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Senate Bill No. 1071

Public Act No. 03-264

AN ACT CONCERNING ENFORCEMENT OF MUNICIPAL PARKING REGULATIONS TO PARKING AUTHORITIES AND THE VOLUNTARY PROGRAM TO FACILITATE THE PAYMENT OF FINES FOR PARKING VIOLATIONS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2003) Any consolidated town and city which (1) was consolidated in 1896, (2) has a mayor and a court of common council, and (3) has a population of more than one hundred thousand, may, by ordinance adopted by the court of common council, authorize the parking authority of such consolidated town and city to (A) enforce the parking regulations of such consolidated city and town, and (B) receive the amount remitted to the town and city for parking regulations under subsection (b) of section 51-56a of the general statutes.

Sec. 2. Section 7-204 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

Such parking authority or parking division shall have the power, in the name of the municipality, to (1) create, establish, and expand wherever built by such municipality, off-street parking facilities; (2) acquire by purchase, gift, devise, lease or condemnation, subject to the provisions of section 48-6, real property or any interest therein necessary for or incidental to the construction, maintenance, operation, or expansion of off-street parking facilities, provided such authority shall not be empowered to take by eminent domain any property from a corporation which has the right of eminent domain, and this chapter shall not affect the powers of eminent domain of any such corporation; prepare necessary plans and drawings; (3) construct or cause to be constructed parking facilities; (4) maintain and operate parking facilities; (5) establish and collect reasonable off-street parking fees; (6) give, grant or sell any real property owned by such parking authority to the municipality; dedicate any real property owned by such parking authority to the public purposes for a street or highway; [and] (7) lease parking facilities or such expanded parking facilities as may be provided, and already subject to lease, to any public agency, individual, firm, corporation or hospital, as defined by subsection (b) of section 19a-490, upon such terms and conditions as the public interest may warrant; and (8) enforce parking regulations in a municipality that has adopted an ordinance under section 1 of this act in accordance with the terms of such ordinance.

Sec. 3. Section 7-207a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

Any municipality may, by ordinance, authorize its parking authority or parking division to collect and receive all revenue from parking meters located on public streets in the municipality or to establish metered on-street parking zones. Any municipality that has adopted an ordinance under section 1 of this act may authorize its parking authority to receive the amount remitted to the municipality for parking violations under subsection (b) of section 51-56a. All existing parking meters, upon the adoption of such ordinance, shall become the property of the parking authority or parking division and such authority or division shall succeed to all the obligations of such municipality relative to payment for such meters. The revenues from such meters shall be used by such authority or division for the regulation and control of the parking of vehicles in parking meter on-street and off-street zones, for the cost of purchase, installation, operation, inspection, supervision and maintenance of parking meters, for acquiring, operating and maintaining off-street parking facilities and to fulfill pledges made under the provisions of section 7-206 for the payment of bonds.

Sec. 4. Section 14-150 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

(a) Any person who abandons any motor vehicle within the limits of any highway or upon property other than such person's own without the consent of the owner thereof for a period longer than twenty-four hours shall have committed an infraction and shall be fined not less than eighty-five dollars. The last owner of record of a motor vehicle found abandoned, as shown by the files of the Department of Motor Vehicles, shall be deemed prima facie to have been the owner of such motor vehicle at the time it was abandoned and the person who abandoned the same or caused or procured its abandonment.

(b) Any inspector of the Department of Motor Vehicles, any officer attached to an organized police department, any enforcement officer of a parking authority authorized under an ordinance adopted pursuant to section 1 of this act to enforce parking regulations in the municipality in which it is located or any state police officer upon discovery of any motor vehicle, whether situated within or without any highway of this state, which is a menace to traffic or public health or safety, shall take such motor vehicle into such inspector's or officer's custody and cause the same to be taken to and stored in a suitable place.

