PA 17-79—sSB 850

Transportation Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING RECOMMENDATIONS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES REGARDING INSURANCE POLICIES FOR CERTAIN VEHICLES, YOUTH INSTRUCTION PERMITS, OPERATOR LICENSES, COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATION, ADMINISTRATIVE FEES, DIVERSION PROGRAM, STUDENT TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES, ABANDONED MOTOR VEHICLES, HARTFORD WHALER LICENSE PLATES AND OTHER CHANGES TO THE MOTOR VEHICLE STATUTES

1 — INSURANCE POLICIES FOR CERTAIN PASSENGER TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES

Prohibits entities from issuing insurance or bonds for certain passenger vehicles that do not meet the law's minimum requirements

2 — YOUTH INSTRUCTION PERMIT EXPIRATION

Eliminates the requirement that a youth instruction permit expire when the holder turns 18

3, 7, 14 & 24-27 — TECHNICAL CHANGES

Makes technical changes to the motor vehicle statutes.

4 — High School MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY COURSE

Eliminates a requirement that DMV prepare a course of study for motor vehicle courses in high schools

5 — LICENSE AND REGISTRATION TRANSACTIONS BY MUNICIPALITIES

Specifies that municipalities may charge a $5 convenience fee for processing DMV transactions

6 — LICENSE RENEWAL BY ACTIVE DUTY ARMED SERVICE MEMBERS

Modifies the length of time for which an armed service member's license is valid after returning from active duty

8 — COMMERCIAL DRIVER'S LICENSE (CDL) DISQUALIFICATION FOR TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS

Specifies when a person convicted of serious moving violations must be suspended from operating a commercial vehicle

9 & 10 — PROOF OF DEALER BOND RENEWAL

Increases the fine for dealers and repairers who do not submit proof of policy or bond renewal by the deadline

11 — VOLKSWAGEN SETTLEMENT PROVISION

Prohibits DMV from revoking a vehicle's registration if it is subject to certain settlements

12 —TITLE APPLICATIONS

Allows title applications to be filled out by the owner or automatically populated using information from DMV's databases

13 — IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES (IID)

Makes a minor change regarding IID laws

15 — DIVERSION PROGRAMS FOR PEOPLE UNDER AGE 21

Prohibits CDL holders or those who commit certain violations from participating in a diversionary program for people under age 21

16 — COMMUNITY-BASED TRANSITION PROGRAM SIGNS AND SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES (STV)

Eliminates, under certain circumstances, the requirement that STVs display “carrying school children” signs

17-20 — ABANDONED VEHICLES

Modifies the process by which garage owners may sell unclaimed vehicles towed to and stored by them

21 — HARTFORD WHALER'S LICENSE PLATES

Requires the DMV commissioner to issue Hartford Whalers commemorative license plates to support the Connecticut Children's Medical Center

22 — REGISTRATION AND PARKING ON HIGHWAYS

Prohibits a person from parking a vehicle on a highway unless it is properly registered with the commissioner

23 — PLACARDS FOR VETERANS WITH POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)

Allows applicants to provide certification from specified psychiatrists in order to receive a windshield placard

SUMMARY: This act makes a number of changes in the motor vehicle statutes, including:

1. making several changes in laws affecting how garage owners may sell unclaimed vehicles towed to and stored by them ( 17-20),

2. prohibiting the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) from revoking the registration of vehicles subject to the Volkswagen settlement ( 11),

3. making commercial driver's license (CDL) holders and people convicted of using a handheld cellphone or electronic device while driving ineligible to participate in a diversionary program for young drivers ( 15),

4. making the display of a “carrying school children” sign optional for student transportation vehicles (STVs) carrying certain school children participating in transitional programs ( 16),

5. changing the period of time that youth instruction permits and certain armed forces members' driver's licenses are valid ( 2 & 6),

6. creating Hartford Whalers commemorative license plates ( 21), and

7. prohibiting people from parking an improperly registered vehicle on a highway ( 22).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017, unless otherwise noted below.

