PA 08-150—sSB 298

Transportation Committee

Judiciary Committee

Public Safety and Security Committee

Appropriations Committee

Environment Committee

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES

SUMMARY: This act:

1. makes it a misdemeanor to sell or disclose personal information from motor vehicle records for an unauthorized purpose and clarifies a related provision of the law;

2. makes several changes to PA 08-32, An Act Concerning Teenage Drivers, that clarify certain provisions of that law;

3. imposes motor vehicle ignition interlock requirements on anyone convicted of second-degree assault or second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, and makes other changes related to the imposition of motor vehicle ignition interlock requirements;

4. includes DMV inspectors designated by the commissioner to enforce motor vehicle laws under several laws covering, among other things, the use of physical force or deadly force when making an arrest, resisting arrest, hindering an arrest, and assault on a public safety officer;

5. requires anyone applying for a Connecticut driver's license who has not previously been licensed in Connecticut or elsewhere to take an eight-hour course on safe driving practices as a prerequisite to licensure;

6. expands and revises requirements for scrap metal processors receiving certain loads of scrap metal, imposes requirements on junk dealers and junk yard owners receiving certain types of metal goods, including beer kegs, and makes violations of the new and revised requirements misdemeanors;

7. requires applicants for auto recycling business licenses to certify that they are in compliance with environmental laws as a prerequisite for licensure, and establishes requirements for notifying the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and refusing licensure or granting conditional licensure if there is reason to believe a facility is not compliant;

8. exempts contracts originated or held by DMV-licensed motor vehicle dealers, repairers, or manufacturers from requirements that a contract provide notice and an acknowledgement by the other party that the contract contains a liquidated damages provision;

9. makes escort car drivers independent contractors, rather than employees, for purposes of unemployment compensation law, if they meet certain conditions;

10. allows DMV to extend the expiration dates of licenses, registrations, and other credentials under certain emergency or other circumstances;

11. creates a new special “Support Our Troops!” license plate and another to provide funding for nursing education and training programs;

12. eliminates the requirement that an antique, rare, or special interest motor vehicle must be registered in order for it to qualify for the maximum assessment of $500 for property tax purposes;

13. exempts from state maximum width and length laws and the prohibition on towing more than two trailers vehicles used by the state or a municipality exclusively for removing leaves or other organic materials from a highway or road, as long as the operator is properly qualified to operate the combination of vehicles; and

14. applies the same penalty for failing to grant the right-of-way to a blind person as applies for failing to yield to a pedestrian using a crosswalk.

The act makes numerous changes to other motor vehicle laws. Specifically, it:

1. requires that the model year specified for a modified antique motor vehicle be the model year that the vehicle's body most closely resembles ( 5);

2. requires DMV to keep an updated copy of the International Registration Plan at its main office to be made available for public inspection ( 6);

3. extends to commercial driving schools DMV regulations that previously applied only to secondary school driver education programs that require a teaching segment on the purposes and procedures of organ procurement organizations ( 8);

4. modifies requirements for qualification for licensure as a driving instructor to include status with respect to the state child abuse and neglect registry and other factors;

5. allows the commissioner to waive the fee for a set of replacement plates to someone who produces a police report indicating that the plates were stolen or mutilated regardless of the reason they were stolen or mutilated ( 9);

6. expands the types of permissible video displays in motor vehicles that can be seen by the driver;

7. allows, rather than requires, that exhaust emissions inspections of heavy duty commercial motor vehicles be conducted in concert with vehicle weight and safety inspections and makes other minor changes ( 13);

8. explicitly allows DMV to accept certificates of title issued by Indian tribes that are officially recognized by the U. S. Bureau of Indian Affairs ( 14);

9. exempts municipally owned motor vehicles from DMV motor vehicle title and title-related fees ( 15);

10. specifies that (a) someone learning to drive a commercial motor vehicle under a learner's permit may not drive under instruction if he has been suspended (usually for medical reasons) and (b) the person providing the instruction must have a commercial driver's license of the proper class and with the endorsements necessary for the type of vehicle being driven ( 7);

