CHAPTER 303

FORMERLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 309

AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 7, TITLE 21 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO MAIL-IN FINE PROCEDURES AND PENALTYS AND TO FURTHER AMEND CHAPTER 52, TITLE 30 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO MOTOR FUEL TAX PENALTYS.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE (Two-thirds of all members elected to each House thereof concurring therein):

Section 1. Amend Section 709 of Chapter 7, Title 21 of the Delaware Code by striking section 709 in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof a new section 709 to read as follows:

"§709. Motor Vehicle Fines Payable by Mail.

(a) Applicability. Any duly constituted peace officer in the State who charges any person with any of the offenses hereinafter designated "motor vehicle offenses subject of voluntary assessment" may, in addition to issuing a summons for any such offenses, provide the offending operator with a voluntary assessment form which, when properly executed by the officer and the offender, allows the offender to dispose of the charge without the necessity of personally appearing in the court to which the summons is returnable. The court to which the summons is returnable shall be determined by 5703 of this title, provided, however, that the Courts of the Justices of the Peace may establish a Mail-in fine Center for each County within the State, in which case the summons may be made returnable to the applicable Mail-in fine Center.

(b) Definitions.

(1) "Payment" as used in this section shall mean the total amount of the fine and of the costs as herein provided and of the penalty assessment added to the fine pursuant to the Delaware Victim Compensation Law, Chapter 90 of Title I I.

(2) "Voluntary assessment form" as used in this section means the written agreement or document signed by the violator wherein he agrees to pay by mail the fine for the offense described therein together with costs and penalty assessment.

(c) Places and Time of Payment.

Payments made pursuant to this section shall be remitted to the court or Mail-in fine Center to which the summons is returnable and shall be disbursed in accordance with 5706 of this title. The payment must be received by the court or Mail-in fine Center within 10 days from the date of arrest (excluding Saturday and Sunday) and shall be paid only be check or money order.

(d) Jurisdiction.

This section shall apply to any licensed resident of the State; to residents of those jurisdictions with which the State has entered a reciprocal agreement pursuant to Chapter 4 of this title; and to those out-of-State residents who, in the discretion of the arresting peace officer, are deemed to be reliable prospects for a voluntary assessment disposition.

(e) Offenses Designated as "Motor Vehicle Offenses Subject to Voluntary Assessmenr; Exceptions

All offenses, as now or hereafter set forth in this title, and all motor vehicle offenses falling within the scope of section 5211 (a) of Title 30 of the Delaware Code, are hereby designated as motor vehicle offenses subject to voluntary assessment except for the following offenses:

(1) Violation of §2701 of this title;

(2) Violation of §2756 of this title;

(3) Violation of §4103 of this ti tle;

(4) Violation of §4175 of this title;

(5) Violation of §4177 of this title;

(6) Violation of §4201 of this title;

(7) Violation of §4202 of this title;

(8) Any violation of Chapter 67 of this title.

(f) Offer and Acceptance of Voluntary Assessment; Effect; Withdrawal of Acceptance; Request for Hearing.

(1) At the time of making an arrest for any offense subject to this section, the arresting officer may offer the alleged violator the option of accepting a voluntary assessment. The alleged violator's signature on the voluntary assessment form constitutes an acknowledgement of guilt of the offense stated in the form and an agreement to pay the fine as herein provided, together with costs and penalty assessment, within 10 days from the date of arrest (excluding Saturday and Sunday), during which time payment must be received by the court or the applicable Mail-in fine Center.

(2) The alleged violator, after signing and receiving the voluntary assessment form may withdraw his acceptance of the voluntary assessment and request a hearing on the charge stated in such form, provided that the alleged violator, within 10 days from the date of arrest (excluding Saturday and Sunday), personally or in writing notifies the court or the applicable Mail-in fine Center to which payment of the penalty assessment was to be made that he wishes to withdraw his acceptance of the voluntary assessment and requests a hearing on the charge stated in the voluntary assessment form. If the alleged violator notifies the court or the applicable Mall-In fine Center of such withdrawal and request for hearing as aforesaid, he shall be prosecuted for the charge stated in the voluntary assessment form as if such form had not been issued.

Penalty.

If an alleged violator elects the option of accepting a voluntary assessment in accordance with subsection (f) of this section, the penalty for offenses designated as motor vehicle offenses subject to voluntary assessment shall be the minimum fine for each specific offense charged and fines shall be cumulative If more than 1 offense is charged.

