Current Status Bill Number:
992Ratification Number: 419Act Number: 407Type of Legislation: General Bill GBIntroducing Body: SenateIntroduced Date: 19980204Primary Sponsor: PassailaigueAll Sponsors: PassailaigueDrafted Document Number: kgh\15379cm.98Companion Bill Number: 4748Date Bill Passed both Bodies: 19980528Date of Last Amendment: 19980528Governor's Action: SDate of Governor's Action: 19980609Subject: Tolls, collection and enforcement of, electronic collection; Highways and Streets, Transportation Department
Body Date Action Description Com Leg Involved ______ ________ _______________________________________ _______ ____________ ------ 19980630 Act No. A407 ------ 19980609 Signed by Governor ------ 19980604 Ratified R419 Senate 19980528 Concurred in House amendment, enrolled for ratification House 19980528 Returned the Bill with amendments Senate 19980528 Receded from its amendment; requested the House to return the Bill House 19980527 Non-concurrence in Senate amendment Senate 19980520 House amendments amended, returned to House with amendment House 19980421 Read third time, returned to Senate with amendment House 19980416 Amended, read second time House 19980414 Committee report: Favorable with 21 HEPW amendment House 19980401 Introduced, read first time, 21 HEPW referred to Committee Senate 19980331 Read third time, sent to House Senate 19980325 Amended, read second time, ordered to third reading with notice of general amendments Senate 19980325 Committee amendment adopted Senate 19980324 Committee report: Favorable with 15 ST amendment Senate 19980204 Introduced, read first time, 15 ST referred to CommitteeView additional legislative information at the LPITS web site.
(A407, R419, S992)
AN ACT TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 57-5-1495 SO AS TO PROVIDE DEFINITIONS RELATED TO THE COLLECTION OF TOLLS, TO PROVIDE THAT CERTAIN PERSONS ARE LIABLE FOR FAILURE TO PAY TOLLS, TO PROVIDE FOR PENALTIES FOR THE FAILURE TO PAY TOLLS, TO PROVIDE FOR ENFORCEMENT, NOTIFICATION, AND ADJUDICATION PROCEDURES FOR TOLL VIOLATIONS, TO PROVIDE FOR ELECTRONIC COLLECTION OF TOLLS AND RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS AND OTHER RECORDED IMAGES USED DURING TOLL COLLECTION, AND TO PROVIDE THAT SCHOOL BUSES TRANSPORTING SCHOOL CHILDREN ARE EXEMPT FROM THE PAYMENT OF TOLLS.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. The 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 57-5-1495. (A) As used in this section:
(1) 'Electronic toll collection system' means a system of collecting tolls or charges which is capable of charging an account holder the appropriate toll or charge by transmission of information from an electronic device on a motor vehicle to the toll lane, which information is used to charge the account the appropriate toll or charge.
(2) 'Lessor' means any person, corporation, firm, partnership, agency, association, or organization renting or leasing vehicles to a lessee under a rental agreement, lease, or otherwise wherein the said lessee has the exclusive use of the vehicle for any period of time.
(3) 'Lessee' means any person, corporation, firm, partnership, agency, association, or organization that rents, leases, or contracts for the use of one or more vehicles and has exclusive use of the vehicles for any period of time.
(4) 'Owner' means a person or an entity who, at the time of a toll violation and with respect to the vehicle involved in the violation, is the registrant or co-registrant of the vehicle with the division of motor vehicles of this State or another state, territory, district, province, nation, or jurisdiction.
(5) 'Photo-monitoring system' means a vehicle sensor installed to work in conjunction with a toll collection facility which automatically produces one or more photographs, one or more microphotographs, a videotape, or other recorded images of a vehicle at the time it is used or operated in violation of toll collection regulations.
(6) 'Toll violation' means the passage of a vehicle through a toll collection point without payment of the required toll.
(7) 'Vehicle' means a device in, upon, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.