(c) Any inspector of the Department of Motor Vehicles, any officer attached to an organized police department, any enforcement officer of a parking authority authorized under an ordinance adopted pursuant to section 1 of this act to enforce parking regulations in the municipality in which it is located or any state police officer, upon discovery of any motor vehicle apparently abandoned or a motor vehicle without proper registration, whether situated within or without any highway of this state, shall affix to such motor vehicle a notification sticker in a manner so as to be readily visible. This notification sticker shall contain the following information: (1) The date and time the notification sticker was affixed to the motor vehicle; (2) a statement that pursuant to this section, if the motor vehicle is not removed within twenty-four hours of the time the sticker was affixed, it shall be taken into custody and stored at the owner's expense; (3) the location and telephone number where additional information may be obtained; and (4) the identity of the affixing officer. If the motor vehicle is not removed within such twenty-four-hour period, the affixing department or parking authority shall take such motor vehicle into its custody and cause the same to be stored in a suitable place, except that such department or parking authority shall make a reasonable attempt to notify the owner of any such motor vehicle which is determined to be stolen prior to taking such vehicle into its custody and shall allow such owner to make arrangements for removal of such vehicle.

(d) If the motor vehicle has no registration marker plates or invalid registration marker plates, and if such inspector or officer makes a determination in good faith that (1) the motor vehicle is apparently abandoned, (2) the market value of such motor vehicle in its current condition is five hundred dollars or less, and (3) the motor vehicle is so vandalized, damaged, or in disrepair as to be unusable as a motor vehicle, title to such motor vehicle shall, upon taking custody of such motor vehicle, immediately vest in the municipality in which the motor vehicle was discovered. Within forty-eight hours of the time that such motor vehicle is taken into custody, the affixing department or parking authority shall notify the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, in writing, of the vehicle identification number and a description of the motor vehicle. Upon sale or other disposition of the motor vehicle, the affixing department or parking authority shall give written notice by certified mail to the person who was the owner of such motor vehicle at the time of abandonment, if known, which notice shall state that the motor vehicle has been sold or otherwise disposed of. The proceeds of the sale or disposition, or the fair market value of the motor vehicle in its current condition, whichever is greater, less the towing and sale or disposal expenses and the amount of any fines due, shall be paid to such person or such person's representatives, if claimed by such person or them within one year from the date of sale. If such balance is not claimed within such period, it shall escheat to the municipality. If the expenses incurred by the municipality for towing and the sale or disposition of such motor vehicle and any such fines exceed the proceeds of such sale or disposition, such person shall be liable to such municipality for such excess amount.

(e) Within forty-eight hours of the time that a motor vehicle is taken into custody and stored pursuant to subsection (b) or (c) of this section, the affixing department or parking authority shall give written notice by certified mail to the owner of such motor vehicle, if known, which notice shall state (1) that the motor vehicle has been taken into custody and stored, (2) the location of storage of the motor vehicle, (3) that, unless title has already vested in the municipality pursuant to subsection (d), such motor vehicle may be sold after fifteen days if the market value of such motor vehicle does not exceed one thousand five hundred dollars or after forty-five days if the value of such motor vehicle exceeds one thousand five hundred dollars, and (4) that the owner has a right to contest the validity of such taking by application, on a form prescribed by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, to the hearing officer named in such notice within ten days from the date of such notice. Such application forms shall be made readily available to the public at all offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles, [and at all] parking authorities authorized under an ordinance adopted pursuant to section 1 of this act to enforce parking regulations and state and local police departments.

(f) (1) The chief executive officer of each town shall appoint a suitable person, who shall not be a member of any state or local police department, to be a hearing officer to hear applications to determine whether or not the towing within such municipality of such motor vehicle was authorized under the provisions of this section. Two or more towns may join in appointing such hearing officer; provided any such hearing shall be held at a location which is as near to the town within which such motor vehicle was towed as is reasonable and practicable. The commissioner shall establish by regulation the qualifications necessary for hearing officers and procedures for the holding of such hearings. If it is determined at such hearing that the vehicle was not a menace to traffic, abandoned or unregistered, as the case may be, the owner of such motor vehicle shall not be liable for any expenses incurred as a result of the taking and storage of such motor vehicle, the lien provisions of this section shall not apply to such owner, and the department which took and stored such motor vehicle shall be liable for such expenses. If the owner, prior to such determination, pays such expenses and the storage charges of such motor vehicle, and it is determined at such hearing that the motor vehicle was not a menace to traffic, abandoned or unregistered, as the case may be, the department or parking authority which took such motor vehicle shall be liable to such owner for the amount paid by such owner. Any person aggrieved by the decision of such hearing officer may, within fifteen days of the notice of such decision, appeal to the superior court for the judicial district wherein such hearing was held.

