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Introduced Version Senate Bill 394 History

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SB394 intr
Senate Bill No. 394

(By Senators Unger, McCabe, Chafin and Plymale)

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[Introduced January 29, 2010; referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; and then to the Committee on Banking and Insurance.]

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A BILL to amend and reenact §17A-3-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; to amend and reenact §17D-2A-1, §17D-2A-2, §17D-2A-3, §17D-2A-6 and §17D-2A-7 of said code; to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §17D-2A-6a; and to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §33-6-31g, all relating to enforcement of the required security upon motor vehicles; requiring insurance companies licensed to do business in this state to provide policy information to the Division of Motor Vehicles or its agent; authorizing the commissioner to establish a system for online real-time insurance verification; and establishing administrative and criminal penalties.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §17A-3-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; that §17D-2A-1, §17D-2A-2, §17D-2A-3, §17D-2A-6 and §17D-2A-7 of said code be amended and reenacted; that said code be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §17D-2A-6a; and that said code be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §33-6-31g, all to read as follows:
CHAPTER 17A. MOTOR VEHICLE ADMINISTRATION, REGISTRATION,

CERTIFICATE OF TITLE, AND ANTITHEFT PROVISIONS.

ARTICLE 3. ORIGINAL AND RENEWAL OF REGISTRATION; ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATES OF TITLE.

§17A-3-3. Application for registration; statement of insurance or other proof of security to accompany application; criminal penalties; fees; special revolving fund.