(B) Notwithstanding another provision of law, when a vehicle is driven through a turnpike facility without payment of the required toll, the owner and operator of the vehicle is jointly and severally liable to the Department of Transportation to pay the required toll, administrative fees, and civil penalty as provided in this section. The department or its authorized agent may enforce collection of the required toll as provided for in this section.
(C) A certificate, sworn to or affirmed by an agent of the department, or a facsimile of it, that a toll violation has occurred, based upon inspection of photographs, microphotographs, videotape, or other recorded images produced by a photo-monitoring system, is prima facie evidence of the violation and is admissible in any proceeding charging a toll violation pursuant to this section. A photograph, microphotograph, videotape, or other recorded image evidencing a violation must be available for inspection by the party charged and is admissible into evidence in a proceeding to adjudicate liability for a violation.
(D) The department or its authorized agent may assess and collect administrative fees of:
(1) not more than ten dollars for the first toll violation within a period of one year;
(2) not more than twenty-five dollars for each subsequent toll violation within a period of one year.
(E) Upon failure to pay the required toll and administrative fees to the department within thirty days of the notice, the owner or operator may be cited for failure to pay a toll pursuant to this subsection and, upon an adjudication of liability, is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed fifty dollars for each violation as contained in subsection (F). An owner or operator who has been convicted of a violation of Section 57-5-1490 is not liable for the penalty imposed by this subsection.
(F) If a magistrate or municipal judge determines that the person or entity charged with liability under this section is liable, the magistrate or municipal judge shall collect the unpaid tolls and administrative fee and forward them to the department or its authorized agent. The magistrate or municipal judge also may impose a civil penalty of up to fifty dollars for each violation, plus court costs and attorney's fees. The civil penalty must be distributed in the same manner as other fines and penalties collected by the magistrate. Notwithstanding another provision of law:
(1) adjudication of liability pursuant to this section must be made by the magistrate's court of the county in which the toll facility is located or the municipal court of the city in which the toll facility is located; and
(2) an imposition of liability pursuant to this section must be based upon a preponderance of evidence submitted and is not a conviction as an operator pursuant to Section 57-5-1490.
(G) The department or its authorized agent shall send:
(1) a 'First Notice to Pay Toll' to the owner or operator of a vehicle which, on one occasion in any twelve-month period, is identified as having been involved in a toll violation. The first notice must require payment to the department of the required toll, plus an administrative fee as provided for in subsection (D), within thirty days of the mailing of the notice;
(2) a 'Second Notice to Pay Toll' to the owner or operator of a vehicle which is identified as having been involved in a second toll violation in a twelve-month period, or who has failed to respond to a 'First Notice to Pay Toll' within the required time period. The second notice must require payment to the department of the required tolls, plus an administrative fee as provided for in subsection (D) for each violation within thirty days of the mailing of the notice;
(3) a 'Failure to Pay a Toll' citation to the owner or operator of a vehicle which is identified as having been involved in a third toll violation in a twelve-month period, or who has failed to respond to the second notice within the required time period. The citation requires payment to the department of the unpaid tolls, plus an administrative fee of not more than twenty-five dollars for each violation, within thirty days, or the recipient's appearance in magistrate's court of the county in which the violation occurred or the municipal court of the city in which the violation has occurred to contest the citation. The citation is a traffic citation within the meaning of Chapter 25, Title 56; and
(4) notwithstanding another provision of law, the notices and citation required by subsection (G) by first-class mail to the owner or operator of the vehicle identified as being involved in the toll violation. If a vehicle is registered in two or more names, the notices or citation must be mailed to the first name listed on the registration records. Notwithstanding another provision of law, personal delivery of the notices and citation is not required. A manual or automatic record of the mailing of the notices or citation prepared in the ordinary course of business is prima facie evidence of the mailing of the notices or citation;
(5) the notices and citation required by this subsection must contain the following information:
(a) the name and address of the person or entity alleged to be liable for a failure to pay a toll pursuant to this section;
(b) the registration number of the vehicle involved in the toll violation;
(c) the location where the toll violation took place;
(d) the date and time of the toll violation;
(e) the identification number of the photo-monitoring system which recorded the violation or other document locator number;
(f) information advising of the manner and time in which liability may be contested; and
(g) warning advising that failure to contest liability in the manner and time provided in this section is an admission of liability.
