Senate Bill No. 521
(By Senators Laird, Palumbo, Kirkendoll, Cookman, Stollings, Kessler (Mr. President), Snyder, Cann, Plymale, Williams, Miller and Chafin)
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;
reported April 1, 2013.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §17B-3-3c and §17B-3-9 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §17B-3-9a, all relating to creating an amnesty program for certain persons with suspended or revoked licenses due to unpaid fines and assessments to allow reinstatement drivers’ licenses; establishing a time period and certain procedures for the amnesty program; creating exceptions to the amnesty period; making certain technical corrections; requiring certain tickets amnestied remain listed as unsatisfied on court records and amounts remain due; requiring certain suspension or revocation time remaining be waived in certain situations; requiring a public awareness campaign regarding the amnesty program; and providing for emergency and standard rule-making authority.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §17B-3-3c and §17B-3-9 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that said code be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §17B-3-9a, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 3. CANCELLATION, SUSPENSION OR REVOCATION OF LICENSES.
§17B-3-3c. Suspending license for failure to pay fines or penalties imposed as the result of criminal conviction or for failure to appear in court.
(a) The division shall suspend the license of any a resident of this state or the privilege of a nonresident to drive a motor vehicle in this state upon receiving notice from a circuit court, magistrate court or municipal court of this state, pursuant to section two-b two-a, article three, chapter fifty of this code, or section two-b, article ten, chapter eight of said this code or section seventeen, article four, chapter sixty-two of said this code, that such the person has defaulted on the payment of costs, fines, forfeitures, penalties or restitution imposed on the person by the circuit court, magistrate court or municipal court upon conviction for any a criminal offense by the date such the court had required such the person to pay the same, or that such the person has failed to appear in court when charged with such an offense. For the purposes of this section; section two-b two-a, article three, chapter fifty of said code; section two-b, article ten, chapter eight of said code; and section seventeen, article four, chapter sixty-two of said code, "criminal offense" shall be is defined as any a violation of the provisions of this code or the violation of any a municipal ordinance for which the violation thereof which may result in a fine, confinement in jail or imprisonment in a correctional facility of this state: Provided, That any a parking violation or other violation for which a citation may be issued to an unattended vehicle shall not be considered is not a criminal offense for the purposes of this section; section two-b, article ten, chapter eight of said code; section two-b two-a, article three, chapter fifty of said code; or section seventeen, article four, chapter sixty-two of said code.
(b) A copy of the order of suspension shall be forwarded to such the person by certified mail, return receipt requested. No order of suspension becomes effective until ten days after receipt of a copy of such the order. The order of suspension shall advise the person that because of the receipt of notice of the failure to pay costs, fines, forfeitures or penalties, or the failure to appear, a presumption exists that the person named in the order of suspension is the same person named in the notice. The Commissioner Office of Administrative Hearings’ Chief Hearing Examiner may grant an administrative hearing which substantially complies with the requirements of the provisions of section two, article five-a, chapter seventeen-c of this code upon a preliminary showing that a possibility exists that it is possible the person named in the notice of conviction is not the same person whose license is being suspended. Such The request for hearing shall be made within ten days after receipt of a copy of the order of suspension. The sole purpose of this hearing shall be is for the person requesting the hearing to present evidence that he or she is not the person named in the notice. In the event the Commissioner grants an administrative hearing, the Commissioner Office of Administrative Hearings’ Chief Hearing Examiner grants an administrative hearing, the Office of Administrative Hearings will send notice to the commissioner and the commissioner shall stay the license suspension pending the Commissioner's Chief Hearing Examiner’s order resulting from the hearing.
(c) A suspension under this section and section three-a of this chapter article will continue until the person provides proof of compliance from the municipal, magistrate or circuit court and pays the reinstatement fee as provided in section nine of this article: Provided, That proof of compliance is not required when the provisions of section nine-a of this article are met. The reinstatement fee is assessed upon issuance of the order of suspension regardless of the effective date of suspension.
§17B-3-9. Surrender and return of license not required.
The division, upon suspending or revoking a license, may not require that the license be surrendered to and be retained by the division. The surrender of a license may not be a precondition to the commencement and tolling of any applicable period of suspension or revocation. Provided, That Before the license may be reinstated, the licensee shall pay a fee of $50, in addition to all other fees and charges, which shall be collected by the division and deposited in a special revolving fund to be appropriated to the division for use in the enforcement of the provisions of this section. No fee or charge may be assessed for reinstatement of a suspension for failure to pay a citation or ticket five years old or older for which amnesty was granted under the provision of section nine-a of this article.
§17B-3-9a. Amnesty program for certain licenses.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this code to the contrary, from October 1, 2013, until September 30, 2014, in addressing whether a licensee is qualified for reinstatement, the Division of Motor Vehicles shall treat all instances of failure to satisfy payment requirements pursuant to section three-a or three-c of this article or for driving while suspended or revoked related solely due to failure to pay citations or tickets and shall treat such citations and tickets as fully paid and complied with if the date of imposition of the penalty for the unpaid citation or ticket was more than five years prior to the effective date of this section: Provided, That the person does not hold a commercial driver’s license and the citation or ticket is not pertaining to an offense related to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle as defined in chapter seventeen-e of this code.
(b) All fines or costs assessed more than five years prior to the effective date of this section based upon traffic tickets or citations will remain unpaid on the court’s record despite the amnesty provisions of subsection (a) of this section. Any cost, fine, forfeiture, penalty, restitution or other money owed as indicated by the court would remain due.
(c) The division shall waive any remaining time on a suspension or revocation for a second or subsequent conviction of subsection (a), section three, article four of this chapter if the only underlying suspensions in effect at the time of the incident were resolved through the amnesty program contained in this section.
(d) This section does not waive any requirement for the retesting of a driver’s vision, written or road skills if an offender’s driver’s license has expired for more than six months.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the division may not waive requirements or fees if the waiver:
(1) Violates federal laws or federal rules pertaining to commercial drivers or other licensees;
(2) Disqualifies or jeopardizes the ability of this state to receive federal highway funding or highway safety funding; or
(3) Places this state in noncompliance with Interstate or reciprocal agreements that may be in effect now or in the future.
(f) The division shall prepare and execute a public awareness campaign to inform the public about the amnesty program contained in this section and how the public can participate in the program.
(g) The commissioner may promulgate emergency rules pursuant to the provisions of section fifteen, article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code and propose rules for legislative approval, in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, to implement this section.
(NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create an amnesty program for drivers with suspended or revoked licenses based on nonpayment of certain court fees in order to allow them to obtain their legal driver’s license without having to pay citations or tickets ten years old or older.
§17B-3-9a is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.)