11. authorizes DMV to establish a system to verify commercial motor vehicle insurance coverage electronically;

12. makes it clear that someone who holds a commercial driver's license can also operate any other vehicles that can be operated with a lower classification non-commercial license ( 20);

13. authorizes the commissioner to allow marine dealers to issue boat trailer registrations through DMV's on line registration system, if the dealers are registered with the DEP commissioner;

14. establishes a procedure for lienholders to release a security interest in a motor vehicle electronically, in addition to written form;

15. incorporates federal standards regarding drug testing procedures for tests required of drivers of school buses and student transportation vehicles (STV) to make it clear what standards must be applied to STV drivers since many of them do not hold commercial driver's licenses ( 23);

16. allows the DMV commissioner to register certain kinds of large agricultural equipment as a “special mobile agriculture vehicle”, establishes requirements for their operation, and exempts them from certain laws;

17. modifies a requirement for providing title certificates for vehicles sold at motor vehicle auctions;

18. increases the term of DMV-issued non-driver photo identification cards from four to six years, proportionately increases the fee from $15 to $22. 50, and permits the commissioner to waive the fee for any applicant who is a resident of a homeless shelter or other facility, and requires the commissioner to adopt implementing regulations ( 30);

19. authorizes the DMV commissioner to waive the fee for any “suppressed” drivers' licenses or registrations he issues (suppressed licenses and registrations are issued to certain law enforcement personnel, usually performing undercover work, under an alias in order to protect their identity)( 40);

20. requires model year 2007 and newer school buses to be equipped with a front bumper-mounted crossing control arm and requires the commissioner to establish additional requirements and standards for these arms by regulation ( 44);

21. allows the DMV commissioner to decline to issue a notice of registration suspension for failure to maintain required insurance coverage if the vehicle's registration is cancelled or if he cannot establish that the violation occurred for a period of more than 14 days ( 42);

22. allows the use of refrigerants in motor vehicle air conditioning that may be toxic or flammable as long as they are designated as safe alternatives under federal environmental regulations;

23. revises laws on mopeds and motor-driven cycles;

24. modifies requirements for holding meetings of the Motor Carrier Advisory Council; and

25. adds several new definitions to the motor vehicle laws, including one defining an unregistered motor vehicle, and modifies others.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008, except (1) the suppressed license and registration fee waiver, Motor Carrier Advisory Council, registration suspension notice discretion, and liquidated damages notification exemption provisions are effective July 1, 2008; (2) the changes to the teen driving law are effective on August 1, 2008; (3) the special mobile agriculture vehicle, escort vehicle drivers, and motor vehicle auction title provisions are effective upon passage; and (4) the non-driver photo identification card provisions are effective January 1, 2009.

3 — DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION FROM DMV RECORDS

The law restricts the availability of personal information contained in DMV records to specific users identified in the law and for explicit purposes. The act makes it a class A misdemeanor (up to a $2,000 fine, up to one year imprisonment, or both) for anyone, including any officer, employee, agent, or contractor of the DMV to sell, transfer, or otherwise disclose any personal or highly restricted personal information obtained from DMV files for any unauthorized purpose. By law, personal information includes someone's photograph or digitized image, Social Security number, license number, name, address other than the zip code, telephone number, or medical or disability information. Highly restricted personal information is under a greater degree of protection from disclosure and includes a picture or digitized image, Social Security number, and medical or disability information.

The act also explicitly prohibits anyone who receives personal or highly restricted personal information from DMV records from reselling or re-disclosing it for a purpose not authorized under the law or reasonably related to such a purpose. Prior law implied this prohibition but did not explicitly state it.

45-48 — CHANGES TO PA 08-32 (TEENAGE DRIVERS)

PA 08-32 establishes several new requirements with respect to 16- and 17-year-olds learning to drive and for the period after they are licensed until they reach age 18. It also revises some existing requirements for them. Among the changes are (1) extension of current restrictions on the number and type of passengers they can carry for the first six months of licensure to the first full year of licensure, (2) beginning the nighttime curfew period for them at 11: 00 p. m. instead of midnight, and (3) a summary 48-hour suspension for any 16- or 17-year-old who commits certain serious traffic offenses or violates the post-licensure restrictions.