(h) Court Costs and Applicability of Delaware Victim Compensation Law.

In lieu of any other court costs, and provided the offense is not subject to other proceedings under this section, each fine for an offense under this section shall be subject to court costs of $8.50. Each fine for an offense under this section shall be subject also to the penalty assessment which is or may be provided for in the Delaware Victim Compensation Law, Chapter 90 of Title 11.

(i) Agreement to Accept Voluntary Assessment Procedure.

Whenever a person Is arrested for commission of an offense subject to this section and has elected to make payment as herein provided, the arresting officer, using the uniform traffic citation, shall complete the information section and prepare the voluntary assessment form indicating the amount of the fine, have the arrested person sign the voluntary assessment form, give a copy of the citation and form to the arrested person and release him from custody. The arresting officer shall also inform the arrested person of the court or applicable Mail-in fine Center to which payment shall be submitted. No officer shall receive or accept custody of a payment. If the person declines to accept the voluntary assessment, the arresting officer shall follow the procedure for arrest as set forth in Chapter 19 of Title 11.

(j) Payment of Fines and Complete Satisfaction; Repeat Offenders.

(1) Payment of the prescribed fine, costs and penalty assessment is a complete satisfaction of the violation, except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, but does not waive any administrative penalty which may be lawfully charged to the violator's driving record by the Department of Public Safety.

(2) In the event that following compliance with the payment provisions of this section, it Is determined that within the 2-year period immediately preceding the violation, the violator was convicted of or made a payment pursuant to this section In satisfaction of a violation of the same section of this title, personal appearance before the court to which the summons is returnable or the court which is associated with the applicable Mall-in fine Center may be required. Notice of the time and place for the required court appearance may be given to the violator by the court to which the summons for the offense would be returnable.

(k) Removal from Applicability of Section.

(1) If a payment due pursuant to this section is not received by the court or applicable Mail-in fine Center to which the summons is returnable within 10 days from the date of arrest (excluding Saturday and Sunday), the violator shall be prosecuted for the offense charged on the voluntary assessment form in a manner as if a voluntary assessment form had not been issued. Upon conviction in such prosecution, the court to which the summons is returnable or the court which is associated with the applicable Mail-in fine Center shall impose penalties as provided by this title or other law relating to motor vehicles for the particular violation charged, and the provisions of this section as to payment of fines under voluntary assessments shall not apply.

(2) in addition to the penalties provided for in paragraph (1) of this subsection, the violator who has elected to make payment pursuant to this section who has failed to do so within 10 days (excluding Saturday and Sunday) from the date of arrest may be prosecuted for violating provisions of section 702 of this title.

(1) Procedure.

(1) The arresting officer or another officer attached to the arresting officer's troop or agency shall deliver forthwith from the time of arrest the voluntary assessment agreement and summons to the court or Mail-in fine Center to which the summons Is returnable. The summons need not be sworn to at the time of delivery to the court or Mail-in fine Center; provided that the charge recorded on the summons may be dismissed by the court, upon a motion if said summons is not sworn to by the arresting officer prior to trial.

(2) If a payment due pursuant to this section is not received by the court or applicable Mail-in fine Center to which the summons is returnable within 10 days from the date of arrest (excluding Saturdays and Sundays), the court or applicable Mail-in fine Center shall, after entering pertinent information in a log maintained by the court or applicable Mail-in-fine Center, return all papers delivered to it pursuant to subsection (I) (1) of this section to the arresting officer. It shall thereafter be the responsibility of the arresting officer to return the proper papers to the court or applicable Mail-in fine Center at which time he may swear out a warrant for the violator's arrest on the original charge. In addition, he may further swear out a warrant charging the violator with failure to answer summons in violation of section 702 of this title.

(3) Should the court or Mail-in fine Center receive payment from the violator after returning the papers to the arresting officer but before an arrest is made on the warrant or warrants, the payment shall be accepted by the court or applicable Mail-in fine Center which shall prepare a Mail-in Disposition Slip consisting of an original and two copies. The original shall remain with the court or applicable Mail-in fine Center. Both copies shall be forwarded to the arresting officer. The warrant shall then be withdrawn and the warrant charging failure to answer summons may also be withdrawn.

(m) Nonexclusive Procedure.

The procedure prescribed is not exclusive of any other method prescribed by law for the arrest and prosecution of persons violating this title."

Approved June 30, 1982.