JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE MOTOR VEHICLE STATUTES.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Transportation Committee, Department of Motor Vehicles
REASONS FOR BILL:
This bill makes a number of changes to the Motor Vehicle Laws, including increasing driver's license renewal fees and changing other motor vehicle fees, requiring background checks of certain DMV employees, allowing certain people convicted of DUI to drive to certain probation appointments, criminalizing some offenses committed by motor vehicle repair shops and making other offenses an infraction, waiving the motorcycle endorsement written test for certain servicemen and women, modifying what is considered a motor-driven cycle and requiring operators of these vehicles to wear eye protection, modifying laws exempting certain tow truck companies from state licensing, registration and equipment laws, making driving instructor licenses valid for use at any licensed driving school, expanding the types of vehicles that must stop at state weigh stations, prohibiting the DMV commissioner from issuing a driver's license to people age 18 and older who hold an adult instruction permit unless they have held it for at least 90 days, allowing sworn motor vehicle operators to administer oaths and serve search warrants, and barring disclosure of their home addresses, prohibiting CDL holders from taking part in certain pre-trial programs, changing other laws affecting CDL holders, barring the motor vehicles commissioner from registering all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and vessels of delinquent taxpayers, modifying laws concerning driver's license photos and special operator permits and allowing motor vehicle associations to charge $ 3, rather than $ 2, for motor vehicle transactions.
The substitute language removed three provisions from the original bill, a section regarding Year of Manufacture Plates, a section concerning motor vehicles on consignment, and a section that was originally erroneously included. In addition, it adds a section about failing to obey traffic signals given by Fire Police Officers.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles: The DMV supports the bill because it deals with a number of issues relating to the administration of Motor Vehicle Laws and recommends changes to existing laws. Sections 3 and 41 provide technical and clarifying changes to laws relating to mopeds and ATV registration dates respectively. Sections 15 and 21 improve efficiencies for DMV operations and customers by waving the motorcycle examination for active duty military personnel, as well as extending electric vehicle registration to two years. Sections 23-30 deal with the regulation of various businesses that are under the aegis of the DMV, including dealers, safety inspectors, and driving schools. Sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 22, and 54 adjust drivers license fees in accordance with changes made in 2001. Section 28 provides additional towing exceptions for businesses involved in contractual towing. Sections 6, 14, 19, 20, 46, 47, 55, 56, and 57 would bring Connecticut into compliance with Federal and other laws, most notable, various issues regarding Commercial Drivers' licenses, driving under the influence, and background checks.
State of Connecticut Office of Higher Education: The Office of Higher Education supports the bill, with the addition of 'licensed' after 'accredited' on line 463. This would clarify that some schools in Connecticut can be licensed without being accredited.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Connecticut Conference of Municipalities: Supports the bill, especially provisions regarding the non-registration of boats and ATVs for individuals delinquent in their taxes. Also, CCM supports a provision that would add skis and motorcycles to things that are prohibited from being towed. CCM also is concerned about the need to reorganize the process for issuing a Q endorsement for operating fire apparatus, due to concern about compromised safety standards and added liability on towns.
Raphael Podolsky, Legal Assistance Resource Centre of Connecticut: Supports the bill, except for section 26, which would give the Commissioner discretionary authority to mediate consumer complaints. Currently, the Commissioner must mediate such complaints, and that should be preserved, so that more people would not either give up or take it to the courts. More information would be beneficial on the sections relating to wrecker licensing, delivery of a used vehicle prior to payment, and consignment sales.
Freedom of Information Commission: Supports the bill, but is not certain that the prohibition against releasing sworn DMV official's addresses would create the protection that the bill's supporters believe it does. At the moment, the release of anyone's personal information is prohibited if it would put the individual in danger. The FOI commission is uncertain of any danger presented to sworn DMV officers by the release of their home addresses.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Auto Body Association of Connecticut: Opposes the bill because it would create a possibly prosecution ability under the DMV. The bill as it is written is contradictory, and the expectations on licensees are onerous and almost unattainable. It also has a possibility of creating a significant unwanted burden on businesses.
Connecticut Auto Retailers' Association: Opposes the bill because it brings Connecticut back to a time where violations of statutes were misdemeanors, not just infractions with civil penalties. The DMV should not be giving criminal penalties to violators of its statutes, they should just be assessing fines and at the worst revoking a license of an offending business. Criminal statues are usually punishments for acts with criminal intent. Most of the misdemeanors in the bill are technical oversights or errors. It would create criminal penalties out of what are likely just errors.
Connecticut Council of Car Clubs: Opposes the (now-removed) section of the bill relating to Year of Manufacture plates on antique cars, because car enthusiasts would like to be able to use them on their cars.
Jerry Shinners: Opposes the provisions relating to the registration of ATVs in the state, because there is no place to ride them other than private property. As there is no public place to ride them, they should not have to be registered and taxed without trails to ride them on.
John Parese: Opposes the bill because of an unnecessary escalation of penalties against business owners and the criminalization of paperwork violations. Many of the changes are unnecessary, overly putative, and make criminals out of people who make simple errors. Currently, the DMV has the power to levy high fines and even revoke the license of an offending licensee. This seems to be enough power to make certain that people do follow the regulations. In the past, the DMV has been unwilling to help people navigate the sea of regulations, and criminalizing them now seems absurd.
Reported by: Quinn Kess