1 — INSURANCE POLICIES FOR CERTAIN PASSENGER TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES

Prohibits entities from issuing insurance or bonds for certain passenger vehicles that do not meet the law's minimum requirements

The act prohibits entities from issuing insurance policies or indemnity bonds for motor buses, taxis, livery vehicles, STVs, or service buses that do not meet the law's minimum coverage requirements. It allows DMV, when registering these vehicles, to presume that an issued policy or bond meets those coverage requirements.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

2 — YOUTH INSTRUCTION PERMIT EXPIRATION

Eliminates the requirement that a youth instruction permit expire when the holder turns 18

Under prior law, a youth instruction permit expired (1) two years after it was issued, (2) on the day the holder received a driver's license, or (3) on the day the holder turned age 18, whichever was earliest. Under the act, an instruction permit no longer expires when the holder turns age 18. Instead, a holder retains the permit until it expires under (1) or (2), whichever is earlier.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

3, 7, 14 & 24-27 — TECHNICAL CHANGES

Makes technical changes to the motor vehicle statutes.

The act makes technical changes to the motor vehicle statutes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017, except for changes to the endorsement-related statutes, which are effective upon passage.

4 — HIGH SCHOOL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY COURSE

Eliminates a requirement that DMV prepare a course of study for motor vehicle courses in high schools

The law allows local and regional school boards to provide a high school motor vehicle operation and safety class that meets the law's requirements. The act eliminates a requirement that DMV prepare a course of study for use in these classes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

5 — LICENSE AND REGISTRATION TRANSACTIONS BY MUNICIPALITIES

Specifies that municipalities may charge a $5 convenience fee for processing DMV transactions

By law, the DMV commissioner may authorize a contractor or a municipality to process certain DMV transactions, such as license renewals and registration transactions. Existing law allows contractors to charge a processing fee of up to $5 per transaction. The act specifies that municipalities may also charge this fee.

6 — LICENSE RENEWAL BY ACTIVE DUTY ARMED SERVICE MEMBERS

Modifies the length of time for which an armed service member's license is valid after returning from active duty

The act extends the length of time a state driver's license held by an armed services member on active duty out-of-state remains valid. Under prior law, such a license was valid, with certain exceptions, for 30 days after the date the holder (1) was honorably separated from the service or (2) returned to the state. Under the act, such a license is instead valid for 60 days after the holder is honorably separated from the service, regardless of when he or she returns to the state.

8 — COMMERCIAL DRIVER'S LICENSE (CDL) DISQUALIFICATION FOR TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS

Specifies when a person convicted of serious moving violations must be suspended from operating a commercial vehicle

The act specifies when DMV must suspend a person convicted of multiple serious moving violations from operating a commercial vehicle, in order to comply with federal law. Under existing law, a person is temporarily disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for 60 days if convicted of two serious traffic violations or 120 days if convicted of three serious traffic violations, arising from separate incidents occurring within a three-year period. The act specifies that the suspension applies if these violations were committed (1) while operating a commercial motor vehicle; (2) while operating a noncommercial vehicle, if the violation resulted in a person's class D license being suspended for any period of time; or (3) any combination of (1) and (2).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

9 & 10 — PROOF OF DEALER BOND RENEWAL

Increases the fine for dealers and repairers who do not submit proof of policy or bond renewal by the deadline

By law, car dealers and repairers must maintain cash or surety bonds and insurance for their vehicles in certain amounts specified by law. The act increases, from $50 to $200, the fine for failing to provide proof of policy or bond renewal before the existing policy or bond expires.

11 — VOLKSWAGEN SETTLEMENT PROVISION

Prohibits DMV from revoking a vehicle's registration if it is subject to certain settlements

The act prohibits DMV from revoking a vehicle's registration if it is subject to any consent decree approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on October 25, 2016, to settle a case entitled In Re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation. States must implement this provision to receive funds from the Environmental Mitigation Trust that is part of the settlement.