This act:

1. makes it clear that the new post-licensure restrictions of PA 08-32 apply to anyone licensed on or after August 1, 2008;

2. keeps anyone who receives a license before August 1, 2008 under the old rather than the new post-license restrictions; and

3. exempts a 16- or 17-year old who has been emancipated in accordance with applicable state law from the requirement that a parent or guardian accompany the youth to recover a driver's license that has been confiscated by police under the 48-hour summary suspension provisions of the new law.

57-60 & 62—MOTOR VEHICLE IGNITION INTERLOCK REQUIREMENTS

New Requirements for Imposition of Use of Ignition Interlock Device

By law, use of an ignition interlock device on all vehicles an offender drives can be part of the sanctions imposed on anyone who has been convicted of a second or third offense of driving while under the influence of alcohol (DWI). For a second conviction, it can be granted, if the person qualifies, to serve in lieu of the second and third years of the mandatory three-year license suspension. For a third conviction, DMV can grant it if the person's petition for license restoration is approved and at least six years of the mandatory permanent revocation has been served. If the commissioner grants the petition, the device must be installed and maintained in the driver's vehicles for 10 years from the date of the revocation.

This act imposes a mandatory use of an ignition interlock device for two years following the one-year license suspension that results from a conviction for (1) second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle or (2) second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, both of which involve driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs as an element of the crime.

Ignition Interlock-Related License or Permit Restriction

The act permits the commissioner to restrict a driver's license or special permit for employment-related driving to operating only ignition interlock-equipped motor vehicles for any of several possible applications of the requirement contained in the law and this act. These include the following situations:

1. after a second DWI conviction and the required suspension has been served;

2. when a court has ordered someone to operate such vehicles as a condition of release on bail, probation, or participation in the pretrial alcohol education system;

3. when granted a reversal or reduction of suspension or revocation after a third DWI conviction;

4. when issued a license upon surrender of a license from another state that contains an interlock restriction;

5. after conviction for second-degree assault or second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle and the required suspension has been served; and

6. when permitted by the commissioner to get or retain a license subject to reporting requirements concerning the person's physical condition as required by the laws regarding review of licensees with medical conditions requiring review.

License Applicants Restricted in Other States

If someone applying for a Connecticut driver's license has a license or operating privilege that has been restricted in another state in a way that the commissioner deems similar to the restrictions imposed by a special operator's permit issued by Connecticut, the act allows the commissioner to issue him a Connecticut driver's license and special operator's permit. The permit must be held by the person for the time the commissioner prescribes.

The act also disqualifies someone from applying for a special employment driving permit following a court-ordered suspension for failure to appear for any court appearance rather than only a failure to appear for trial.

Re-Suspension for Failure to Comply with Interlock Requirements

The act makes anyone whose license has been suspended and subsequently restricted to use of only ignition-interlock-equipped vehicles subject to a re-imposition of the suspension for failure to install and use the device as required. The re-suspension must be for a period of time not to exceed the period of the original suspension.

49-54 — STATUS OF DMV INSPECTORS

By law, the DMV commissioner can designate salaried inspectors to enforce motor vehicle laws anywhere in the state. These designated inspectors undergo training and certification by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council. The act applies to any such DMV inspectors who have been designated for law enforcement duties by the commissioner and certified by the council the laws governing the following:

1. justifiable use of physical or deadly physical force by an officer or a person from whom an officer requests assistance when making an arrest or preventing an escape (CGS 53a-19),

2. prohibiting the use of physical force to resist arrest (CGS 53a-23),

3. assaulting a public safety officer or emergency medical personnel (CGS 53a-167c),

4. interfering with an officer performing duties (CGS 53a-167a), and

5. failing to assist an officer when requested (CGS 53a-167b).

