Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

05/06/2006 09:00 AM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SCS CSHB 347(JUD) Out of Committee
Moved SCS CSHB 482(JUD) Out of Committee
        HB 347-MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE/LICENSE/ NOTICES                                                                     
9:18:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  RALPH SEEKINS  announced CSHB  347(JUD)  am to  be up  for                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  LES GARA,  bill sponsor,  introduced the  HB 347.                                                               
The  bill would  close a  loophole that  has caused  a number  of                                                               
drivers  to  be  charged  criminally  for  driving  without  auto                                                               
insurance when, in fact, they had insurance.                                                                                    
The problem lies  with the process of  vehicle accident paperwork                                                               
with the Department of Motor  Vehicles (DMV). Drivers involved in                                                               
an accident  are required  to fill out  paperwork and  prove that                                                               
they carry insurance. If they fail  to do so, the DMV is required                                                               
to send a  reminder notice to the address in  their database even                                                               
if  there is  a more  current address  on the  police report.  To                                                               
solve the problem,  HB 347 provides that the DMV  should send the                                                               
required information to the driver's last known address.                                                                        
9:22:03 AM                                                                                                                    
The bill would increase the  penalty for uninsured motorists. The                                                               
bill would  also allow for  the impoundment of vehicles  that are                                                               
used under  the offenses of  driving while suspended  and driving                                                               
under  the  influence of  intoxicants.  The  decision whether  to                                                               
impound the vehicle would be left up to local law enforcement.                                                                  
9:23:11 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Gene Therriault joined the committee.                                                                                   
DUANE BANNOCK,  Director, DMV, testified  that the DMV  loves the                                                               
bill.  He  directed  his  comments   to  Section  4  and  gave  a                                                               
hypothetical  example  of  a person  involved  in  an  automobile                                                               
accident. The  law requires that  for every accident  that incurs                                                               
over  $500 worth  of  damage that  the DMV  must  be notified  in                                                               
writing  of  the  name  of the  insurance  company.  For  various                                                               
reasons  many people  do not  do  that. Sometimes  the person  is                                                               
whisked away to the hospital  and sometimes people think that the                                                               
police paperwork fulfilled that requirement.                                                                                    
At any rate, after the DMV  receives the police report, they look                                                               
for the yellow notification form and  if they don't find it, they                                                               
send  the notification  letter. By  law, the  DMV is  required to                                                               
send the  notice to  the address  in their  records even  if they                                                               
know the address  in their database is incorrect and  even if the                                                               
address  on  the  police  report  is  updated  and  known  to  be                                                               
accurate. As a  result, the customer never  gets the notification                                                               
and has their license suspended without knowing it.                                                                             
9:29:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  Mr. Bannock whether the  police are required                                                               
to  have the  person  fill out  the yellow  form  while they  are                                                               
performing the accident investigation.                                                                                          
MR.  BANNOCK  said yes  but  for  some  reason they  often  don't                                                               
fulfill  that requirement.  He  suggested  that a  representative                                                               
from the Department of Public Safety respond to the question.                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS referred  to Section  4(f) and  asked how  the DMV                                                               
would decide where to send the notification.                                                                                    
MR. BANNOCK  replied the DMV  would send  the notice to  the most                                                               
recent date of address.                                                                                                         
9:32:18 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS expressed concern  with Section 5 because sometimes                                                               
vehicles  get impounded  when someone  other than  the owner  was                                                               
driving. Often times the owner has to  pay a storage fee of up to                                                               
$200 a  day. The  same thing  happens in the  position of  a lien                                                               
holder.  The way  Section  5  is written,  it  would establish  a                                                               
secondary lien on  the vehicle and would establish  that the lien                                                               
holder could only get their vehicle  back if they pay the accrued                                                               
cost of towing and storage of the vehicle.                                                                                      
9:34:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS added  he has seen the situation  happen many times                                                               
where people  lose their vehicles  because they don't  know where                                                               
they  are. He  recounted an  anecdotal story  and said  he had  a                                                               
problem with  an "uncontrolled ability"  to accrue  storage costs                                                               
and create  a lien  that would  give de  facto possession  of the                                                               
vehicle to someone other than the real owner.                                                                                   
9:37:40 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  informed the committee  that he had  an amendment                                                               
to address that concern.                                                                                                        
9:38:00 AM at ease 9:40:21 AM                                                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH moved Amendment 1.                                                                                               
                      A M E N D M E N T 1                                                                                   
OFFERED IN THE SENATE                                                                                                           
     TO:  CSHB 347(JUD) am                                                                                                      
Page 1, lines 1 - 2:                                                                                                            
     Delete "mandatory impoundments of vehicles used in certain                                                               
Page 2, lines 12 - 20:                                                                                                          
     Delete all material.                                                                                                       
Hearing no objections, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                 
SENATOR  GUESS moved  SCS  CSHB 347(JUD)  out  of committee  with                                                               
individual recommendations and attached  fiscal notes. Hearing no                                                               
objections, the motion carried.                                                                                                 

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