§ 46.2-819.1

Installation and use of photo-monitoring system or automatic vehicle identification system in conjunction with electronic or manual toll facilities; penalty

A. For purposes of this section:”Automatic vehicle identification device” means an electronic device that communicates by wireless transmission with an automatic vehicle identification system.”Automatic vehicle identification system” means an electronic vehicle identification system installed to work in conjunction with a toll collection device that automatically produces an electronic record of each vehicle equipped with an automatic vehicle identification device that uses a toll facility.”Debt collection” means the collection of unpaid tolls and applicable administrative fees by (i) retention of a third-party debt collector or (ii) collection practices undertaken by employees of a toll facility operator that are materially similar to a third-party debt collector.”Operator of a toll facility other than the Department of Transportation” means any agency, political subdivision, authority, or other entity that operates a toll facility.”Owner” means the registered owner of a vehicle on record with the Department of Motor Vehicles or with the equivalent agency in another state. “Owner” does not include a vehicle rental or vehicle leasing company.”Photo-monitoring system” means a vehicle sensor installed to work in conjunction with a toll collection device that automatically produces one or more photographs, one or more microphotographs, a videotape, or other recorded images of each vehicle at the time it is used or operated in violation of this section.

B. The operator of any toll facility or the locality within which such toll facility is located may install and operate or cause to be installed and operated a photo-monitoring system or automatic vehicle identification system, or both, at locations where tolls are collected for the use of such toll facility. The operator of a toll facility shall send an invoice or bill for unpaid tolls to the owner of a vehicle as part of an electronic or manual toll collection process pursuant to § 46.2-819.6 prior to seeking remedies under this section.

C. Information collected by a photo-monitoring system or automatic vehicle identification system installed and operated pursuant to subsection B shall be limited exclusively to that information that is necessary for the collection of unpaid tolls. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, all photographs, microphotographs, electronic images, or other data collected by a photo-monitoring system or automatic vehicle identification system shall be used exclusively for the collection of unpaid tolls and shall not (i) be open to the public; (ii) be sold and/or used for sales, solicitation, or marketing purposes; (iii) be disclosed to any other entity except as may be necessary for the collection of unpaid tolls or to a vehicle owner or operator as part of a challenge to the imposition of a toll; and (iv) be used in a court in a pending action or proceeding unless the action or proceeding relates to a violation of this section or upon order from a court of competent jurisdiction. Information collected under this section shall be purged and not retained later than 30 days after the collection and reconciliation of any unpaid tolls, administrative fees, and/or civil penalties. Any entity operating a photo-monitoring system or automatic vehicle identification system shall annually certify compliance with this section and make all records pertaining to such system available for inspection and audit by the Commissioner of Highways or the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles or their designee. Any violation of this subsection shall constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor. In addition to any fines or other penalties provided for by law, any money or other thing of value obtained as a result of a violation of this section shall be forfeited to the Commonwealth.The toll facility operator may impose and collect an administrative fee in addition to the unpaid toll so as to recover the expenses of collecting the unpaid toll, which administrative fee shall be reasonably related to the actual cost of collecting the unpaid toll and not exceed $ 100 per violation. Such fee may be levied upon the operator of the vehicle after the first unpaid toll has been documented. The operator of the vehicle shall pay the unpaid toll and any administrative fee detailed in an invoice for the unpaid toll issued by a toll facility operator. If paid within 60 days of notification, the administrative fee shall not exceed $ 25.

D. If the matter proceeds to court, the owner or operator of a vehicle shall be liable for a civil penalty as follows: for a first offense, $ 50; for a second offense within one year from the first offense, $ 100; for a third offense within two years from the second offense, $ 250; and for a fourth and any subsequent offense within three years from the second offense, $ 500 plus, in each case, the unpaid toll, all accrued administrative fees imposed by the toll facility operator, and applicable court costs if the vehicle is found, as evidenced by information obtained from a photo-monitoring system or automatic vehicle identification system as provided in this section, to have used such a toll facility without payment of the required toll.

E. Notwithstanding subsections C and D, for a first conviction of an operator or owner of a vehicle under this section, the total amount for the first conviction shall not exceed $ 2,200, including civil penalties and administrative fees regardless of the total number of offenses the operator or owner of a vehicle is convicted of on that date.

F. No summons may be issued by a toll facility operator for a violation of this section unless the toll facility operator can demonstrate that (i) there was an attempt to collect the unpaid tolls and applicable administrative fees through debt collection not less than 30 days prior to issuance of the summons and (ii) 120 days have elapsed since the unpaid toll or, in a summons for multiple violations, 120 days have elapsed since the most recent unpaid toll noticed on the summons.