28 — SAFE DRIVING PRACTICES COURSE FOR ALL NEW LICENSEES

By law, every 16- or 17-year-old applying for a driver's license must, among other things, complete an eight-hour course in safe driving practices, the nature and effects of alcohol and drugs on driving, and other things. The act requires anyone applying for a Connecticut license who has not previously been licensed here or in any other state or U. S. territory, regardless of age, to complete a similar course.

55 — REQUIREMENTS FOR SCRAP METAL PROCESSORS

Previously, a scrap metal processor receiving a load of scrap metal had to photograph the vehicle delivering the load, including its license plate, and the load of scrap metal. The act expands the requirements for scrap metal processors and imposes new requirements for them and for junk dealers and junk yard owners. It makes violations of both the current and the new requirements a class C misdemeanor for a first violation, a class B misdemeanor for a second violation, and a class A misdemeanor for a third or subsequent violation. (See Table on Penalties)

Specifically, the act:

1. requires a scrap metal processor, for all loads of scrap metal it purchases or receives, to record the weight of the metal, the price paid for it, and the identity of the person who delivered it;

2. limits the requirement for photographing the load only to loads of scrap metal that include wire that could be used for telecommunications or data transmission; and

3. requires the processor for a load of scrap metal that includes wire that could be used to transmit telecommunications or data to copy the vehicle's registration certificate in addition to photographing the delivery vehicle, its license plate, and the load.

In addition the act:

1. requires a scrap metal processor, junk dealer, or junk yard owner or operator to immediately notify the law enforcement authority in the municipality of the name, if known, and the license plate number, if available, of anyone offering to sell them a bronze statue, plaque, historical marker, cannon, cannon ball, bell, lamp, lighting fixture, lamp post, architectural artifact, or similar item;

2. prohibits any of them from purchasing or receiving a stainless steel or aluminum alloy beer or other beverage keg if it is marked with an indicia of ownership of anyone other than the person or entity presenting it for sale; and

3. gives a scrap metal processor who purchases scrap metal that is subsequently determined to have been stolen and returned to its owner a cause of action against the person from whom the metal was purchased.

For purposes of the requirement regarding beer or beverage kegs, the act defines “indicia of ownership” as words, symbols, or a registered trademark printed, stamped, etched, attached, or otherwise displayed on the container that identifies its owner.

10 — MOTOR VEHICLE RECYCLING BUSINESSES

The act requires an applicant for DMV licensure as a motor vehicle recycler to certify, to the best of his knowledge and belief, that all of the property used for operating the business complies with all applicable environmental laws and regulations under the DEP commissioner's jurisdiction. It requires the DMV commissioner to notify the DEP commissioner once he receives the application and certification. The notification must include the property's location and legal description.

The act requires the DEP commissioner to tell the DMV commissioner within 45 days of receiving the required notification if there is any reason to believe that the property proposed for licensure is not in compliance. If the DMV commissioner is informed of such noncompliance, he may refuse to issue the license or issue it with conditions acceptable to the DEP commissioner, including remediation of conditions causing the suspected violations.

61 — CONTRACTS CONTAINING LIQUIDATED DAMAGES PROVISIONS

PA 07-210 prohibits any contract to purchase or lease goods or services entered into, renewed, or extended on or after July 1, 2008 primarily for personal, family, or household purposes that provides for the payment of liquidated damages in the event of a breach from being enforceable unless:

1. the contract contains a statement in boldface type at least 12 points in size immediately following the provision stating “I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THIS CONTRACT CONTAINS A LIQUIDATED DAMAGES PROVISION” and

2. the person against whom the provision will be enforced signs his name or initials next to the statement.

The requirement does not apply to (1) contracts between a consumer agency and an agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state; (2) negotiable instruments; or (3) contract provisions for late fees, prepayment penalties, or default interest rates.

The act extends this same exemption to contracts originated or held by a person, firm, or corporation licensed by DMV as a motor vehicle dealer, repairer, or manufacturer.

