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General Assembly

 

Substitute Bill No. 149

    January Session, 2009

*_____SB00149TRA___031609____*

AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE CITY OF NEW HAVEN TO CONDUCT A PILOT PROGRAM FOR THE USE OF AUTOMATED TRAFFIC CONTROL SIGNAL ENFORCEMENT DEVICES AT CERTAIN INTERSECTIONS.

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

Section 1. (Effective October 1, 2009) (a) For the purposes of sections 1 to 6, inclusive, of this act, "automated traffic control signal enforcement device" means a device that (1) is designed to automatically record the image of the license plate of a motor vehicle that is entering an intersection in violation of a traffic control signal, and (2) indicates on the recorded image produced the date, time and location of the violation and the traffic control signal.

(b) The city of New Haven, with the authorization of the mayor and the board of aldermen, may conduct a two-year pilot program for the installation and use of automated traffic control signal enforcement devices, at not more than twelve intersections selected by the city, to enforce the provisions of section 14-299 of the general statutes, and may establish a fine not to exceed one hundred dollars for any violation of said section 14-299 that is detected and recorded by such device. All costs of the pilot program shall be paid by the city of New Haven.

(c) Prior to the commencement of such pilot program, the city shall prepare a detailed plan for the operation of the pilot program that shall include the objectives of the program, the name and location of the intersections where an automated traffic control signal enforcement device will be used, and the methods and criteria that will be used to evaluate the results of such program and its success in achieving such objectives. The plan shall be submitted to the Department of Public Safety for its review, comments and recommendations. Within thirty days following the receipt of such plan, the Commissioner of Public Safety shall issue the city of New Haven an official letter of approval for the pilot program. The city of New Haven shall conduct the pilot program in accordance with the plan approved by the commissioner. Upon receipt of the letter of approval, the city shall send a copy of such plan and letter of approval to the Department of Transportation, and shall report the location where each such automated traffic control signal enforcement device will be installed and used to the State Traffic Commission.

Sec. 2. (Effective October 1, 2009) (a) Whenever a violation of section 14-299 of the general statutes is detected and recorded by an automated traffic control signal enforcement device, a sworn police officer shall review the recorded image. If, after such review, such officer finds probable cause that a violation of section 14-299 of the general statutes has occurred, the officer shall issue a citation for such alleged violation and shall, not later than five days after the alleged violation, mail such citation to the registered owner or the lessee of the motor vehicle together with a copy of the recorded image or images produced by the device. A citation shall not be issued under this subsection unless a sign was posted on the street, road or highway where the automated traffic control signal enforcement device was used, not less than thirty days prior to such use, providing notice to operators of motor vehicles that such device may be used to enforce traffic control signal laws on such street, road or highway.

(b) Any automated traffic control signal enforcement device used by the city of New Haven pursuant to this section shall: (1) Be activated and record images only upon detecting the approach of a motor vehicle and a probable violation, and (2) be used only at an intersection where the duration of the yellow signal light is no less than the duration of the yellow signal light recommended under regulations adopted by the State Traffic Commission.

(c) One-half of any fine collected by the city of New Haven pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the general fund of the city or in any special fund or account of the city, as determined by the mayor and the board of aldermen, and one-half shall be paid to the State Treasurer for deposit in the Special Transportation Fund.

Sec. 3. (Effective October 1, 2009) (a) The city of New Haven shall establish by ordinance a traffic control signal violation hearing procedure in accordance with this section. The Superior Court shall be authorized to enforce the assessments and judgments provided for under this section.

(b) The mayor of New Haven shall appoint one or more traffic control signal violation hearing officers, other than police officers or persons who work in the police department, to conduct the hearings authorized by this section.

(c) The city of New Haven may, not later than twelve months after the expiration of the final period for the uncontested payment of fines, penalties, costs or fees for any alleged violation of section 14-299 of the general statutes detected and recorded by an automated traffic control signal enforcement device pursuant to section 2 of this act, send notice to the registered owner or the lessee of the motor vehicle by first class mail at such person's address according to the registration records of the Department of Motor Vehicles or the records of the lessor, respectively. Such notice shall inform the owner or lessee: (1) Of the allegations against such person and the amount of the fines, penalties, costs or fees due; (2) that such person may contest such person's liability before a traffic control signal violations hearing officer by delivering in person or by mail written notice not later than ten days after the date thereof; (3) that if such person does not demand such a hearing, an assessment and judgment shall enter against such person; and (4) that such judgment may issue without further notice.

(d) If the person to whom notice is sent pursuant to subsection (c) of this section wishes to admit liability for any alleged violation, such person may, without requesting a hearing, pay, in person or by mail to an official designated by the city of New Haven, the full amount of the fines, penalties, costs or fees admitted to. Such payment shall be inadmissible in any proceeding, civil or criminal, to establish the conduct of such person or other person making the payment. Any person who does not deliver or mail written demand for a hearing by the tenth day after the date of the first notice provided for in subsection (c) of this section shall be deemed to have admitted liability, and the designated city official shall certify such person's failure to respond to the hearing officer. The hearing officer shall thereupon enter and assess the fines, penalties, costs or fees provided for by the applicable ordinances and shall follow the procedures set forth in subsection (f) of this section.