(2) The chief executive officer of each municipality shall designate a suitable person who shall be responsible for the collection of data concerning abandoned motor vehicles within such municipality and the preparation and submission of periodic reports to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles which shall contain such information as the commissioner may require.

(g) The owner or keeper of any garage or other place where such motor vehicle is stored shall have a lien upon the same for such owner's or keeper's storage charges. Unless title has already vested in the municipality pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, if the current market value of such motor vehicle as determined in good faith by such owner or keeper does not exceed one thousand five hundred dollars and such motor vehicle has been stored for a period of not less than fifteen days, such owner or keeper may, unless an application filed by the owner pursuant to subsection (d) of this section is pending and the owner of such motor vehicle has notified such owner or keeper that such application for hearing has been filed, sell the same for storage and towing charges owed thereon, provided a notice of intent to sell shall be sent to the commissioner and the owner of such motor vehicle, if known, five days before the sale of such vehicle. If the current market value of such motor vehicle as determined in good faith by such owner or keeper exceeds one thousand five hundred dollars and if such motor vehicle has been so stored for a period of forty-five days, such owner or keeper shall, unless an application filed by the owner pursuant to subsection (d) of this section is pending and the owner of such motor vehicle has notified such owner or keeper that such application for hearing has been filed, sell the same at public auction for cash, at such owner's or keeper's place of business, and apply the avails of such sale toward the payment of such owner's or keeper's charges and the payment of any debt or obligation incurred by the officer who placed the same in storage, provided if the last place of abode of the owner of such motor vehicle is known to or may be ascertained by such garage owner or keeper by the exercise of reasonable diligence, notice of the time and place of sale shall be given to such owner by mailing such notice to such owner in a registered or certified letter, postage paid, at such last usual place of abode, at least five days before the time of sale. At any public auction held pursuant to this subsection, such garage owner or keeper may set a minimum bid equal to the amount of such owner's or keeper's charges and obligations with respect to the tow and storage of the motor vehicle. If no such bid is made, such owner or keeper may sell or dispose of such vehicle.

(h) The garage owner or keeper shall report the sales price, storing, towing and repair charges, if any; buyer's name and address; identification of the vehicle and such other information as may be required in regulations which shall be adopted by the commissioner in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, to the commissioner within fifteen days after the sale of the motor vehicle. The proceeds of such sale, after deducting the amount due such garage owner or keeper and all expenses connected with such sale, including the expenses of the officer who placed such motor vehicle in storage, shall be paid to the owner of such motor vehicle or such owner's legal representatives, if claimed by such owner or them at any time within one year from the date of such sale. If such balance is not claimed within said period, it shall escheat to the state.

(i) If the owner of such motor vehicle placed in storage in accordance with the provisions of this section does not claim such motor vehicle within thirty days, the owner of such garage or other place of storage shall, within forty days of the date such motor vehicle was placed in storage with such owner, send a written notice to the commissioner, stating the make, engine number and chassis number of such motor vehicle, the date such motor vehicle was left with such owner for storage and by whom and the registration number thereof if any number plates are on such motor vehicle, which notice shall be placed on file by the commissioner and shall be subject to public inspection. The fee for filing such notice shall be five dollars. Any sale under the provisions of this section shall be void, unless the notice required by this section has been given to the commissioner.

(j) The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles shall adopt regulations, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, (1) specifying the circumstances under which title to any motor vehicle abandoned within the limits of any highway may be transferred to any person, firm or corporation towing such vehicle, and (2) establishing the procedure whereby such person, firm or corporation may obtain title to such motor vehicle.