43 — ESCORT VEHICLE DRIVERS

This act generally makes escort car drivers independent contractors, rather than employees, for purposes of unemployment compensation law, if they meet the act's conditions. These drivers, under permit from the Department of Transportation (DOT), accompany oversized or overweight vehicles on state highways. As independent contractors they are not eligible for unemployment compensation benefits and the entity that hires them is not required to pay unemployment taxes on the drivers' pay.

The act removes escort vehicle drivers from the definition of employee under the unemployment compensation law if they:

1. are engaged in the business or trade of providing such escort motor vehicle;

2. are, and were, free from control and direction by any other business or other person in connection with the actual performance of such services;

3. own their own vehicle and statutorily required equipment and exclusively employ this equipment in providing such services; and

4. are treated as independent contractors for all purposes, including federal and state taxation, workers' compensation, choice of hours worked, and choosing to accept referrals from multiple entities without consequence.

By law, to be considered an independent contractor a person must:

1. be free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under his or her contract of hire and in fact;

2. perform the service either outside the usual course of business of the employer or outside of all the employer's places of business; and

3. be customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business of the same nature as the service performed.

18 — EXTENSION OF EXPIRATION OF DMV CREDENTIALS

The act authorizes the DMV commissioner to extend the expiration date or period of validity of any registration, license, permit, certificate, or other form or credential he issues (1) in the event of an emergency declared under applicable state law or (2) if the DMV office is closed or unable to perform transactions with the public in an effective or secure manner. The act requires the governor's approval for the commissioner to exercise this authority. If he exercises this authority, the commissioner must take any actions that are necessary or appropriate to inform the public and law enforcement agencies of the extensions.

24 & 25 — SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES

“Support Our Troops!” License Plate

The act establishes a “Support Our Troops!” license plate, beginning January 1, 2009, for purpose of expressing support for our troops. The plate must bear the words “Support Our Troops!” and the image adopted by the national association, Support Our Troops, Inc. The commissioner may adopt regulations governing the plates issuance, renewal, and replacement.

A $60 fee must be charged for the plates, in addition to any other regular fee required for registration. The DMV may retain $15 of this fee for producing, issuing, renewing, and replacing the plates. The other $45 must be deposited in an account to be used by Support Our Troops, Inc. for specified purposes. No additional fee may be collected for renewal except for the normal registration renewal fee, nor may a fee be charged for transferring from an existing registration to the new plate. The commissioner may establish a higher fee for Support Our Troops! plates that (1) contain letters and numbers from a previously issued license plate, (2) contain letters in place of numbers (so-called “vanity” plates), or (3) are low-number plates designated by statute.

The act establishes a Support Our Troops! commemorative account as a separate nonlapsing General Fund account. The money deposited in the account must be used by Support Our Troops, Inc. for programs to assist troops, their families, and veterans. The organization may also receive private donations to the account. Funds in the account must be distributed to the organization by the Office of Policy and Management on a quarterly basis.

Nursing Plates

The act also requires issuance of a second special plate beginning January 1, 2009, with a design determined by the Connecticut Nurses Foundation, with DMV approval. The purpose of the special nursing plate is to express support for the nursing profession, raise awareness of the nursing shortage, and provide scholarships for nursing education and training.

The fees and other requirements for issuing the nursing plates are the same as for the Support Our Troops! plates. The act establishes another General Fund account to receive the $45 portion of the $60 fee not retained by DMV. The fund may also receive private donations. The Connecticut Nurses Foundation must use the money in the nursing commemorative account to provide scholarships for nursing education and training.

56 — PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS FOR ANTIQUE, RARE, OR SPECIAL INTEREST VEHICLES

Previously, the property tax assessment of any motor vehicle that has been registered by DMV as an antique, rare, or special-interest motor vehicle must be capped at no more than $500. The act eliminates the requirement that the vehicle must be registered for the cap to apply. By law, an antique, rare, or special-interest motor vehicle is defined as any motor vehicle that is 20 years old or older which has been preserved because of historic interest and which is not altered or modified from the original manufacturer's specifications.

