Law Enforcement Bulletin #17-04
There were a number of changes made to Vermont’s motor vehicle laws this past legislative session that law enforcement officers should be aware of. These changes are contained in Acts 71. The following information highlights the sections of the Act we feel would be of most interest to law enforcement officers. These sections become law on July 1, 2017 unless otherwise noted. You can view the Acts in their entirety on the legislative home page of the state website: http://bit.ly/ACT071
Act No. 71 (S.127). Motor vehicles; taxation and fees; judiciary; transportation An act relating to miscellaneous changes to laws related to vehicles and vessels
- Section #1 (23 V.S.A. § 304a) - License Plates and Placards for Persons with Disabilities. Establishes a civil penalty of not less than $400.00 if a person parks in a space reserved for persons with disabilities and displays a special plate or placard for persons with disabilities that was not issued to him or her, unless the person is authorized by law to do so.
- Section #6 (23 V.S.A. § 321) - Registration Transfers. Increases from 30 days to 60 days the period within which a motor vehicle may lawfully be operated with registration plates lawfully transferred from another vehicle.
- Section #7 (23 V.S.A. § 372a) - Registration; Local Transit Buses. Extends from 10 miles to 100 miles the range within which a motor bus used in public transit may operate beyond the boundaries of a city or town and still qualify for a reduced registration fee.
- Section #8 (23 V.S.A. § 373) - Exhibition Vehicles. Authorizes the registrant of an exhibition vehicle to use the vehicle for occasional transportation of passengers or property not more than one day per week, in addition to existing authorized uses for exhibitions, club activities, parades, and other public interest functions.
- Section #11 (23 V.S.A. § 615) - Learner’s Permits. Expands the list of persons whose presence seated beside the holder of a learner’s permit would make the holder’s operation of a motor vehicle lawful, and imposes a penalty on such persons who, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, ride beside the permit holder.
- Section #12 (23 V.S.A. § 1095b) - Prohibition on Handheld Use of a Portable Electronic Device while Driving. Amends provisions related to points assessed against a person’s driving record if convicted of violating the law prohibiting handheld use of a portable electronic device while driving.
- Section #14 (23 V.S.A. chapter 13) - DUI; Total Abstinence Program; Ignition Interlock Devices. Removes the use of regulated prescription drugs as a disqualification for restoration of a person’s driving privilege under the Total Abstinence Program, as long as the person used the prescription drug in a manner consistent with the prescription label; prescribes minimum average periods between random retests of persons operating a motor vehicle under an ignition interlock restricted driver’s license; and eliminates a provision related to ignition interlock devices equipped with a GPS feature.
- Section #24 - Vermont Strong License Plates. Removes any end date from the law that authorizes certain motor vehicles registered in Vermont to display Vermont Strong plates that cover a regular front license plate
- Section #25 & 26 (23 V.S.A. § 1102) - Incident Clearance. Provides that clearance of a crash scene may be delayed until the crash investigation is completed in the case of a crash involving a serious bodily injury or fatality. With regard to provisions of law that authorize the removal of vehicles and cargo from highways under specified circumstances, this act also: specifies that a towing operator may only undertake to remove a vehicle or cargo if summoned by a vehicle owner or operator or an enforcement officer and that, subject to certain exceptions, the vehicle owner or operator has the right to choose the towing operator and designate the location to where the vehicle or cargo is to be removed; provides that a vehicle owner and a motor carrier, if any, are responsible for reasonable costs incurred in the removal and subsequent disposition of a vehicle or cargo; limits the liability of a person for damage incurred during the removal of a motor vehicle or cargo from a highway, if the removal involved a vehicle or cargo that was obstructing traffic or maintenance activities or creating a hazard to traffic; and directs that, with certain exceptions, the operator of a vehicle involved in a crash who stops at the crash scene must move and stop the vehicle at the nearest location where the vehicle will not impede traffic or jeopardize the safety of a person.
- Section #27 (23 V.S.A. § 1222(e)) - Mail Carrier Vehicles. Provides that a vehicle used as a mail carrier under a contract with the U.S. Postal Service will not fail inspection solely because, in converting the vehicle to right-hand drive, the right front airbag has been removed or disconnected.
- Section #28 & 29 (23 V.S.A. § 3306) - Motorboat Lighting, Safety Equipment. Amends a provision regarding lighting required on motorboats 26 feet or longer between sunset and sunrise. This act also codifies a requirement that motorboats operated on waters subject to federal jurisdiction have lights and other safety equipment required by U.S. Coast Guard rules and regulations and creates a penalty for a violation of this requirement.
EFFECTIVE DATES; RETROACTIVITY; SUNSET; APPLICABILITY
- Sec. 24 (Vermont Strong license plates), 25–26 (incident clearance), 27 (inspections; mail carrier vehicles), and 28–29 (motorboat safety equipment), shall take effect on passage.
- In Sec. 14, 23 V.S.A. § 1209a(b) (reinstatement under Total Abstinence Program) shall take effect on passage.
- Notwithstanding 1 V.S.A. § 214, Sec. 23 shall apply retroactively to October 26, 2016.
- 23 V.S.A. § 1222(e), added in Sec. 27 (inspections; mail carrier vehicles), shall be repealed on July 1, 2020.
- In Sec. 14, 23 V.S.A. § 1213(l)(2) (timing of random retests and elimination of GPS requirement) shall take effect 60 days after passage of this act.
- All other sections shall take effect on July 1, 2017.
- In Sec. 14, 23 V.S.A. § 1213(l)(2) (timing of random retests and elimination of GPS requirement) shall apply to all persons with ignition interlock restricted driver’s licenses as of the effective date of this provision and to persons whose underlying DUI offenses occurred prior to the effective date of this act, as well as to persons who obtain ignition interlock RDLs on or after the effective date of this provision.
- In Sec. 14, 23 V.S.A. § 1209a(b) (reinstatement under Total Abstinence Program) shall apply to persons whose periods of abstinence began prior to the effective date of this provision, as well as to persons who begin a period of abstinence on or after the effective date of this provision. In addition to hardship fee waivers authorized under 23 V.S.A. § 1209a(b), if a person’s application for reinstatement under the Program was denied prior to the effective date solely because of use of a drug in accordance with a valid prescription, and the person used the drug in a manner consistent with the prescription label, the Commissioner shall waive the fee for a subsequent application.
Date Governor signed bill: June 8, 2017
Please contact Enforcement & Safety Division, if you have any questions