(e) Any person who requests a hearing shall be given written notice of the date, time and place for the hearing. Such hearing shall be held not less than fifteen days or more than thirty days after the date of the mailing of notice, provided the hearing officer shall grant upon good cause shown any reasonable request by any interested party for postponement or continuance. An original or certified copy of the initial notice of violation shall be filed and retained by the municipality, be deemed to be a business record within the scope of section 52-180 of the general statutes and be evidence of the facts contained therein. A person wishing to contest such person's liability shall appear at the hearing and may present evidence in such person's behalf. The presence of the police officer who authorized the issuance of the citation shall be required at the hearing if such person so requests. A designated city official, other than the hearing officer, may present evidence on behalf of the city. If such person fails to appear, the hearing officer may enter an assessment by default against such person upon a finding of proper notice and liability under the applicable ordinance or statute. The hearing officer may accept from such person copies of police reports, documents of the Department of Motor Vehicles and other official documents by mail and may determine thereby that the appearance of such person is unnecessary. The hearing officer shall conduct the hearing in the order and form and with such methods of proof as the hearing officer deems fair and appropriate. The rules regarding the admissibility of evidence shall not be strictly applied, but all testimony shall be given under oath or affirmation. The hearing officer shall announce the hearing officer's decision at the end of the hearing. If the hearing officer determines that the person is not liable, the hearing officer shall dismiss the matter and enter the hearing officer's determination in writing accordingly. If the hearing officer determines that the person is liable for the violation, the hearing officer shall forthwith enter and assess the fines, penalties, costs or fees against such person as provided by the applicable ordinances of that municipality.

(f) If such assessment is not paid on the date of its entry, the hearing officer shall send by first class mail a notice of the assessment to the person found liable and shall file, not less than thirty days or more than twelve months after such mailing, a certified copy of the notice of assessment with the clerk of a superior court facility designated by the Chief Court Administrator with an entry fee of eight dollars. The certified copy of the notice of assessment shall constitute a record of assessment. Within such twelve-month period, assessments against the same person may be accrued and filed as one record of assessment. The clerk shall enter judgment, in the amount of such record of assessment and court costs of eight dollars, against such person in favor of the municipality. Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, the hearing officer's assessment, when so entered as a judgment, shall have the effect of a civil money judgment and a levy of execution on such judgment may issue without further notice to such person.

(g) A person against whom an assessment has been entered pursuant to this section is entitled to judicial review by way of appeal. An appeal shall be instituted not later than thirty days after the mailing of notice of such assessment by filing a petition to reopen such assessment, together with an entry fee in an amount equal to the entry fee for a small claims case pursuant to section 52-259 of the general statutes, at a superior court facility designated by the Chief Court Administrator, which shall entitle such person to a hearing in accordance with the rules of the judges of the Superior Court.

Sec. 4. (Effective October 1, 2009) Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, a violation of section 14-299 of the general statutes detected and recorded by an automated traffic control signal enforcement device pursuant to section 2 of this act shall not constitute an infraction or violation, be processed by the Centralized Infractions Bureau, be considered a moving traffic violation, be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles for inclusion on a person's driving record or cause the assessment of points against the operator's license of the person found to have violated said section.

Sec. 5. (Effective October 1, 2009) For the purposes of sections 1 to 6, inclusive of this act, whenever a violation of section 14-299 of the general statutes occurs, proof of the registration number of any motor vehicle involved in such violation shall be prima facie evidence that the owner of such vehicle was the operator of such vehicle at the time such violation occurred, except in the case of a leased or rented motor vehicle, such proof shall be prima facie evidence that the lessee was the operator of such vehicle at the time such violation occurred.

Sec. 6. (Effective October 1, 2009) Not later than June 30, 2012, the city of New Haven shall submit a report to the General Assembly, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, concerning the conduct and results of such pilot program. Such report shall include a comparison and analysis of: (1) The number of violations of section 14-299 of the general statutes that occurred at the intersections where such automated traffic control signal enforcement devices were used, prior to and during the use of such enforcement devices; (2) the number and type of related traffic violations and accidents that occurred at such intersections prior to and during the use of such enforcement devices; and (3) the number of violations of section 14-299 of the general statutes and related violations and accidents that occurred at intersections where such control signal enforcement devices were used and at similar intersections where such automated traffic control signal enforcement devices were not used. The report shall also describe situations in which camera results could not be used, or were not used; the number of leased, out-of-state or other vehicles, including trucks, where enforcement efforts were unsuccessful; the amount of revenue from fines retained by the city; the cost of such pilot program to the city, and such other data or comparisons deemed of interest or importance by the city.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2009

New section

Sec. 2

October 1, 2009

New section

Sec. 3

October 1, 2009

New section

Sec. 4

October 1, 2009

New section

Sec. 5

October 1, 2009

New section

Sec. 6

October 1, 2009

New section

TRA

Joint Favorable Subst.