House Bill No. 346
Introduced By tropila, rose, ryan, carey, mccann
A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act generally revising the laws relating to mandatory motor vehicle insurance; requiring
proof of compliance with the financial responsibility law before a motor vehicle may be registered; requiring suspension of
a driver's license upon a fourth conviction;
requiring an insurance company to notify the department of justice of the
cancellation or nonrenewal of a motor vehicle liability policy; and amending sections 61-5-206, 61-6-302, and 61-6-304,
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
Section 1. Section 61-5-206, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-5-206. Authority of department to suspend license or driving privilege or issue probationary license. (1) The department may suspend the driver's license or driving privilege of a driver without preliminary hearing upon a showing by its records or other sufficient evidence that the licensee:
(a) has been involved as a driver in any accident resulting in the death or personal injury of another or serious property damage;
(b) has been convicted with such frequency of serious offenses against traffic regulations governing the movement of vehicles as to indicate a disrespect for traffic laws and a disregard for the safety of other persons on the highways;
an a habitually reckless or negligent driver of a motor vehicle;
(d) is incompetent to drive a motor vehicle;
(e) has committed or permitted an unlawful or fraudulent use of the license as specified in 61-5-302;
(f) has committed an offense in another state
which that if committed in this state would be grounds for suspension or
(g) has falsified the licensee's date of birth on the application for a driver's license;
(h) is under 21 years of age and has altered the licensee's or another's driver's license or identification card to obtain alcohol; or
(i) has authorized another to use the licensee's driver's license or identification card to obtain alcohol.
(2) The department shall suspend the driver's license of a driver without a preliminary hearing upon a showing that the licensee was not in compliance with 61-6-301. The department may not issue a probationary license to a driver whose license was suspended under this subsection.
(2)(3) However, the department may, in its discretion and in lieu of suspending the license or driving privilege, issue a
probationary license to a driver, without preliminary hearing, upon a showing by its records or other sufficient evidence
that the licensee's driving record is such as would authorize suspension as provided in subsection (1). Upon issuance of a
probationary license, the licensee is subject to the restrictions set forth in the probationary license. The licensee's driving
privilege may be suspended upon conviction or forfeiture of bail not vacated of any traffic violation during the period of
probation. The licensee shall surrender to the department all driver's licenses that have been issued to the licensee before
the probationary license may be issued. The licensee's refusal or neglect to surrender the licenses upon demand is grounds
for suspending all licenses. Probationary licenses may be issued for a period not to exceed 12 months. (3)(4) Upon suspending the license of any person or upon placing the person on probation, as authorized in this section, the
department shall immediately notify the licensee in writing and upon the licensee's request shall afford the licensee an
opportunity for a hearing as early as practical within not to exceed 20 days after receipt of the request in the county in
which the licensee resides unless the department and the licensee agree that the hearing may be held in some other county.
At the hearing, the department through its authorized agent may administer oaths and may issue subpoenas for the
attendance of witnesses and the production of relevant books and papers and may require a reexamination of the licensee.
At the hearing, the department shall either rescind its order of suspension or probation , or, for good cause, may affirm,
reduce, or extend the period of probation or suspension of the license."
Section 2. Section 61-6-302, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-6-302. Proof of compliance. (1)
The registration receipt required by 61-3-322 must contain a statement that unless
the vehicle is eligible for an exemption under 61-6-303, it is unlawful to operate the vehicle without a valid motor vehicle
liability insurance policy, a certificate of self-insurance, or a posted indemnity bond, as required by 61-6-301. Except as
provided in subsection (2), before an applicant required to register a motor vehicle may do so, the applicant shall certify to
the county treasurer that the applicant possesses an automobile liability insurance policy, a certificate of self-insurance, or a
posted indemnity bond or that the applicant is eligible for an exemption under 61-6-303 covering the motor vehicle. The
certification must be on a form prescribed by the department. The department may immediately cancel the registration and
license plates of the vehicle upon notification that the insurance certification was not correctly represented. A person who
intentionally provides false information on an insurance certification is guilty of unsworn falsification to authorities,
punishable as provided in 45-7-203.
(2) An applicant for registration of a motor vehicle who wishes to register the vehicle by mail shall sign a statement on the application stating that the applicant is in compliance with the financial liability requirements of 61-6-301.
(3) (a) An owner of a motor vehicle who ceases to maintain the insurance or bond required or whose certificate of self-insurance is canceled or whose vehicle ceases to be exempt shall immediately surrender the registration and license plates for the vehicle to the county treasurer for delivery to the department.
(b) If the department receives a cancellation or nonrenewal notice from an insurer as provided in [section 4], the department
shall order the surrender of the registration and license plates. (c)(B) The owner may not operate or permit operation of the vehicle in Montana until insurance has again been furnished as
required and the vehicle is again registered and licensed. (2)(4) Each person shall carry in a motor vehicle being operated by the person an insurance card approved by the
department but issued by the insurance carrier to the motor vehicle owner as proof of compliance with 61-6-301. A motor
vehicle operator shall exhibit the insurance card upon demand of a justice of the peace, a city or municipal judge, a peace
officer, a highway patrol officer, or a field deputy or inspector of the department. A person commits an offense under this
subsection if the person fails to carry the insurance card in a motor vehicle or fails to exhibit the insurance card upon
demand of a person specified in this subsection. However, a person charged with violating this subsection may not be
convicted if the person produces in court or the office of the arresting officer proof of insurance valid at the time of arrest."
Section 3. Section 61-6-304, MCA, is amended to read:
"61-6-304. Penalties. (1) Conviction of a first offense under 61-6-301 or 61-6-302 is punishable by a fine of not less than $250 or more than $500 or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 10 days, or both. A second conviction is punishable by a fine of $350 or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 10 days, or both. A third or subsequent conviction is punishable by a fine of $500 or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 6 months, or both.
(2) Upon a second or subsequent conviction under 61-6-301 or 61-6-302, the sentencing court shall order the surrender of the vehicle registration receipt and license plates for the vehicle operated at the time of the offense if that vehicle was operated by the registered owner or a member of the registered owner's immediate family or by a person whose operation of that vehicle was authorized by the registered owner. The court shall send the receipt and plates, along with a copy of the complaint and dispositional order, to the department, which shall immediately suspend the receipt and plates for a period of 90 days from the date of a second conviction or 180 days from the date of a third or subsequent conviction. The receipt and plates may not be reinstated until the expiration of that period, but if the vehicle is transferred to a new owner, the new owner is entitled to register the vehicle.
(3) Upon a fourth and subsequent conviction under 61-6-301 or 61-6-302, the court shall order the surrender of the driver's license of the registered owner of the vehicle. The court shall send the driver's license, along with a copy of the complaint and the dispositional order, to the department, which shall immediately suspend the driver's license until the registered owner provides proof of compliance with 61-6-301. At that time, the owner may apply for a new driver's license as provided by law.
(3)(4) The court may suspend a required fine only upon a determination that the offender is or will be unable to pay the
fine. (4)(5) A court may not defer imposition of penalties provided by this section." NEW SECTION. Section 4. Notification of cancellation or nonrenewal. If an insurer cancels or does not renew a motor
vehicle liability policy after complying with the provisions of 33-23-212 and 33-23-214, the insurer shall send a copy of the
cancellation or nonrenewal notice to the department of justice. NEW SECTION. Section 5. Codification instruction. [Section 4] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title
33, chapter 23, part 2, and the provisions of Title 33, chapter 23, part 2, apply to [section 4].