PA 15-46—sSB 936

Transportation Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES' RECOMMENDATIONS WITH RESPECT TO AUTOCYCLES AND THREE-WHEELED MOTORCYCLES

SUMMARY: This act allows the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to register “autocycles,” a three-wheeled vehicle it defines as a type of motorcycle. It (1) distinguishes autocycles from three-wheeled motorcycles and (2) allows drivers to operate autocycles with a standard “class D” license (i. e. , without needing a motorcycle license endorsement).

It also:

1. creates a license endorsement allowing people to drive three-wheeled (but not two-wheeled) motorcycles;

2. requires passengers under age 18 to wear helmets when riding on certain (a) motorcycles; (b) motor scooters; or (c) bicycles with attached motors (“motor-driven cycles,” see below);

3. subjects motorcycles, including autocycles, to laws on odometers and towing; and

4. requires autocycle operators to have motor vehicle insurance with personal injury coverage for passengers, and subjects them to certain other laws applicable to motorcycles and motor vehicles.

The act extends a sales and use tax exemption to certain commercial motor vehicles that transport hazardous waste. (PA 15-5, June Special Session, 235, repeals this provision. ) It also makes minor and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015

AUTOCYCLES

Autocycle and Motorcycle Definitions

The act classifies autocycles as a type of motorcycle and requires that they meet federal motorcycle safety standards (49 CFR Part 571). It refines the definition of motorcycles to distinguish them from autocycles.

Under the act, an “autocycle” is a motorcycle with up to three wheels that:

1. is designed to be controlled with a steering wheel and foot pedals,

2. has partially or fully enclosed seats in which occupants sit with their legs forward, and

3. has seat belts.

Prior law defined a motorcycle as a vehicle with up to three wheels and a saddle or seat on which a rider sat or platform on which he or she stood. The act additionally specifies that (1) a motorcycle rider straddles the saddle or seat and (2) the vehicle is controlled with handlebars. The act also includes as motorcycles vehicles that have, or are designed to have, a completely enclosed driver's seat and a motor that is not in the enclosed area.

Laws Applying to Autocycles

The act allows drivers to operate autocycles with a standard “class D” driver's license. It subjects autocycle operators to certain motor vehicle laws. Specifically, it:

1. prohibits autocycle drivers from overtaking and passing a motor vehicle traveling in the same lane;

2. requires autocycle owners to have motor vehicle insurance that includes personal injury coverage for passengers; and

3. subjects 16- and 17-year-old autocycle drivers to passenger restrictions that would apply if they were driving other motor vehicles (see BACKGROUND).

Laws Applying to Motorcycles and Autocycles

The act applies certain existing laws to operators of both autocycles and motorcycles (including three-wheeled motorcycles). Specifically, it requires these vehicles to be equipped with properly functioning odometers and applies existing criminal penalties to anyone who removes or tampers with an odometer or sells or installs a device that gives a false mileage reading (see BACKGROUND). It also applies to these vehicles existing laws on the towing or removal of motor vehicles from private property.

Laws Applying to Motor-Driven Cycles But Not Autocycles

Existing law requires motor-driven cycle operators under age 18 to wear motorcycle helmets. The act requires motor-driven cycle passengers under age 18 to do so. Failure to wear a helmet is an infraction punishable by a fine of at least $90.

By law, a motor-driven cycle is any of the following with a seat at least 26 inches high and a motor displacing less than 50 cubic centimeters: a (1) motorcycle, (2) motor scooter, or (3) bicycle with attached motor.

Existing law, unchanged by the act, requires motorcycle operators and passengers under age 18 to wear helmets. The act specifies that an autocycle is not considered a motorcycle for the purposes of the helmet law or the law on the operation of motor-driven cycles.

THREE-WHEELED MOTORCYCLE ENDORSEMENT AND TESTING

By law, motorcycle operators must pass an authorized novice motorcycle training course conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT) or a firm or organization using a DOT-approved curriculum, such as one offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Under the act, anyone wanting to drive a three-wheeled motorcycle must take a three-wheeled motorcycle training course offered by DOT or a firm or organization using a DOT-approved curriculum. An individual who successfully completes such a course will receive a restricted “M” endorsement that allows him or her to drive three-wheeled, but not two-wheeled, motorcycles. (As noted above, a motorcycle endorsement is not required to operate an autocycle. )

SALES AND USE TAX

By law, the sale or use of certain commercial motor vehicles (large buses) that operate under laws governing interstate buses is exempt from the sales and use tax for one year from purchase if 75% of the vehicle's revenue is derived from trips out-of-state or crossing state lines. The act also exempts commercial motor vehicles carrying (1) hazardous material for which federal law requires they carry placards (49 CFR Part 172 Subpart F) or (2) federally listed agents or toxins (42 CFR Part 73). (PA 15-5, June Special Session, 225, repeals this provision. )

BACKGROUND

Passenger Restrictions for Drivers Age 16 or 17

By law, for the first six months after obtaining a license, a driver age 16 or 17 may not have as a passenger anyone other than (1) his or her parents or legal guardian, at least one of whom has a driver's license, or (2) one passenger who is a (a) licensed driving instructor or (b) person age 20 or older who has held a license for at least four years without it being suspended in that time. For the period between six months and one year after a 16- or 17-year-old receives a license, he or she may also carry immediate family members as passengers. A violation is an infraction. DMV also must suspend a violator's license for a (1) first violation, 30 days and (2) second violation, six months or until the driver turns 18, whichever is longer (CGS 14-36g).

Odometers and Odometer Tampering

By law, police must issue a warning to anyone who operates a motor vehicle without a properly functioning odometer (CGS 14-103 (c)). Anyone who removes or tampers with an odometer or installs a device that causes the odometer to register a false mileage reading commits a class A misdemeanor (see Table on Penalties) and is also liable for (1) triple damages or $1,500, whichever is greater, (2) court costs, (3) reasonable attorney's fees, and (4) a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation. A violation is also an unfair trade practice (CGS 14-106b).

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