(H) If a vehicle owner receives a notice or citation pursuant to this section for a period during which the vehicle involved in the toll violation was:
(1) reported to a law enforcement division as having been stolen, a valid defense to an allegation of liability for a failure to pay a toll is that the vehicle had been reported to a law enforcement division as stolen before the time the violation occurred and had not been recovered by the time of the violation. If an owner receives a notice or citation pursuant to this section for a violation which occurred during a time period in which the vehicle was stolen, but which had not been reported to a law enforcement division as having been stolen, a valid defense to an allegation of liability for a toll violation pursuant to this section is that the vehicle was reported as stolen within two hours after the discovery of the theft by the owner. For purposes of asserting the defense provided by this subitem, a certified copy of the police report on the stolen vehicle, sent by first-class mail to the department, its agent, or the magistrate's court or the municipal court having jurisdiction of the citation within thirty days after receipt of the notices or citation, is sufficient;
(2) leased to another person or entity, the lessor is not liable for the violation if the lessor sends to the department or to the court having jurisdiction over the citation a copy of the rental, lease, or another contract document covering the vehicle on the date of the violation, with the name and address of the lessee clearly legible, within thirty days after receiving the notices or citation. Failure to send the information within the thirty-day period renders the lessor liable for the unpaid tolls and any administrative fees or penalties assessed pursuant to this section. If the lessor complies with the provisions of this subitem, the lessee of the vehicle on the date of the violation is subject to liability for the failure to pay the toll if the department or its agent mails a notice of liability to the lessee within thirty days after receipt of a copy of the rental, lease, or other contract document.
(I) If a person or entity receives a notice or citation pursuant to this section, it is a valid defense to liability that the person or entity that receives the notice was not the owner of the vehicle at the time of the toll violation.
(J) If an owner who pays the required tolls, fees, or penalties, or all of them pursuant to this section was not the operator of the vehicle at the time of the violation, the owner may maintain an action for indemnification against the operator.
(K) An owner of a vehicle is not liable for a penalty imposed pursuant to this section if the operator of the vehicle has been convicted of a violation of Section 57-5-1490 for the same incident.
(L) On turnpike facilities where electronic toll collection systems are utilized:
(1) a person who wants to make payment of tolls electronically must apply to the department or its authorized agent to become an account holder. The department or its authorized agent, in its discretion, may deny the application of a person. A person whose application is accepted must execute an account holder's agreement. The terms of the account holder's agreement must be established by the department;
(2) the department shall ensure that adequate and timely notice is given to all electronic toll collection system account holders to inform them when their accounts are delinquent. The owner of a vehicle who is an account holder under the electronic toll collection system is not liable for a failure to pay a toll pursuant to the provisions of this section unless the department or its authorized agent has first sent a notice of delinquency to the account holder and the account holder was delinquent at the time of the violation;
(3) the department shall not sell, distribute, or make available the names and addresses of electronic toll collection system account holders, without the account holder's consent, to any entity that uses the information for commercial purposes. However, this restriction does not preclude the exchange of this information between entities with jurisdiction over or operating a toll highway bridge or tunnel;
(4) information or data collected by the department or its authorized agent for the purpose of establishing and monitoring electronic toll collection accounts is not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act;
(5) notwithstanding another provision of law, all information, data, photographs, microphotographs, videotape, or other recorded images prepared pursuant to this section must be for the exclusive use of the department or its authorized agent in the discharge of its duties under this section and must not be open to the public, subject to the disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, nor used in a court in an action or a proceeding pending unless the action or proceeding relates to the imposition of or indemnification for liability pursuant to this section.
(M) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, school buses transporting school children for a school event, shall be exempt from the payment of any tolls.
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
Approved the 9th day of June, 1998.