12 —TITLE APPLICATIONS

Allows title applications to be filled out by the owner or automatically populated using information from DMV's databases

The act allows applications for certificates of title to be filled out by the vehicle owner or automatically populated using information from DMV's databases. Prior law required the vehicle owner to complete the application.

13 — IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES (IID)

Makes a minor change regarding IID laws

Prior law prohibited a person required by DMV or a court to use an IID from (1) asking someone else to blow into the IID or (2) driving a vehicle that did not have an IID or that the court had ordered the person not to operate. It also prohibited a person from tampering with, altering, or bypassing the IID. The act specifies that these prohibitions apply to anyone whose right to operate a motor vehicle is restricted by any law requiring the use of IIDs.

15 — DIVERSION PROGRAMS FOR PEOPLE UNDER AGE 21

Prohibits CDL holders or those who commit certain violations from participating in a diversionary program for people under age 21

By law, a court may require a person under age 21 who has been convicted of certain alcohol-related or traffic offenses to attend a diversionary program, completion of which results in dismissal of the charges against him or her.

Under the act, the program is not available to anyone (1) charged with using a handheld cellphone or electronic device while driving or (2) who, at the time of the violation, held a CDL or commercial driver's instruction permit or was operating a commercial motor vehicle. These changes are required in order to receive federal grants and comply with federal law.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

16 — COMMUNITY-BASED TRANSITION PROGRAM SIGNS AND SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES (STV)

Eliminates, under certain circumstances, the requirement that STVs display “carrying school children” signs

By law, STVs must display a sign that reads “Carrying School Children” and meets certain specifications when transporting school children to or from school or school activities. The act exempts from this requirement any STV that transports students who are between ages 18 and 21 and participating in community-based transition services as part of an individualized education program. STVs are any vehicle, other than a school bus, used to transport students (i.e., anyone under age 21 who is attending school) to or from school, school programs, or school-sponsored events.

17-20 — ABANDONED VEHICLES

Modifies the process by which garage owners may sell unclaimed vehicles towed to and stored by them

The act makes several changes in laws affecting how garage owners (garages) may sell unclaimed vehicles towed to and stored by them. The act affects unclaimed vehicles that are (1) abandoned, (2) illegally parked and towed from private property, or (3) rendered immovable by a wheel-locking device (booted). By law, garages may sell such vehicles valued at (1) $1,500 or less after 15 days and (2) more than $1,500 after 45 days. Among other things, the act does the following:

1. requires that garages receive an “affidavit of compliance” from the DMV and provide it to the purchaser at the time of sale;

2. requires garages storing vehicles valued at $1,500 or less to notify vehicle owners and lienholders within the 15-day period of their intent to sell the vehicle rather than requiring them to send notice five days before the intended sale;

3. requires garages storing vehicles valued at more than $1,500 to notify vehicle owners and lienholders within the 45-day period of their intent to sell rather than requiring them to send notice at least five days before the intended sale;

4. generally allows the DMV commissioner to limit the number of days for which a garage can charge for storage beyond (a) 30 days for vehicles valued at $1,500 or less or (b) 60 days for vehicles valued at more than $1,500;

5. sets a minimum time period of five business days, rather than five calendar days, after which a vehicle may be sold after notice is sent; and

6. establishes a $10 fee for certain documents and increases the fee for other documents from $5 to $10.

The act requires, rather than allows, the commissioner to adopt regulations (1) specifying the circumstances in which a campground owner may dispose of a motor home or recreational vehicle abandoned on his or her property and (2) establishing procedures governing the disposal.

It also makes minor and conforming changes.

Storage and Sale of Abandoned and Unregistered Vehicles

By law, a vehicle is considered abandoned if left on a highway or another person's property without that person's consent for more than 24 hours. A police officer, parking authority, or DMV inspector, on finding an apparently abandoned vehicle, or one lacking proper registration, must place on it a sticker notifying the owner that the vehicle will be towed and stored at the owner's expense if not removed within 24 hours.

