CHAPTER 204

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 262

AS AMENDED BY SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 21 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO TRAFFIC LIGHT SIGNAL VIOLATION MONITORING SYSTEMS.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE :

Section 1. Amend Section 4101(d), Title 21, Delaware Code by deleting paragraphs (2) through (7) thereof, and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

"(2) Liability. The owner or operator of a vehicle which has failed to comply with a traffic light signal, as evidenced by information obtained from a traffic light signal violation monitoring system, shall be subject to a civil or administrative assessment not to exceed $75; provided, however, that the city or county may provide for an additional assessment not to exceed $10 if the civil or administrative assessment is not paid within 14 days; which assessment may be increased to an amount not to exceed $20 if the assessment is not paid within 45 days; and may be increased to an amount not to exceed $30 if the assessment is not paid within 90 days. Court costs or similar administrative fees not to exceed $30 may also be assessed if the owner requests a hearing to contest the violation, and is ultimately found to be in violation or fails to pay or contest the violation in a timely manner. If the owner or operator is found not to be in violation, court costs or similar administrative fees shall be assessed against the non-moving party. A violation for which a civil assessment is imposed under this subsection shall not be classified as a criminal offense and shall not be made a part of the operating record of the person upon whom such liability is imposed, nor shall it be used for insurance purposes in the provision of motor vehicle insurance. Assessments collected as a result of a traffic control signal monitoring system shall be paid to the city or county which controlled the monitoring system, or the General Fund for personnel, after first being applied to reimburse the applicable state agencies for their costs of administering such systems.

(3) Definitions. For purpose of this subsection only,

(i) 'owner' means the registered owner of such vehicle on record with this or any other State; provided, however, that in the event that the owner is a vehicle leasing company, the 'owner' for purposes of this subsection, shall mean the person shown on the records to be the lessee of such vehicle. Vehicle rental companies are excluded from the definition of 'owner'.

(ii) 'traffic light signal violation monitoring system' means a vehicle sensor installed to work in conjunction with a traffic light that automatically produces two (2) or more photographs, or two (2) or more microphotographs, or a videotape, or other recorded images of each vehicle at the time it is used or operated in violation of this subsection.

(4) Summons and Notice of Violation. Any nonresident owner or operator of any motor vehicle which is operated or driven on the public streets, roads, turnpikes or highways of this State is deemed to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the Delaware Courts for purposes of this subsection. Notwithstanding any other provision of the Delaware Code, a summons for a violation of this subsection may be executed by mailing to any Delaware resident or non-resident by first-class mail a copy thereof to the address of the owner of the vehicle as shown on the records of the Division of Motor Vehicles of this or any other State, as appropriate. Collection actions, including default judgment and execution, may proceed based upon jurisdiction obtained through the mailing by first class mail of a summons and subsequent court notices pursuant to this subsection. Every initial mailing shall include the (I) name and address of the owner of the vehicle; (ii) registration number of the motor vehicle involved in the violation; (iii) violation charges; (iv) location where the violation occurred; (v) date and time of the violation; (vi) copies of two (2) or more photographs, or microphotographs or other recorded images, taken as proof of the violation; (vii) amount of the civil assessment imposed and the date by which the civil assessment should be paid; (viii) information advising the summonsed person of the matter, time and place by which liability as alleged in the notice may be contested, and warning that the failure to pay the civil assessment or to contest liability in a timely manner is an admission of liability and may result in a judgment being entered against the summonsed person and/or the denial of the registration or the renewal of the registration of any of the owner's vehicles; and (ix) notice of the summonsed person's ability to rebut the presumption that he or she was the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation and the means for rebutting such presumption. All subsequent mailing of court notices, summons, and payment requests shall include all information listed in subparagraphs (i) through (ix).

(5) Payment by voluntary assessment. Persons electing to pay by voluntary assessment shall make payments to the entity designated on the summons for payment. Such entity may be the Justice of the Peace Court or an entity designated by the Court, the Department of Public Safety, or by the city or county in which the traffic light was located. Procedures for payment under this subsection shall be as provided by court rule of the Justice of the Peace Court, by regulation of the Department of Public Safety, or by regulation, code, or ordinance of the applicable city or county, and shall be in lieu of the procedures set forth in section 709 of this title.

(6) Procedures to contest the Violation. A person receiving the summons pursuant to this subsection may request a hearing to contest the violation by notifying, in writing, the entity designated on the summons within 20 days of the date and, to request a hearing. Upon receipt of a timely request for a hearing and the payment of costs, a civil hearing shall be scheduled and the defendant notified of the hearing date by first class mail. A civil hearing shall be held by the Justice of the Peace Court or such other entity as designated by the Department of Public Safety or applicable county or city. The hearing may be informal and shall be held in accordance with Justice of the Peace Court Rules, regulation of the Department of Public Safety, or by regulation, code or ordinance of the applicable city or county. Additional administrative collection processes may be established by Court rule, regulation, code, or ordinance, as applicable. Costs for such hearing shall not be assessed against the prevailing party.

(7) Failure to Pay or Successfully Contest the Violation. If the owner fails to pay the civil assessment, to respond to the summons within the time period specified on the summons, and/or to successfully contest the civil assessment resulting from the violation, the Department of Motor Vehicles may refuse to register and/or deny the renewal of the registration of any of the owner's vehicles. In addition, the Department of Public Safety or its designee, or the applicable city or county, may establish procedures for the collection of these assessments and may enforce the assessments by civil action, including seeking judgment and execution on a judgment against the owner in accordance with this subsection.

(8) Proof of Violation. Proof of a violation of this subsection shall be evidenced by information obtained from a traffic light signal violation monitoring system authorized pursuant to this subsection. A certificate, or facsimile thereof, based upon inspection of photographs, microphotographs, videotape, or other recorded images produced by a traffic light signal violation monitoring system shall constitute prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein, if the certificate, or facsimile thereof, is sworn to or affirmed by a technician employed by a locality authorized to impose assessments pursuant to this subsection, or by an employee of an entity designated by such locality to administer records under this subsection. Any photographs, microphotographs, videotape or other recorded images evidencing such a violation shall be available for inspection in any proceeding to adjudicate the liability for such violation pursuant to regulation, ordinance or other law adopted pursuant to this subsection.

(9) Presumptions. The owner of any vehicle found to be in violation of this subsection shall be held prima facie responsible for such violation in the same manner as provided for under section 7003 of this title, unless the owner can furnish evidence that the vehicle was, at the time of the violation, in the care, custody, or control of another person. Such presumption shall be rebutted if the owner (I) furnishes an affidavit by regular mail to the entity indicated on the summons that he or she was not the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation and provides the name and address of the person or company who leased, rented, or otherwise had the care, custody, or control of the vehicle, or attaches a certified copy of a police report showing that the vehicle or license plate(s) thereof had been reported to the police as stolen prior to the time of the alleged violation of this subsection; or (ii) provides proof in court that he or she was not the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation or that he or she failed to comply with the traffic signal either in order to yield the right-of-way to an emergency vehicle or as part of a funeral procession."

Section 2. Severability. If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the Act which can be given effect without the invalid provisions or application and to that end, the provisions of this Act are declared to be severable.

Section 3. Cases under former statute. Any action, case, prosecution, trial or any other legal proceeding in progress under or pursuant to the previous wording of the section amended by this Act, no matter what the stage of the proceeding, shall be preserved and shall not be terminated upon the effective date of this Act. For purposes of such proceedings in progress, the prior law shall remain in full force and effect.

Section 4. Effective date. The act shall be effective 30 days after its enactment into law and shall apply to violations occurring from that date forward.

Approved July 23, 2001