75-11-525. Administrative penalties for violations -- appeals -- venue. (1) (a) A person who violates any of the provisions of this part or any rules promulgated under the authority of this part may be assessed and ordered by the department to pay an administrative penalty not to exceed $500 for each violation. This limitation on administrative penalties applies only to penalties assessed under this section. Each occurrence of the violation and each day that it remains uncorrected constitutes a separate violation. The department may suspend a portion of the administrative penalty assessed under this section if the condition that caused the assessment of the penalty is corrected within a specified time. Assessment of an administrative penalty under this section may be made in conjunction with any order or other administrative action authorized by this chapter.
(b) Penalties assessed under this subsection (1) must be determined in accordance with the penalty factors in 75-1-1001.
(2) When the department assesses an administrative penalty under this section, it must have written notice served personally or by certified mail on the alleged violator or the violator's agent. For purposes of this chapter, service by mail is complete on the day of receipt. The notice must state:
(a) the provision alleged to be violated;
(b) the facts alleged to constitute the violation;
(c) the amount of the administrative penalty assessed under this section;
(d) the amount, if any, of the penalty to be suspended upon correction of the condition that caused the assessment of the penalty;
(e) the nature of any corrective action that the department requires, whether or not a portion of the penalty is to be suspended;
(f) as applicable, the time within which the corrective action is to be taken and the time within which the administrative penalty is to be paid; and
(g) the right to appeal or to a hearing to mitigate the penalty assessed.
(3) A person assessed a penalty under this section may request a hearing before the board to either contest the alleged violation or request mitigation of the penalty. The contested case provisions of the Montana Administrative Procedure Act, provided for in Title 2, chapter 4, part 6, apply to a hearing conducted under this section. If a hearing is held under this section, it must be held in the county in which the alleged violation occurred.
(4) If the department is unable to collect an administrative penalty assessed under this section or if a person fails to pay all or any portion of an administrative penalty assessed under this section, the department may take action in district court to recover the penalty amount and any additional amounts assessed or sought under this chapter. The action must be brought in the district court of the county in which the violation occurred.
(5) Action under this section does not bar action under this chapter or any other remedy available to the department for violations of underground storage tank laws or rules promulgated under those laws.
(6) Administrative penalties collected under this section must be deposited in the state general fund.