of this subsection, and the registrants shall not be entitled to the refund of any fees or taxes paid in connection with the registration.

Sec. 3.  23 V.S.A. § 2307 is amended to read:

§ 2307.  SUSPENSION AND CONTEMPT PROCEEDING FOR FAILURE

              TO PAY

In the case of failure to pay a penalty, the judicial bureau shall mail a notice to the defendant at the address in the complaint notifying the defendant that failure to pay or otherwise satisfy the penalty within 20 days of the notice will result in suspension of the person’s operator’s license or privilege to operate until the penalty is paid or otherwise satisfied.  A copy of the notice shall be sent to the commissioner of motor vehicles who, after 20 days from the date of notice, shall suspend the person’s operator’s license or privilege to operate until the penalty is paid or otherwise satisfied.  If the penalty remains unpaid after 45 days from the date of notice, the judicial bureau shall refer the matter to the district court for a contempt proceeding under chapter 5 of Title 12, and an additional $25.00 shall be added to the penalty unless the district court judge finds good cause not to do so.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us