Every owner of a vehicle subject to registration under this article shall make application to the division for the registration of the vehicle upon the appropriate form or forms furnished by the division and every application shall bear the signature of the owner or his or her authorized agent, written with pen and ink, and the application shall contain:
(a) The name, bona fide residence and mailing address of the owner, the county in which he or she resides or business address of the owner if a firm, association or corporation.
(b) A description of the vehicle including, insofar as the data specified in this section may exist with respect to a given vehicle, the make, model, type of body, the manufacturer's serial or identification number or other number as determined by the commissioner.
(c) In the event a motor vehicle is designed, constructed, converted or rebuilt for the transportation of property, the application shall include a statement of its declared gross weight if the motor vehicle is to be used alone, or if the motor vehicle is to be used in combination with other vehicles, the application for registration of the motor vehicle shall include a statement of the combined declared gross weight of the motor vehicle and the vehicles to be drawn by the motor vehicle; declared gross weight being the weight declared by the owner to be the actual combined weight of the vehicle or combination of vehicles and load when carrying the maximum load which the owner intends to place on the vehicle; and the application for registration of each vehicle shall also include a statement of the distance between the first and last axles of that vehicle or combination of vehicles.
The declared gross weight stated in the application shall may not exceed the permissible gross weight for the axle spacing listed in the application as determined by the table of permissible gross weights contained in chapter seventeen-c of this code; and any vehicle registered for a declared gross weight as stated in the application is subject to the single-axle load limit set forth in said that chapter.
(d) Each applicant shall state whether the vehicle is or is not to be used in the public transportation of passengers or property, or both, for compensation and if used for compensation, or to be used, the applicants shall certify that the vehicle is used for compensation and shall, as a condition precedent to the registration of the vehicle, obtain a certificate of convenience or permit from the Public Service Commission unless otherwise exempt from this requirement in accordance with chapter twenty-four-a of this code.
(e) A statement under penalty of false swearing that liability insurance is in effect and will continue to be in effect through the entire term of the vehicle registration period within limits which shall be no may not be less than the requirement of section two, article four, chapter seventeen-d of this code, which shall contain the name of the applicant's insurer, the name of the agent or agency which issued the policy and the effective date of the policy and any other information required by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles or that the applicant has qualified as a self- insurer meeting the requirements of section two, article six of said chapter and that as a self-insurer he or she has complied with the minimum security requirements as established in section two, article four of said that chapter. If the commissioner determines that the required security is not in effect, he or she shall suspend the vehicle owner's driver's license and revoke the vehicle registration in accordance with the provisions of article two-a, chapter seventeen-d of this code.
(1) Intentional lapses of insurance coverage. --
(A) In the case of a periodic use or seasonal vehicle, as defined in section three, article two-a, chapter seventeen-d of this code, the owner may provide, in lieu of other statements required by this section, a statement, under penalty of false swearing, that liability insurance is in effect during the portion of the year the vehicle is in actual use, within limits which shall be no less than the requirements of section two, article four, chapter seventeen-d of this code, and other information relating to the seasonal use on a form designed and provided by the division.
(B) Any registrant who prior to expiration of his or her vehicle registration drops or cancels insurance coverage for any reason other than periodic or seasonal use shall either surrender the registration plate or shall, by certified mail, notify the division of the cancellation. The notice shall contain a statement under penalty of false swearing that the vehicle will not be operated on the roads or highways of this state.
(C) The registration of any vehicle upon which insurance coverage has been dropped or canceled under subparagraph (B) of this paragraph shall be reinstated upon submission of current proof of insurance and payment of the duplicate plate fee prescribed by this chapter.
(2) Verification process. --
The division may select any certificate of insurance, owner's statement of insurance, motor vehicle registration or any other form or document for verification of insurance coverage with an insurance company.
(A) If the division verifies with an insurance company that a motor vehicle was operated in this state without the required security in effect based on information received on an accident report, citation, court report or any other evidence of motor vehicle operation, the division shall proceed against the owner and driver in accordance with section seven, article two-a, chapter seventeen-d of this code.
(B) If the division selects a motor vehicle registration for verification of insurance and determines that the owner of a registered motor vehicle did or does not have the required security in effect at the time of verification, the division shall proceed as follows:
(i) The division shall send a notice by certified mail to the registered owner's address and to any lienholder noted on the certificate of title, advising that unless the owner provides verifiable proof that the vehicle was insured on the date of verification or that the vehicle is or was not required to be registered, the owner's driver's license will be suspended for thirty days for a first offense and ninety days for a second or subsequent offense and the motor vehicle registration will be revoked until current verifiable proof of insurance is provided to the division: Provided, That the division shall suspend the driver's license of only one owner if a vehicle is registered in more than one name.
(ii) If, after the notice required in clause (i) of this subparagraph is given to the owner and the lienholder, the owner fails to provide proof of insurance, the driver's license suspension and motor vehicle registration revocation shall go into effect without further notice thirty days from the date of the notice.
(iii) The division shall reinstate the driver's license without regard to the suspension period in this paragraph and reinstate the motor vehicle registration upon submission of proof of current insurance coverage and payment of the reinstatement fees provided in section nine, article three, chapter seventeen-b of this code and section seven, article nine of this chapter.
(3) If any person making an application required under the provisions of this section, in the application knowingly provides false information, false proof of security or a false statement of insurance, or if any person, including an applicant's insurance agent, knowingly counsels, advises, aids or abets another in providing false information, false proof of security, or a false statement of insurance in the application he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or be imprisoned in jail for a period not to exceed fifteen days, or both fined and imprisoned and, in addition to the fine or imprisonment, shall have his or her driver's license suspended for a period of ninety days and vehicle registration revoked if applicable.
(f) Any further information as may that is reasonably be required by the division to enable it to determine whether the vehicle is lawfully entitled to registration.
(g) Each application for registration shall be accompanied by the fees provided in this article and an additional fee of fifty cents for each motor vehicle for which the applicant seeks registration.
(h) Revocation of a motor vehicle registration pursuant to this section shall does not affect the perfection or priority of a lien or security interest attaching to the motor vehicle that is noted on the certificate of title to the motor vehicle.
CHAPTER 17D. MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY RESPONSIBILITY LAW.