Under existing law, within 48 hours of the time a vehicle is stored the police or parking authority must notify, in writing, the vehicle's owner and any lienholder that (1) the vehicle is being stored and its location, (2) it may be sold, and (3) the owner may request a hearing. By law, this notice must be sent by certified mail. The act requires that it also be sent return receipt requested.

Unless a vehicle owner has requested a hearing, existing law allows a garage to sell vehicles valued at (1) $1,500 or less after a minimum of 15 days' storage and (2) more than $1,500 after 45 days. The act makes the 45-day storage period a minimum for vehicles valued at more than $1,500.

Notice of Intent to Sell. Under the act, unless an owner has requested a hearing, the garage must, within the minimum 15-day and 45-day storage periods, notify the following people of its intent to sell the vehicle: the DMV commissioner, the vehicle owner, and any known lienholder. Prior law required the garage to notify the owner of a pending sale five days before it was to take place for vehicles valued at $1,500 or less and at least five days before it was to take place for vehicles valued at more than $1,500.

The notice of intent to sell must contain the following information: (1) the vehicle's make, model, vehicle identification number, and its registration number, if available, and (2) the date the vehicle was placed in storage and by whom.

The commissioner must place the notice on file and make it available for public inspection.

The act requires that the notice of intent to sell that the garage sends to the owner and lienholder be accompanied by a statement indicating the manner of the sale, as required by law and the act, and its date, time, and place. The garage must send the notice and accompanying statement by certified mail, return receipt requested. The statement must also inform the vehicle owner that he or she has one year from the date of the sale to claim any proceeds in excess of the garage's charges and obligations.

Under the act, there is a $10 fee to file the notice and accompanying statement. A sale made without the garage giving proper notice is void. Under the act, a garage can sell a vehicle no sooner than five business days after it mails the notice of intent to sell, and it must apply the sale proceeds to its towing and storage charges.

The act eliminates a requirement that a garage notify DMV about abandoned motor vehicles within 40 days of the date they were placed in storage if the vehicle was not claimed within 30 days of that date.

Affidavit of Compliance. The act requires the DMV commissioner to issue the garage an affidavit of compliance on approving the notice of intent to sell. The garage must provide this document to the vehicle's purchaser at the time of sale.

Limitation on Storage Charges. Under the act, the commissioner may generally limit the number of days for which a garage may charge for storage to 30 days for vehicles valued at $1,500 or less and to 60 days for vehicles valued at more than $1,500. The time periods begin immediately following the date the vehicle was placed in storage. But the garage may charge for additional storage days if it provides the commissioner with evidence that charges for additional days accrued because the garage relied on statements or representations made by the vehicle owner or lienholder, or as a result of the garage's good faith effort to negotiate the vehicle's return to the owner or lienholder.

Certain Vehicles Worth $500 or Less. Existing law requires that title of certain abandoned vehicles vest in the town where the vehicle was abandoned. The municipality's police department or parking authority must notify DMV within 48 hours of taking such a vehicle into custody. The act requires the department or authority to immediately thereafter sell or transfer such vehicles to a licensed motor vehicle recycler (see BACKGROUND). This requirement applies to vehicles with invalid or missing license plates that a police officer or parking authority inspector believes to (1) be abandoned; (2) have a market value of $500 or less; and (3) be so vandalized, damaged, or in such disrepair as to be unusable. By law, the department or parking authority must send written notice by certified mail informing the vehicle owner of its sale or other disposition. The act requires that such notice also be sent return receipt requested.

Self-Storage Facilities. The act increases, from $5 to $10, the fee that owners of self-storage facilities must pay to DMV when seeking the existence and identity of any lienholder, and the name and address of the owner, of a vehicle abandoned in such a facility.

Bailees. The act also increases, from $5 to $10, the fee paid to DMV by a bailee of a motor vehicle (e.g., someone owed money for repairing a vehicle) who intends to sell a vehicle on which he or she has a lien. It specifies that the written notice sent to DMV is a written notice of intent to sell.

