CHAPTER 234

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 232

AS AMENDED BY SENATE AMENDMENT NOS. 1, 2 AND 3

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 21 RELATING TO MOTOR VEHICLE VOLUNTARY ASSESSMENT PROCEDURES AND THE UNIFORM TRAFFIC COMPLAINT AND SUMMONS.

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

Section 1. Amend §101 of Title 21 by adding the following additional definitions in the appropriate order and renumbering the existing subsections accordingly:

"1. 'Electronic or electronically' means relating to technology having electrical, digital, magnetic, wireless, optical, electromagnetic or similar capabilities.

1. 'Electronic Signature' means an electronic sound, symbol or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record."

Section 2. Amend §709 of Title 21 by deleting the existing section and replacing it with the following:

"(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 to voluntary assessment' may indicate on the Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons that the fine shall be paid by voluntary assessment unless the driver requests a hearing. When a voluntary assessment is permitted and the Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons is properly executed by the officer, the driver may dispose of the charge without the necessity of personally appearing in the court to which the Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons is returnable. The court to which the summons is returnable shall be determined by §703 of this Title unless the summons permits a voluntary assessment in which case it shall be returnable to either the applicable court or a voluntary assessment center established by the Justice of the Peace Court. Notwithstanding any provision of this section and chapter to the contrary, the City of Wilmington may establish the exclusive voluntary assessment center for parking summonses issued for designated offenses within the boundaries of the City of Wilmington.

(a) 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 11, and other penalty assessment as provided by law.

(2) 'Signature' shall include a written signature or an electronic signature as defined by §101 of this Title.

(3) 'Voluntary assessment' means the process set forth in this section by which a driver may voluntarily remit payment of a Title 21 violation without having to appear in a court.

(b) Places and time of payment. Payments made pursuant to this section shall be remitted to the court or voluntary assessment center to which the summons is returnable and shall be disbursed in accordance with §706 of this Title. The court or voluntary assessment center must receive the payment within 30 days of the arrest. Payment to the voluntary assessment center shall be paid only by check, money order, or credit card.

(c) 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.

(d) Offenses designated as 'motor vehicle offenses subject to voluntary assessment'; exceptions. All offenses, as now or hereafter set forth in this Title and all motor vehicle offenses falling within the scope of §5211(a) of Title 30, are hereby designated as motor vehicle offenses subject to voluntary assessment except for the following offenses;

(1) Violation of §2118 of this Title;

(2) Violation of §2118A of this Title;

(3) Violation of §2701 of this Title;

(4) Violation of §2751 of this Title;

(5) Violation of §2752 of this Title;

(6) Violation of §2756 of this Title;

(7) Violation of §4103 of this Title;

(8) Violation of §4175 of this Title;

(9) Violation of §4175A of this Title;

(10) Violation of §4177 of this Title;

(11) Violation of §4177L of this Title;

(12) Violation of §4201 of this Title;

(13) Violation of §4202 of this Title;

(14) Any violation of Chapter 67 of this Title; and

(15) Violations of other Title 21 sections which are deemed not appropriate for processing by voluntary assessment.

(e) Procedure for voluntary assessment.

(1) At the time of making an arrest for any offense subject to this section, the arresting officer shall determine whether the offense may be handled as a voluntary assessment. If the officer determines that the offense may be so treated, the officer may indicate on the Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons that payment shall be made by voluntary assessment, unless the driver requests a hearing on the charge(s). The officer shall inform the arrested person of the court or voluntary assessment center to which payment should be submitted if the person does not request a hearing. No officer shall receive or accept custody of a payment.

(2) A driver who has been given a Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons which specifies that payment be made by voluntary assessment shall pay the fine, together with costs and penalty assessments, within 30 days from the date of arrest during which time payment must be received by the applicable court or voluntary assessment center.