ARTICLE 2A. SECURITY UPON MOTOR VEHICLES.
§17D-2A-1. Purpose of article.
The purpose of this article is to promote the public welfare by requiring every owner or registrant of a motor vehicle licensed in this state to maintain certain security during the registration period for such the vehicle and to provide the means for law enforcement and the judicial branch to electronically verify current insurance coverage at any time while a vehicle is operated on the roads and highways of this state.
§17D-2A-2. Scope of article.
This article applies to the operation of all motor vehicles required to be registered to have proof of the security pursuant to article three, chapter seventeen-a of this code in effect, as provided in section two, article two of this chapter, with the exception of motor vehicles owned by the state, any of its political subdivisions or by the federal government.
This article authorizes the commissioner to develop a program that provides real time online verification of insurance coverage for the purposes of motor vehicle registration and renewal of registration, including the determination of whether a policy is in effect, has lapsed or has otherwise been cancelled during the term of a motor vehicle registration through scheduled and unscheduled comparisons between active vehicle registrations and current insurance policies and to allow law enforcement to verify insurance in real time during traffic stops, at crash scenes or at any other time.
§17D-2A-3. Required security; exceptions.
(a) Every owner or registrant of a motor vehicle required to be registered and licensed in this state shall maintain security as hereinafter provided in effect continuously throughout the registration or licensing period except in case of a periodic use or seasonal vehicle, in which case the owner or registrant is required to maintain security upon the vehicle only for the portion of the year the vehicle is in actual use. As used in this section, a periodic use or seasonal vehicle means a recreational vehicle, antique motor vehicle, motorcycle or other motor vehicle which is stored part of the year and used seasonally.
(b) The owner or registrant shall immediately surrender the registration plate to the Division of Motor Vehicles when he or she drops the required security during the registration period except in the case of a periodic use or seasonal vehicle.
(b) Every nonresident owner or registrant of a motor vehicle, which is operated upon any road or highway of this state and which has been physically present within this state for more than thirty days during the preceding three hundred sixty-five days shall thereafter maintain security as hereinafter provided in effect continuously throughout the period such the motor vehicle remains within this state.
(c) No person shall may knowingly drive or operate upon any road or highway in this state any motor vehicle upon which security is required by the provisions of this article unless such the required security is in effect.
(d) Such The security shall be provided by one of the following methods:
(1) By an insurance policy delivered or issued for the delivery in this state by an insurance company authorized to issue vehicle liability and property insurance policies in this state within limits which shall be no may not be less than the requirements of section two, article four of this chapter; or
(2) By qualification as a self-insurer under the provisions of section two, article six of this chapter.
(e) This article does not apply to any motor vehicle owned by the state or by a political subdivision of this state, nor to any motor vehicle owned by the federal government.
§17D-2A-6. Investigation by duly authorized law-enforcement officer to include inquiry regarding required security; notice by officer or court to Division of Motor Vehicles.