G. Any action under this section shall be brought in the general district court of the county or city in which the toll facility is located and shall be commenced within two years of the commission of the offense. Such action shall be considered a traffic infraction. The attorney for the Commonwealth may represent the interests of the toll facility operator. Any authorized agent or employee of a toll facility operator acting on behalf of a governmental entity shall be allowed the privileges accorded by § 16.1-88.03 in such cases.

H. Proof of a violation of this section shall be evidenced by information obtained from a photo-monitoring system or automatic vehicle identification system as provided in this section. A certificate, sworn to or affirmed by a technician employed or authorized by the operator of a toll facility or by the locality wherein the toll facility is located, or a facsimile of such a certificate, based on inspection of photographs, microphotographs, videotapes, or other recorded images produced by a photo-monitoring system, or of electronic data collected by an automatic vehicle identification system, shall be prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein. Any photographs, microphotographs, videotape, or other recorded images or electronic data evidencing such a violation shall be available for inspection in any proceeding to adjudicate the liability for such violation under this section. A record of communication by an automatic vehicle identification device with the automatic vehicle identification system at the time of a violation of this section shall be prima facie evidence that the automatic vehicle identification device was located in the vehicle registered to use such device in the records of the Department of Transportation.

I. On a form prescribed by the Supreme Court, a summons for a violation of this section may be executed as provided in § 19.2-76.2. A summons for a violation of this section may set forth multiple violations occurring within one jurisdiction. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 19.2-76, a summons for a violation of this section may be executed by mailing by first-class mail a copy thereof to the address of the owner or, if the owner has named and provided a valid address for the operator of the vehicle at the time of the violation in an affidavit executed pursuant to this subsection, such named operator of the vehicle. Such summons shall be signed either originally or by electronic signature. If the summoned person fails to appear on the date of return set out in the summons mailed pursuant to this section, the summons shall be executed in the manner set out in § 19.2-76.3.Upon a finding by a court of competent jurisdiction that the vehicle described in the summons issued pursuant to this subsection was in violation of this section, the court shall impose a civil penalty upon the owner or operator of such vehicle in accordance with the amounts specified in subsection D, together with applicable court costs, the operator’s administrative fee, and the toll due. Penalties assessed as the result of action initiated by the Department of Transportation shall be remanded by the clerk of the court that adjudicated the action to the Department of Transportation’s Toll Facilities Revolving Account. Penalties assessed as the result of action initiated by an operator of a toll facility other than the Department of Transportation shall be remanded by the clerk of the court that adjudicated the action to the treasurer or director of finance of the county or city in which the violation occurred for payment to the toll facility operator.The owner of such vehicle shall be given reasonable notice by way of a summons as provided in this subsection that his vehicle had been used in violation of this section, and such owner shall be given notice of the time and place of the hearing as well as the civil penalty and costs for such offense. The toll facility operator may offer to the owner an option to pay the unpaid toll and fees plus a reduced civil penalty of $ 25 for a first or second offense or $ 50 for a third, fourth, or subsequent offense, as specified on the summons, provided the owner actually pays to the toll facility operator the entire amount so calculated at least 14 days prior to the hearing date specified on the summons. If the owner accepts such offer and such amount is actually received by the toll facility operator at least 14 days prior to the hearing date specified on the summons, the toll facility operator shall move the court at least five business days prior to the date set for trial to dismiss the summons issued to the owner of the vehicle, and the court shall dismiss upon such motion.It shall be prima facie evidence that the vehicle described in the summons issued pursuant to this subsection was operated in violation of this section. Records obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to § 46.2-208 and certified in accordance with § 46.2-215 or from the equivalent agency in another state and certified as true and correct copies by the head of such agency or his designee identifying the owner of such vehicle shall give rise to a rebuttable presumption that the owner of the vehicle is the person named in the summons.Upon either (i) the filing of an affidavit with the toll facility operator within 14 days of receipt of an invoice for an unpaid toll from the toll facility operator or (ii) the filing of an affidavit with the court at least 14 days prior to the hearing date by the owner of the vehicle stating that he was not the operator of the vehicle on the date of the violation and providing the legal name and address of the operator of the vehicle at the time of the violation, an invoice and/or summons, as appropriate, will also be issued to the alleged operator of the vehicle at the time of the offense.In any action against a vehicle operator, an affidavit made by the owner providing the name and address of the vehicle operator at the time of the violation shall constitute prima facie evidence that the person named in the affidavit was operating the vehicle at all the relevant times relating to the matter named in the affidavit.If the owner of the vehicle produces for the toll facility operator or the court a certified copy of a police report showing that the vehicle had been reported to the police as stolen prior to the time of the alleged offense and remained stolen at the time of the alleged offense, then the toll facility operator shall not pursue the owner for the unpaid toll and, if a summons has been issued, the court shall dismiss the summons issued to the owner of the vehicle.