39 — EXEMPTIONS FOR LEAF TRAILERS

The act exempts certain vehicles used exclusively by the state, a municipality, or an agent or contractor of either, to remove leaves or similar organic material from any highway from laws: (1) establishing the maximum length and width of a vehicle that may use a highway without a special DOT permit; (2) regulating the towing or pushing of vehicles on the highway, including the prohibition on towing more than two trailers behind a motor vehicle; and (3) establishing special requirements for anyone operating a vehicle pulling tandem trailers. The exemptions apply as long as the vehicle combination is operated by someone who holds a commercial driver's license with a “T” endorsement, which permits the operation of vehicles with up to three trailing, non-power units.

32 — RIGHT OF WAY FOR A BLIND PERSON

Under prior law, only a person who is wholly or partially blind could carry a cane that is white or white tipped with red on the street or other public place. A driver approaching or coming near to someone carrying such a cane, or being guided by a dog, had to slow down and stop if necessary to give the person the right of way. Violations of the law could result in a fine of up to $100. The courts established the actual fine to be levied at $50.

The act repeals this law and, instead, incorporates it into the statute that establishes a driver's responsibility to yield to pedestrians using a crosswalk. By incorporation into this law, the act makes violations of requirements with respect to a blind pedestrian with a cane or guide dog infractions subject to a fine of $90. Because of mandatory surcharges, fees, and other assessments, the total amount due for such violations would be $181. The recodification means that revenues generated from these violations go to the Special Transportation Fund instead of the General Fund.

11 — PRE-LICENSURE CHECKS FOR DRIVING INSTRUCTORS

Prior law required an applicant for licensure as a driving instructor to provide DMV with satisfactory evidence of good moral character and that he had never been convicted of a crime involving “moral turpitude. ” The act eliminates the latter requirement. Instead, it requires that the applicant submit evidence that he is of good moral character considering his criminal record and record, if any, on the state child abuse and neglect registry. It also requires that the applicant have no record of a conviction for a drug or alcohol-related offense in the four years prior to application.

12 — VIDEO DISPLAYS IN MOTOR VEHICLES

Under prior law, a television screen or similar video display was prohibited in a motor vehicle where it could be seen by the driver except if it was for instrumentation purposes or was a closed video monitor used for backing with the monitor disabled within 15 seconds of the vehicle being shifted out of reverse. The act changes this latter exemption and, instead, exempts any:

1. closed video monitor used for backing or parking,

2. video display unit or device that can only be operated when the vehicle is stationary and is automatically disabled when the vehicle's wheels are in motion, or

3. video display unit or device that is used to enhance or supplement the driver's view of the area immediately surrounding the vehicle to assist in low-speed maneuvering around obstructions at not more than 10 miles per hour.

19 — ELECTRONIC VERIFICATION OF INSURANCE COVERAGE

The act allows the DMV commissioner to establish a system to verify that a motor carrier has the insurance or other security coverage required by law through an electronic communications process. If the commissioner uses this system to inquire of an insurance company or any data source maintained by the U. S. Department of Transportation, he may accept the results in lieu of an actual filing of coverage by the commercial vehicle owner as required by law.

21 — ON-LINE REGISTRATION OF TRAILERS BY MARINE DEALERS

The act authorizes the DMV commissioner to allow any marine dealer registered with the DEP commissioner to (1) sell trailers required to be registered under the motor vehicle laws, (2) issue temporary registrations, and (3) submit applications for permanent registrations through the DMV's online registration system as long as the dealer meets DMV requirements for participation in that system.

22 — ELECTRONIC RELEASE OF SECURITY INTEREST

By law, a lienholder with a security interest in a motor vehicle must notify the DMV commissioner within 10 days after the security interest has been satisfied. The act allows the commissioner to develop a process for electronic transmission of these security interest releases. It requires a lienholder to execute release of the security interest and either mail, deliver, or transmit it electronically to the next lienholder or, if there is none, to the vehicle owner or to any person who delivers or electronically transmits to the lienholder an authorization from the owner to receive a certificate of title. The release still must be provided within 10 days and must contain the information the commissioner prescribes.