(3) In lieu of paying the voluntary assessment, a driver who has been given a voluntary assessment may request a hearing by notifying, in writing, the court or the voluntary assessment center to which payment is to be made within 30 days of the date of arrest. If the driver makes a timely request for a hearing, the charge shall be prosecuted as if the voluntary assessment had not been permitted and the officer shall swear to the ticket prior to trial.

(4) If a voluntary assessment is not issued or the driver declines to accept the voluntary assessment, the officer shall follow the procedure for arrest as set forth in Chapter 19 of Title 11.

(f) Penalty. The penalty for offenses for which a voluntary assessment payment is made shall be the minimum fine for each specific offense charged and fines shall be cumulative if more than one offense is charged. Provisions of this paragraph as to penalties under voluntary assessment shall not apply if the voluntary assessment payment is not received by the voluntary assessment center or the applicable court within 30 days from the date of arrest.

(g) Court costs; 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 for processing a voluntary assessment agreement as prescribed by §9801 of Title 10. 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, and any other penalty assessments as provided by law.

(h) Effect of payment of fine or signature; repeat offenders.

(1) Payment of the prescribed fine, costs and penalty assessment is an admission of guilt, a waiver of the right to a hearing, and a complete satisfaction of the violation, except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection. Anything in this section notwithstanding, if an agreement for a voluntary assessment is signed by the driver, the signature of the driver shall constitute an acknowledgment of guilt of the stated offense and an agreement to pay the fine, together with costs and penalty assessment within 30 days from the date of arrest. Payment 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 voluntary assessment center may be required.

(3) Failure to pay a voluntary assessment

(1) The voluntary assessment center shall, pursuant to 21 Del. C. §2731, forward to the Division of Motor Vehicles or its successor, the name and address of any driver who was issued a Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons for which a voluntary assessment could be made and who has:

(a) failed to pay the voluntary assessment within 30 days from the date of arrest; and

(b) not notified the court or voluntary assessment center within 30 days from the date of arrest, in writing, that he or she is requesting a hearing on the charge stated in the Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons. The Division of Motor Vehicles shall then suspend the driver's license for Delaware residents, or may suspend the driving privileges in this State of a non-resident of Delaware and immediately advise the Motor Vehicle Administrator of the State wherein the person is a resident that the person's license to drive be suspended, in accordance with §2732(g) of Title 21.

(2) If a driver pays a voluntary assessment more than 30 days after the date of arrest, the voluntary assessment center or court shall provide the driver with a receipt which shall serve as proof to the Division of Motor Vehicles that the fine has been paid, upon request. The driver shall provide the voluntary assessment center with a self-addressed, stamped envelope in order to receive a copy of the receipt by mail. Such payment shall be an admission of guilt, a waiver of the right to a hearing, and a complete satisfaction of the violation, except as provided in paragraph (i)(2) of this section.

(3) If a driver who has failed to pay a voluntary assessment or request a hearing within 30 days of the date of arrest appears at court, the charge shall be prosecuted as if the voluntary assessment had not been permitted and the officer shall swear to the Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons prior to trial. The minimum fine provisions of subsection (g) shall not apply. If the driver who appears pleads not guilty, the Court shall provide the driver with a copy of the appearance bond to provide as proof of court appearance to the Division of Motor Vehicles or its successor.

(4) The Court shall forward to the Division of Motor Vehicles or its successor the name and address of any driver who fails to appear for trial on the date and time required by the Court, or who fails to comply with a deferred payment order, on a motor vehicle charge issued under this section. The Division of Motor Vehicles shall then suspend the driver's license for Delaware residents, or may suspend the driving privileges in this State of a non-resident of Delaware and immediately advise the Motor Vehicle Administrator of the State wherein the person is a resident that the person's license to drive be suspended, in accordance with §2732(g) of Title 21.

(i) Nonexclusive procedure. The procedure prescribed in this section is not exclusive of any other method prescribed by law for the arrest and prosecution of persons violating this Title."

Section 3. Amend Title 21 by adding a new subsection 712 as follows:

"§712. Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons.