(a) At the time of investigation of a motor vehicle offense or accident crash in this state by the State Police or other law- enforcement agency or when a vehicle is stopped by a law-enforcement officer for reasonable cause, the officer of the agency making the investigation shall inquire of the operator of any motor vehicle involved and by any other available means as to the existence upon the vehicle or vehicles of the proof of insurance or other security required by the provisions of this code and upon a finding by the law-enforcement agency, officer or agent thereof that the security required by the provisions of this article is not in effect, as to any vehicle, he or she shall notify the Division of Motor Vehicles of the finding within five days. if no citation requiring a court appearance is issued: Provided, That the law-enforcement officer or agent may not stop vehicles solely to inquire as to the certificate of insurance.
(b) A defendant who is charged with a traffic offense that requires an appearance in court shall present the court at the time of his or her appearance or subsequent appearance with proof that the defendant had security at the time of the traffic offenses as required by this article subject to verification by the court by any means available.
(c) If, as a result of the defendant's failure to show proof, the court determines that the defendant has violated this article, the court shall notify the Division of Motor Vehicles within five days. For purposes of this section, presentation of a certificate of insurance reflecting insurance to be in effect on the date in question shall constitute proof of surety.
§17D-2A-6a. Determining if required security is in effect.
(a) The commissioner may make a determination that the required security on a motor vehicle is not in effect based on crash reports required under the provisions of article four, chapter seventeen-c of this code, reports or citations from law-enforcement agencies, citations or abstracts of conviction from courts, notices from insurance companies or from information from a web based electronic insurance verification program.
(b) The commissioner is authorized to develop and implement an electronic insurance verification program based on a national model to electronically verify insurance coverage with insurance companies based on the following:
(1) The verification system is designed to identify non commercial motor vehicles that are being operated on the roads and highways or have been registered for operation without the required security in effect;
(2) The program provides accurate and current access to motor vehicle insurance coverage information for the identification and enforcement of criminal and administrative sanctions prescribed in this code for the operation or registration of a motor vehicle without the required security in effect. The program shall be available for the use of persons and agencies charged with the enforcement of motor vehicle insurance requirements;
(3) The program protects the security and integrity of information provided by insurers;
(4) The program is developed and implemented in cooperation with insurers by providing prior opportunity for comment by insurers on detailed guides to assist in compliance by insurers;
(5) The program is developed to provide the authority to the commissioner by rule to offer alternative methods for small insurers to comply with the reporting requirements;
(6) The program allows real time on line verification of current insurance coverage for the purpose of motor vehicle registration and renewal of registration, including the determination of whether a policy is in effect, has lapsed or has otherwise been cancelled during the term of a motor vehicle registration through scheduled and unscheduled comparisons between active vehicle registrations and current insurance policies and to allow law enforcement to verify insurance in real time during traffic stops and crash scene investigations;
7. The commissioner may contract with a third party vendor to act as his or her agent to develop the program, conduct the electronic verification with insurance companies and to operate the program.
8. As a condition of writing motor vehicle liability insurance in this state, insurance carriers shall cooperate with the division and the Insurance Commission in establishing and maintaining an insurance verification system and shall provide access to noncommercial motor vehicle insurance policy status to the division or its agent.
9. Any information obtained by the division or its agent under the provisions of an electronic insurance system is for the sole use of the Division of Motor Vehicles or its agent, law enforcement and the judiciary to effectuate the provisions of this article and is exempt from disclosure under the provisions of article one, chapter twenty-nine-b and may not be considered a public record as defined in section two, article one, chapter twenty-nine-b of this code.
10. Any owner of a motor vehicle or driver of a motor vehicle determined by an electronic insurance verification program to be uninsured shall be assessed the same criminal and administrative sanctions prescribed in this chapter: Provided, that any person who is assessed a penalty prescribed by this chapter has the same procedural due process provided by this chapter or by rules promulgated by the division to show that there was not a violation and provide for the exoneration of any penalties or records.
§17D-2A-7. Suspension or revocation of license, registration; reinstatement.

(a) Any owner of a motor vehicle, subject to the provisions of this article, who fails to have the required security in effect at the time such vehicle is currently registered or being operated upon the roads or highways of this state shall have his or her driver's license suspended by the Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles for a period of thirty days and shall have his or her motor vehicle registration revoked until such time as he or she shall present to the Division of Motor Vehicles the proof of security required by this article: Provided, That if a motor vehicle is registered in more than one name, the driver's license of only one of the owners shall be suspended by the commissioner as follows:
(1) For the first offense, the commissioner shall suspend the driver's license and vehicle registration until such time as he or she presents current proof of insurance on all currently registered vehicles:
Provided, That if an owner complies with the provisions of this subdivision, and pays a penalty fee of $200 before the effective date of the driver's license suspension and vehicle registration revocation, no driver's license suspension or vehicle registration revocation shall be imposed nor are any reinstatement fees required.
(2) For the second offense within five years, the commissioner shall suspend the owner's
driver's license for a period of thirty days and shall revoke the owner's vehicle registration until he or she presents to the Division of Motor Vehicles the proof of security required by this article.
(3) For the third or subsequent offense within five years, the commissioner shall suspend the owner's driver's license for a period of ninety days and revoke the vehicle registration until such time as he or she presents current proof of insurance.
(4) If the motor vehicle is titled and registered in more than one name, the commissioner shall suspend the driver's license of only one of the owners.