Sec. 5. Section 14-33 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2003):

(a) If any property tax, or any installment thereof, laid by any city, town, borough or other taxing district upon a registered motor vehicle or snowmobile remains unpaid, the tax collector of such city, town, borough or other taxing district shall notify the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles of such delinquency in accordance with listings and schedules of dates established by the commissioner and on forms prescribed and furnished by him, specifying the name and address of the person against whom such tax has been assessed, the date when such tax was due and the registration number, if known to the collector. The commissioner shall not issue registration for such motor vehicle or snowmobile for the next registration period if, according to his records, it is then owned by the person against whom such tax has been assessed or by any person to whom such vehicle has not been transferred by bona fide sale. Unless notice has been received by the commissioner under the provisions of section 14-33a, no such registration shall be issued until a receipt evidencing the payment of such tax or certificate of abatement of such tax or other satisfactory evidence that the tax obligation has been legally discharged has been presented to the commissioner; nor shall the commissioner register any other motor vehicle or snowmobile in the name of such person until a receipt evidencing the payment of such tax or a certificate of abatement of such tax or other satisfactory evidence that the tax obligation has been legally discharged has been presented to the commissioner, except that the commissioner may continue to register other vehicles owned by a leasing or rental firm licensed pursuant to section 14-15, if he is satisfied that arrangements have been made to discharge such tax obligation, and may issue such registration to any private owner of three or more paratransit vehicles in direct proportion to the percentage of total tax due on such vehicles which has been paid and notice of payment on which has been received. The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles may immediately suspend all motor vehicle or snowmobile registrations issued in the name of any person (1) who has been reported as delinquent and whose registration was renewed through an error or through the production of false evidence that the delinquent tax had been paid, or (2) who has been reported by a tax collector as having paid a property tax on a motor vehicle or snowmobile with a check which was dishonored by a bank and such tax remains unpaid. Any person aggrieved by any action of the commissioner under this section may appeal therefrom in the manner provided in section 14-134. For the purposes of this subsection, "paratransit vehicle" means a motor bus, taxicab or motor vehicle in livery service operated under a certificate of convenience and necessity issued by the Department of Transportation or by a transit district and which is on call or demand or used for the transportation of passengers for hire.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, in consultation with the Treasurer and the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, may enter into an agreement with the tax collector of any city, town, borough or other taxing district whereby the commissioner shall collect any property tax or any installment thereof on a registered motor vehicle which remains unpaid from any person against whom such tax has been assessed who makes application for registration for such motor vehicle. Each such agreement shall include a procedure for the remission of taxes collected to the city, town, borough or other taxing district, on a regular basis, and may provide that a fee be paid by the city, town, borough or other taxing district to the commissioner to cover any costs associated with the administration of the agreement. In the event an agreement is in effect, the commissioner shall immediately issue a registration for a motor vehicle owned by a person against whom such tax has been assessed upon receipt of payment of such tax and a service fee of two dollars, in addition to the fee prescribed for the renewal of the registration.

(c) On and after March 1, 1989, any municipality may participate in a program administered by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to facilitate the payment of fines for parking violations. If any such municipality elects to participate in such program, it shall provide for a notice of violation to be served personally upon the operator of a motor vehicle who is present at the time of service. If the operator is not present, the notice shall be served upon the owner of the motor vehicle by affixing notice to said vehicle in a conspicuous place. In the case of any motor vehicle that is leased or rented by the owner, not more than thirty days after the initial notice of a parking violation for which a fine remains unpaid at such time, a second notice of violation shall be mailed to the address of record of the owner leasing or renting the motor vehicle to such operator. No fines or penalties shall accrue to the owner of such rented or leased vehicle for the violation for a period of sixty days after the second notice is mailed. A participating municipality shall notify the commissioner of every owner of a registered motor vehicle who has unpaid fines for more than five parking violations committed within such municipality on and after March 1, 1989. Upon receipt of such notification, the commissioner shall not issue or renew the motor vehicle registration of such person until he receives notification from such municipality that the delinquent fines have been paid.

(d) The provisions of [this subsection] subsection (c) of this section shall not apply to any person, firm or corporation engaged in the business of leasing or renting motor vehicles without drivers in this state with respect to any motor vehicle which is leased or rented. The commissioner shall adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54, to implement the provisions of [this subsection] subsection (c) of this section.

Approved July 9, 2003