J. Upon a finding by a court that a person has two or more unpaid tolls and such person fails to pay the required penalties, fees, and unpaid tolls, the court shall notify the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, who shall refuse to issue or renew any vehicle registration certificate of any applicant or the license plate issued for the vehicle driven in the commission of the offense or, when the vehicle is registered in a state with which the Commonwealth has entered into an agreement to enforce tolling violations pursuant to § 46.2-819.9, who shall provide to the entity authorized to issue vehicle registration certificates or license plates in the state in which the vehicle is registered sufficient evidence of the court’s finding to take action against the vehicle registration certificate or license plates in accordance with the terms of the agreement, until the court has notified the Commissioner that such penalties, fees, and unpaid tolls have been paid. Upon receipt of such notification from the court, the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles shall notify the state where the vehicle is registered of such payment. If it is proven that the vehicle owner was not the operator at the time of the offense and upon a finding by a court that the person identified in an affidavit pursuant to subsection I as the operator violated this section and such person fails to pay the required penalties, fees, and unpaid tolls, the court shall notify the Commissioner, who shall refuse to issue or renew any vehicle registration certificate of any applicant or the license plate issued for any vehicle owned or co-owned by such person or, when such vehicle is registered in a state with which the Commonwealth has entered into an agreement to enforce tolling violations pursuant to § 46.2-819.9, who shall provide to the entity authorized to issue vehicle registration certificates or license plates in the state in which the vehicle is registered sufficient evidence of the court’s finding to take action against the vehicle registration certificate or license plates in accordance with the terms of the agreement, until the court has notified the Commissioner that such penalties, fees, and unpaid tolls have been paid. Upon receipt of such notification from the court, the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles shall notify the state where the vehicle is registered of such payment. Such funds representing payment of unpaid tolls and all administrative fees of the toll facility operator shall be transferred from the court to the Department of Transportation’s Toll Facilities Revolving Account or, in the case of an action initiated by an operator of a toll facility other than the Department of Transportation, to the treasurer or director of finance of the county or city in which the violation occurred for payment to the toll facility operator. The Commissioner shall collect a $ 40 administrative fee from the owner or operator of the vehicle to defray the cost of processing and removing an order to deny registration or registration renewal.

K. Any vehicle rental or vehicle leasing company, if it receives an invoice or is named in a summons, shall be released as a party to the action if it provides the operator of the toll facility a copy of the vehicle rental agreement or lease or an affidavit identifying the renter or lessee within 30 days of receipt of the invoice or at least 14 days prior to the date of hearing set forth in the summons. Upon receipt of such rental agreement, lease, or affidavit, a notice shall be mailed to the renter or lessee identified therein. Release of this information shall not be deemed a violation of any provision of the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (§ 2.2-3800 et seq.) or the Insurance Information and Privacy Protection Act (§ 38.2-600 et seq.). The toll facility operator shall allow at least 30 days from the date of such mailing before pursuing other remedies under this section. In any action against the vehicle operator, a copy of the vehicle rental agreement, lease, or affidavit identifying the renter or lessee of the vehicle at the time of the violation is prima facie evidence that the person named in the rental agreement, lease, or affidavit was operating the vehicle at all the relevant times relating to the matter named in the summons.

L. Imposition of a civil penalty pursuant to this section shall not be deemed a conviction as an operator and shall not be made part of the driving record of the person upon whom such civil penalty is imposed nor shall it be used for insurance purposes in the provision of motor vehicle insurance coverage. The provisions of § 46.2-395 shall not be applicable to any civil penalty, fee, unpaid toll, fine, or cost imposed or ordered paid under this section for a violation of this section.

M. The operator of a toll facility may enter into an agreement with the Department of Motor Vehicles, in accordance with the provisions of subdivision B 21 of § 46.2-208, to obtain vehicle owner information regarding the owners of vehicles that fail to pay tolls required for the use of toll facilities and with the Department of Transportation to obtain any information that is necessary to conduct electronic toll collection. Such agreement may include any information that may be obtained by the Department of Motor Vehicles in accordance with any agreement entered into pursuant to § 46.2-819.9. Information provided to the operator of a toll facility shall only be used for the collection of unpaid tolls and the operator of the toll facility shall be subject to the same conditions and penalties regarding release of the information as contained in subsection C.

N. No person shall be subject to both the provisions of this section and to prosecution under § 46.2-819 for actions arising out of the same transaction or occurrence.

History

1998, c. 802; 2001, cc. 803, 852; 2003, c. 768; 2004, c. 924; 2005, c. 862; 2006, c. 859; 2007, cc. 78, 200; 2010, c. 839; 2011, c. 736; 2016, c. 753.

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