26 & 27 — REGISTRATION OF SPECIAL MOBILE AGRICULTURAL VEHICLE

The act allows the commissioner to register certain types of agricultural equipment as a “special mobile agriculture vehicle. ” It defines this as a vehicle with an operator and agriculture support materials operated incidentally on or across a public highway in conjunction with the commercial agriculture support operation. This operation is limited to services provided by a commercial entity to the agriculture industry for spreading or spraying materials to promote crop growth. It allows the commissioner to charge an annual registration fee of $400 for such a vehicle.

A special mobile agriculture vehicle must display a registration plate on the rear. The commissioner may issue any limitation on its operation deemed necessary for its safe operation, but the act requires that its operation on a highway be restricted (1) to or from its place of storage, (2) to or from an agricultural location, or (3) from one agricultural location to another. The act also prohibits such vehicles from being operated on a highway during any time that headlights must be displayed. (By law, this is (1) from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise, (2) whenever there is insufficient light or unfavorable atmospheric conditions such that people or vehicles cannot be clearly discerned at a distance of 500 feet, or (3) during any period of precipitation, including rain, snow, or fog. )

The act exempts these vehicles from the equipment requirements that otherwise apply to registered motor vehicles and from the law establishing the maximum width and length of a vehicle using a highway without a special DOT permit. It authorizes the commissioner to make such a vehicle undergo an inspection prior to registration and at other times he deems necessary for its safe operation.

29 — TITLES FOR VEHICLES SOLD AT AUCTION

The law prohibits any person, firm, or corporation from selling a motor vehicle at a public or private auction without furnishing the buyer, at the time of sale, a valid title certificate, assignment and warranty of title, or other evidence of title issued by another state or country disclosing the existence of any lien, security interest, or other encumbrance on the vehicle.

Notwithstanding this prohibition, the act allows a licensed new or used car dealer with a DMV auction permit to sell a vehicle at a wholesale dealer auction on the condition that the dealer will present a duly assigned title certificate to the purchaser within 14 days of the sale. If a dealer fails to present the title in this period, the act gives the purchaser the option of voiding the purchase. To do so, the purchaser must notify the dealer that he is exercising his option to void no more than two business days after expiration of the 14-day period. Once notification is received, the seller must refund the purchase price and is responsible for paying the purchaser's round-trip transportation costs as evidenced by invoices or payment receipts.

31 — MOTOR VEHICLE AIR CONDITIONING REFRIGERANTS

Prior law prohibited motor vehicle air conditioning equipment from containing any refrigerant that is toxic to people or flammable. The act modifies this prohibition to allow use of refrigerants listed by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a safe alternative motor vehicle air conditioning substitute for chlorofluorocarbon-12. Under federal law, the EPA has been given authority to develop the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program to review alternatives to ozone-depleting substances and approve the use of alternatives which reduce the overall risk to public health and the environment. It has identified some safe alternative air conditioning refrigerants, but Connecticut law previously prohibited their use.

16 & 17 — MOPEDS AND MOTOR DRIVEN CYCLES

The act revises the law on bicycles with helper motors (commonly known as “mopeds”). It redefines a bicycle with a helper motor as a “motor-driven cycle. ” Previously, a bicycle with a helper motor had to (1) have a seat height of 26 inches or more, (2) be powered by a motor with less than 50 cubic centimeter piston displacement, (3) be rated at not more than two brake horsepower, (4) be capable of a maximum speed of no more than 30 miles per hour, and (5) have an automatic transmission. Instead, the act defines a motor-driven cycle as any motorcycle, motor scooter, or bicycle with an attached motor that has a seat height of at least 26 inches and a motor that produces no more than five brake horsepower.

Under this revised definition, certain models of motor scooters that were previously in a “gray area” with respect to whether they should be considered bicycles with helper motors or motorcycles are considered motor-driven cycles. Under the prior law, for example, a bicycle with a helper motor required only a driver's license to operate, but a motorcycle required a special license endorsement. Under the act, some small motor scooters for which previously it was unclear whether a motorcycle endorsement was required now only require a driver's license to operate.