Upon approving the notice, DMV must issue the bailee an affidavit of compliance. The bailee must provide the affidavit to a purchaser at the time of sale.

EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2018

21 — HARTFORD WHALER'S LICENSE PLATES

Requires the DMV commissioner to issue Hartford Whalers commemorative license plates to support the Connecticut Children's Medical Center

Beginning January 1, 2018, the act requires the DMV commissioner to issue Hartford Whalers license plates, in a design determined by the commissioner, to commemorate the Hartford Whalers and provide funding for the Connecticut Children's Medical Center. The act prohibits using the plates for purposes other than official registration marker plates. It also allows the DMV commissioner to issue regulations establishing standards and procedures for issuing, renewing, and replacing these plates.

Fees

The act requires DMV to charge a $60 fee, in addition to all other registration fees, for Hartford Whalers plates. Of this fee, $15 goes to DMV to cover production, issuance, renewal, and replacement costs of the plates, and $45 must be deposited in the Hartford Whaler's commemorative account the act establishes. The plates must have numbers and letters selected by DMV, but the commissioner may charge a higher fee, in addition to the fees prescribed for such registrations by law, for license plates that (1) contain the numbers and letters from a previously-issued plate, (2) contain letters in place of numbers, and (3) are low number plates. No additional fee may be charged for renewing these plates or transferring an existing registration to or from a Hartford Whalers plate.

All fees collected pursuant to the act, other than the money designated for DMV costs, must be deposited in the Hartford Whalers commemorative account.

Hartford Whalers Commemorative Account

The act creates a “Hartford Whalers commemorative account” as a separate, nonlapsing account within the General Fund. The account must contain money the law requires to be deposited in it, and money in the account must be spent by the Office of Policy and Management secretary to provide funding to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center. The secretary may also accept private donations for deposit into the account.

The DMV commissioner may also provide for the reproduction and marketing of the Hartford Whalers license plate image for use on clothing, recreational equipment, posters, mementos, or other products or programs he deems suitable to support the account. Any money he receives from doing so must be deposited in the account.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

22 — REGISTRATION AND PARKING ON HIGHWAYS

Prohibits a person from parking a vehicle on a highway unless it is properly registered with the commissioner

Existing law generally prohibits a person from operating or towing a motor vehicle on a highway unless it is properly registered with DMV. The act additionally prohibits a person from parking an improperly registered vehicle on a highway.

Under existing law, a person who establishes residency in the state has a 60-day grace period during which he or she may operate a vehicle registered out-of-state without registering it with DMV. The act additionally allows such a person to park in a parking area during the grace period.

Under the act, (1) a person who parks an unregistered vehicle as prohibited commits an infraction and (2) a state resident who parks a vehicle he or she owns with an out-of-state license plate after the grace period faces a $1,000 fine. The same penalties apply under existing law to people who operate or allow the operation of unregistered or improperly registered vehicles.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

23 — PLACARDS FOR VETERANS WITH POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)

Allows applicants to provide certification from specified psychiatrists in order to receive a windshield placard

Under existing law, an applicant for a removable windshield placard for people with disabilities must submit, with their application, certification from a licensed physician, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner that the person meets the federal definition of a person with a disability that limits or impairs the ability to walk.

Under the act, an applicant has an additional option that allows him or her to provide certification from a psychiatrist under contract or employed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that the applicant (1) is a veteran, as defined by state law, who has PTSD certified by the VA as service-connected and (2) meets the federal definition of a person with a disability that limits or impairs the ability to walk.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

BACKGROUND

Motor Vehicle Recycler Business or Yard

A motor vehicle recycler business or yard is one storing (1) at least two unregistered motor vehicles no longer intended, or in condition, for legal highway use or (2) used motor vehicle parts or scrap iron, metal, glass, paper, cordage, or other waste or discarded second-hand material that was a part, or intended to be a part, of a motor vehicle, the total of which is equal to at least two motor vehicles. It also is any place where vehicles are taken to be dismantled for parts or scrap (CGS 14-67g).