Senate Bill No. 12
(By Senators Browning, Chafin, Miller, D. Facemire and Beach)
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;
reported February 17, 2012.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §17A-3-2 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to the use of low-speed vehicles in municipalities; and authorizing municipalities to allow, by ordinance, the operation of low-speed vehicles on roads in municipalities with speed limits over twenty-five miles per hour and less than thirty-five miles per hour.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §17A-3-2 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 3. ORIGINAL AND RENEWAL OF REGISTRATION; ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATES OF TITLE.
§17A-3-2. Every motor vehicle, etc., subject to registration and certificate of title provisions; exceptions.
(a) Every motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, pole trailer and recreational vehicle when driven or moved upon a highway is subject to the registration and certificate of title provisions of this chapter except:
(1) Any vehicle driven or moved upon a highway in conformance with the provisions of this chapter relating to manufacturers, transporters, dealers, lienholders or nonresidents or under a temporary registration permit issued by the division as authorized under this chapter;
(2) Any implement of husbandry upon which is securely attached a machine for spraying fruit trees and plants of the owner or lessee or for any other implement of husbandry which is used exclusively for agricultural or horticultural purposes on lands owned or leased by the owner of the implement and which is not operated on or over any public highway of this state for any other purpose other than for the purpose of operating it across a highway or along a highway other than an expressway as designated by the Commissioner of the Division of Highways from one point of the owner's land to another part of the owner’s land, irrespective of whether or not the tracts adjoin: Provided, That the distance between the points may not exceed thirty-five miles, or for the purpose of taking it or other fixtures attached to the implement, to and from a repair shop for repairs. The exemption in this subdivision from registration and license requirements also applies to any vehicle described in this subsection or to any farm trailer owned by the owner or lessee of the farm on which the trailer is used, when the trailer is used by the owner of the trailer for the purpose of moving farm produce and livestock from the farm along a public highway for a distance not to exceed thirty-five miles to a storage house or packing plant, when the use is a seasonal operation:
(A) The exemptions contained in this section also apply to farm machinery, tractors and mini trucks: Provided, That the machinery, tractors and mini trucks may use the highways in going from one tract of land to another tract of land regardless of whether the land is owned by the same or different persons. For the purposes of this section, “mini truck” means a foreign-manufactured import or domestic-manufactured vehicle designed primarily for off-road use and powered by an engine ranging in size from 550cc to 660cc and weighing approximately one thousand eight hundred pounds;
(B) Any vehicle exempted under this subsection from the requirements of annual registration certificate and license plates and fees for the registration certificate and license plate may not use the highways between sunset and sunrise unless the vehicle is classified as a Class A motor vehicle with a farm-use exemption under the provisions of section one, article ten of this chapter and has a valid and current inspection sticker as required by the provisions of article sixteen, chapter seventeen-c of this code and is traveling from one tract of land to another over a distance of thirty-five miles or less;
(C) Any vehicle exempted under this section from the requirements of annual registration certificate and license plates may use the highways as provided in this section whether the exempt vehicle is self-propelled, towed by another exempt vehicle or towed by another vehicle required to be registered;
(D) Any vehicle used as an implement of husbandry exempt under this section shall have the words "farm use" affixed to both sides of the implement in ten-inch letters. Any vehicle which would be subject to registration as a Class A or B vehicle if not exempted by this section shall display a farm-use exemption certificate on the lower driver's side of the windshield:
(I) The farm-use exemption certificate shall be provided by the commissioner and shall be issued annually by the assessor of the applicant's county of residence. The assessor shall issue a farm-use exemption certificate to the applicant upon his or her determination pursuant to an examination of the property books or documentation provided by the applicant that the vehicle has been properly assessed as Class I personal property. Nothing in this section or any rule promulgated under the authority of chapter twenty-nine-a of this code may be construed to require any applicant for a renewal of a farm-use exemption certificate to appear personally before any assessor. The assessor shall charge a fee of $2 for each certificate, which shall be retained by the assessor;
(ii) A farm-use exemption certificate shall not exempt the applicant from maintaining the security required by chapter seventeen-d of this code on any vehicle being operated on the roads or highways of this state;
(iii) No person charged with the offense of operating a vehicle without a farm-use exemption certificate, if required under this section, may be convicted of the offense if he or she produces in court, or in the office of the arresting officer, a valid farm-use exemption certificate for the vehicle in question within five days;
(3) Any vehicle which is propelled exclusively by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires though not operated upon rails;
(4) Any vehicle of a type subject to registration which is owned by the government of the United States;
(5) Any wrecked or disabled vehicle towed by a licensed wrecker or dealer on the public highways of this state;
(6) The following recreational vehicles are exempt from the requirements of annual registration, license plates and fees, unless otherwise specified by law, but are subject to the certificate of title provisions of this chapter regardless of highway use: Motorboats, all-terrain vehicles, utility terrain vehicles and snowmobiles; and
(7) Any special mobile equipment as defined in subsection (r), section one, article one of this chapter.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section:
(1) Mobile homes or manufactured homes are exempt from the requirements of annual registration, license plates and fees;
(2) House trailers may be registered and licensed; and
(3) Factory-built homes are subject to the certificate of title provisions of this chapter.
(c) The division shall title and register low-speed vehicles if the manufacturer’s certificate of origin clearly identifies the vehicle as a low-speed vehicle. The division may not title or register homemade low-speed vehicles or retrofitted golf carts and such vehicles do not qualify as low-speed vehicles in this state. In addition to all other motor vehicle laws and regulations, except as specifically exempted below, low-speed vehicles are subject to the following restrictions and requirements:
(1) Low-speed vehicles shall only be operated on private roads and on public roads and streets within the corporate limits of a municipality where the speed limit is not more than twenty-five miles per hour: Provided, That a municipality may authorize, by ordinance, the operation of low-speed vehicles on private roads and on public roads and streets within the corporate limits of a municipality where the speed limit is not more than thirty-five miles per hour;
(2) Notwithstanding any provisions in this code to the contrary, low-speed vehicles shall meet the requirements of 49 C. F. R. §571.500 (2003);
(3) In lieu of annual inspection, the owner of a low-speed vehicle shall, upon initial application for registration and each renewal thereafter, certify under penalty of false swearing, that all lights, brakes, tires and seat belts are in good working condition; and
(4) Any person operating a low-speed vehicle must hold a valid driver’s license, not an instruction permit.