(b) Any person who knowingly operates a motor vehicle upon the roads or highways of this state which does not have the security required by the provisions of this article shall have his or her driver's license suspended by the commissioner for a period of thirty days subject to the following:
(1) For the first offense, the commissioner shall suspend the driver's license until such time as he or she presents current proof of insurance on all currently registered vehicles: Provided, That if a driver complies with the provisions of this section and pays a penalty fee of $200 before the effective date of the driver's license suspension, no driver's license suspension shall be imposed and no reinstatement fees are required.
(2) For the second offense within five years, the commissioner shall suspend the driver's license for a period of thirty days
.
(3) For the third or subsequent offense within five years, the commissioner shall suspend the person's driver's license for a period of ninety days.
(c) A person's driver's license shall be suspended for a period of thirty days in accordance with subsections (a) and (b) of this section if the person is operating a motor vehicle designated for off-highway use upon the roads and highways of this state without the required security in effect if the motor vehicle is not properly registered and licensed or if the required security was canceled.
(d) The commissioner may withdraw a suspension of a driver's license or revocation of a motor vehicle registration at any time provided that the commissioner is satisfied that there was not a violation of the provisions of required security related to operation of a motor vehicle upon the roads or highways of this state by such person. The commissioner may request additional information as needed in order to make such determination.
(e) No A person shall may not have his or her driver's license suspended or motor vehicle registration revoked under any provisions of this section unless he or she and any lienholder noted on the certificate of title shall is first be given written notice of such suspension or revocation sent by certified mail, at least thirty days prior to the effective date of such suspension or revocation, and upon such that person's written request, sent by certified mail he or she shall be afforded an opportunity for a hearing thereupon as well as a stay of the commissioner's order of suspension or revocation and an opportunity for judicial review of such hearing. The request for a hearing shall be made within ten days from the date of receipt of the notice of driver's license suspension or motor vehicle registration revocation. The scope of the hearing is limited to questions of identity or whether or not there was insurance in effect at the time of the event causing the commissioner's action. Upon affirmation of the commissioner's order, the period of suspension, or revocation shall commence or other penalty commences to run.
(f) Such A suspended driver's license shall be is reinstated following the period of suspension upon compliance with the conditions set forth in this article and such a revoked motor vehicle registration shall be is reissued only upon lawful compliance with the provisions of this article.
(g) If the commissioner has previously suspended the person's driver's license for any reason related to failure to maintain insurance on a motor vehicle within the previous five years, the period of suspension shall be for a period of ninety days.
(h) Revocation of a motor vehicle registration pursuant to this section shall does not affect the perfection or priority of a lien or security interest attaching to the motor vehicle that is noted on the certificate of title to the motor vehicle.
CHAPTER 33. INSURANCE.

ARTICLE 6. THE INSURANCE POLICY.
§33-6-31g. Electronic insurance verification program; insurer's duty to cooperate.

If the Division of Motor Vehicles establishes an electronic insurance verification program in accordance with the provisions of section six-a, article two-a, chapter seventeen of this code, any insurance company that issues or delivers in this state a policy or contract of bodily injury liability insurance or of property damage liability insurance covering liability arising from the ownership, maintenance or use of any motor vehicle, or upon any motor vehicle for which a certificate of title has been issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles of this state, shall give access to the company's records in the manner required by legislative rules proposed by the Division of Motor Vehicles to implement such program. The failure to comply with the requirement to provide such access in accordance with such rules constitutes a violation of a rule of the Insurance Commissioner and may be penalized in the manner permitted by section eleven, article three, chapter thirty-three of this code.



NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to authorize the Division of Motor Vehicles to utilize an electronic insurance verification program to identify uninsured motor vehicles.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

§17D-2A-6a and §33-6-31g are new; therefore, underscoring and strike-throughs have been omitted
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