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons may be issued electronically or in written form. The office may sign the Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons using an electronic and/or a written signature.

(b) Whenever a person is detained for commission of an offense under this title, or §5211(a) of Title 30 the arresting officer shall verify the driver's identification and shall enter identification information from the driver's license in the Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons; specify on the Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons the amount of the fine and whether it may be made by voluntary assessment or whether appearance at the court is required, give a copy to the arrested person; and release such person from custody.

(c) The printed copy of an electronically issued Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons shall contain a conspicuous statement of the total number of charges on the first page and shall list each individual charge. All charges based on the same arrest shall be issued on the same electronically issued Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons unless evidence necessitates the subsequent issuance of a warrant.

(d) The Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons shall be delivered forthwith from the time of arrest to the voluntary assessment center or to the court to which the summons is returnable. The electronic Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons shall be available for immediate entry in the DELJIS system or its successor.

(e) When a Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons is issued electronically, any printout or other output readable by sight shall be an original except that once a ticket is sworn to prior to trial, the signed and sworn to ticket shall be the original from that point forward."

4Section 4. Amend §2731(c) of Title 21 by deleting the existing section and replacing with the following:

5"(c) The voluntary assessment center shall forward to the Department or its successor a record of the name and address of each person who has been given a Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons on which a voluntary assessment was permitted pursuant to §709 of this Title and who: 1) has failed to pay the voluntary assessment within 30 days from the date of arrest; and 2) has not notified the court or Voluntary Assessment Center with 30 days from the date of arrest, in writing, that he or she wishes to have a hearing on the charge stated in Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons; or 3) has failed to appear at trial on such charge(s) on the time and date required by the Court; or 4) has failed to pay the fine on such charge(s) in accordance with a deferred payment order, the Department or its successor, shall: 1) if the person is a resident of this State, forthwith suspend the person's license until the person provides evidence to the Department that the fine has been paid; or that the person has appeared before the Court and made arrangements to take care of the charge(s); or has been adjudicated not guilty, and 2) if the person is a nonresident of this State, the Department may suspend the person's driving privileges in this State and immediately advise the Motor Vehicle Administrator of the State wherein the person is a resident that the person's license to drive be suspended until the person provides evidence that the fine has been paid; or that the person has appeared before the Court and made arrangements to take care of the charge(s); or has been adjudicated not guilty."

Section 5. Amend §2732(g) of Title 21 by deleting the existing section and replacing it with the following:

6"(g) Upon receiving a record that a person has been given a Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons indicating that a voluntary assessment may be made and that person: 1) has failed to pay the voluntary assessment within 30 days from the date of arrest; and 2) has not notified the court or Voluntary Assessment Center within 30 days from the date of arrest, in writing, that he or she wishes to request a hearing on the charge(s) stated in the Uniform Traffic Complaint and Summons; or 3) has failed to appear at trial on such charge(s) on the time and date required by the Court, or 4) has failed to pay the fine on such charge(s) in accordance with a deferred payment order; the Department or its successor, shall 1) if the person is a resident of this State, forthwith suspend the person's license until the person provides evidence to the Department that the fine has been paid or that the person has appeared before the Court and made arrangements to take care of the charge(s) or has been adjudicated not guilty, and 2) if the person is a nonresident of this State, the Department may suspend the person's driving privileges in this State and immediately advise the Motor Vehicle Administrator of the State wherein the person is a resident that the person's license to drive be suspended until the person provides evidence that the fine has been paid or that the person has appeared before the Court and made arrangements to take care of the charge(s) or has been adjudicated not guilty."

Section 6. Severability. If any section, part, phrase, or provision of this Act or the application thereof be held invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, such judgment shall be confined in its operation to the section, part, phrase, provision, or application directly involved in the controversy in which such judgement shall have been rendered and shall not affect or impair the validity of the remainder of this Act or the application thereof.

Section 7. 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 become illegal or 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.

Approved February 06, 2002