The act requires anyone under age 18 operating a motor-driven cycle or who is a passenger on such cycle to wear DMV-approved protective headgear. Previously, this law applied only to someone under age 18 on a motorcycle. If the speed limit on a road is greater than the maximum speed of the motor-driven cycle, the act limits its operation only to the right hand traffic lane or on a usable shoulder on the right side of the highway, except if it is preparing to turn left at an intersection or into or from a private road or driveway.

41 — MOTOR CARRIER ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETINGS

By law, the transportation, motor vehicles, public safety, revenue services, economic and community development, and environmental protection commissioners, or their designees, constitute the Motor Carrier Advisory Council, which serves as a forum for the motor carrier industry and makes recommendations to the U. S. Congress, governor, and General Assembly. Other state agency commissioners, or their designees, can be invited to participate on the council.

Prior law required the council to convene a meeting (1) before each regular session of the legislature concerning legislative proposals of the various state agencies and the industry, (2) after the close of the session concerning impacts and implementation of any legislation affecting the motor carrier industry, and (3) at the call of the chairperson, provided the council must meet, notwithstanding the requirements for pre- and post-session meetings, at least semiannually.

The act instead requires the council chairperson to convene a regular meeting of the council semiannually before and after each regular session for the indicated purposes and specifies that any additional meetings may be convened at the call of the chair. This, in effect, appears to preclude a reading of the meeting requirement to require the council to meet before the session, after the session, and at least twice more during the year at the call of the chair.

1 & 2 — NEW AND REVISED DEFINITIONS

New Definitions

The act adds several definitions that apply generally to all motor vehicle laws. It defines a “camp trailer registration” as the type of registration issued to any trailer that is for non-business use and is limited to camp trailers and utility trailers. It defines a “commercial trailer registration” as the registration type issued to a commercial trailer. Finally, it defines a “student” as any person under age 21 who is attending a preprimary, primary, or secondary school education program.

The act adds a definition of “unregistered motor vehicle” to the general registration law. It defines an unregistered motor vehicle to include any vehicle that is not eligible for registration due to the absence of necessary equipment or other characteristics of the vehicle that make it unsuitable for highway operation, unless its operation is expressly permitted by law. By law, it is an infraction for anyone to operate an unregistered motor vehicle on a public highway.

Revised Definitions

The act redefines a “resident” for purposes of registering a motor vehicle as anyone who is a legal resident of the state, which the commissioner can presume from the fact that the person occupies a dwelling in Connecticut for more than six months of the year. Previously, a resident was defined as someone having a place of residence in the state that he occupied for more than six months a year.

The act also redefines a “camp trailer” from a trailer designed and used exclusively for camping or recreational purposes to a trailer designed “for living or sleeping purposes” and used exclusively for camping or recreational purposes.

BACKGROUND

Ignition Interlock Devices

When an ignition interlock device is installed on a motor vehicle, it prevents the vehicle from starting unless a breath sample is provided that shows a blood-alcohol level below the threshold set for the device. In Connecticut, this threshold is . 025% (The per se intoxication level is . 08%). Sometime after the vehicle is started (usually six to 20 minutes) it requires provision of a second “in use” sample. If this sample is more than the threshold level, countermeasures such as blinking headlights, horn, or both are activated to draw attention to the vehicle.

Four DMV-approved vendors provide ignition interlock devices in Connecticut. The user typically has to pay an installation fee, a monthly lease payment, a charge for downloading the information stored in the device and for calibration (which in Connecticut occurs every 60 days), and in some cases a charge when the device is removed after the required period for its use has elapsed. The monthly fee for the device can vary depending on the length of the lease period.

International Registration Plan

The International Registration Plan is an interstate compact under which interstate motor carriers can register their vehicles in only one of the states where they operate. The registration fee is then shared proportionately in all the states in which they travel according to the proportion of miles they travel in each state. The state in which they register is considered the “base” state. The base state is responsible for dispersing the registration fee appropriately to the other member states.

OLR Tracking: JF: KM: PF: ts