2003 WISCONSIN ACT 209
An Act to renumber 346.495 (1); to amend 346.01 (2); and to create 346.452, 346.49 (2r) and 346.495 (1) (b) of the statutes; relating to: vehicle owner liability for violations of certain traffic laws relating to railroad crossings and providing penalties.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:
346.01 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
346.01 (2) In this chapter, notwithstanding s. 340.01 (42), "owner" means, with respect to a vehicle that is registered, or is required to be registered, by a lessee of the vehicle under ch. 341, the lessee of the vehicle for purposes of vehicle owner liability under ss. 346.175, 346.195, 346.205, 346.452, 346.457, 346.465, 346.485, 346.505 (3), and 346.945.
346.452 of the statutes is created to read:
346.452 Owner's liability for vehicle illegally crossing at a railroad crossing. (1) Subject to s. 346.01 (2), the owner of a vehicle involved in a violation of s. 346.44 or 346.45 shall be liable for the violation as provided in this section.
(2) A railroad employee who observes a violation of s. 346.44 or 346.45 may prepare a written report indicating that a violation has occurred. If possible, the report shall contain the following information:
(a) The violation alleged.
(b) The time and the approximate location at which the violation occurred.
(c) The license number and color of the vehicle involved in the violation.
(d) Identification of the vehicle as an automobile, station wagon, motor truck, motor bus, motorcycle, or other type of vehicle.
(3) Within 24 hours after observing the violation, the railroad employee may deliver the report to a traffic officer of the county or municipality in which the violation occurred. A report which does not contain all of the information in sub. (2) shall nevertheless be delivered and shall be maintained by the county or municipality for statistical purposes.
(4) (a) Within 48 hours after receiving a report containing all of the information in sub. (2) and after verifying the information provided under sub. (2) (c) and (d), the traffic officer may prepare a uniform traffic citation under s. 345.11 and may personally serve it upon the owner of the vehicle.
(b) If with reasonable diligence the owner cannot be served under par. (a), service may be made by leaving a copy of the citation at the owner's usual place of abode within this state in the presence of a competent member of the family at least 14 years of age, who shall be informed of the contents thereof.
(c) If with reasonable diligence the owner cannot be served under par. (a) or (b) or if the owner lives outside of the jurisdiction of the issuing authority, service may be made by certified mail addressed to the owner's last-known address.
(d) In addition to serving the person with the citation under par. (a), (b), or (c), the serving agency shall include a notice that informs the person that he or she may petition the court for a change of venue; of the court costs required for petitioning for a change of venue; and of the procedures for petitioning the court for a change of venue.
(4m) The venue for the action shall be in the county where the violation occurred, except that the venue shall be in the county where the person is a resident if he or she is a resident of the state and he or she petitions the court for a change of venue to his or her county of residence.
(5) (a) Except as provided in par. (b), it shall be no defense to a violation of this section that the owner was not operating the vehicle at the time of the violation.
(b) The following are defenses to a violation of this section:
1. That a report that the vehicle was stolen was given to a traffic officer before the violation occurred or within a reasonable time after the violation occurred.
2. If the owner of the vehicle provides a traffic officer with the name and address of the person operating the vehicle at the time of the violation and the person so named admits operating the vehicle at the time of the violation, then the person operating the vehicle and not the owner shall be charged under this section.
3. If the vehicle is owned by a lessor of vehicles and at the time of the violation the vehicle was in the possession of a lessee, and the lessor provides a traffic officer with the information required under s. 343.46 (3), then the lessee and not the lessor shall be charged under this section.
4. If the vehicle is owned by a dealer as defined in s. 340.01 (11) (intro.) but including the persons specified in s. 340.01 (11) (a) to (d), and at the time of the violation the vehicle was being operated by any person on a trial run, and if the dealer provides a traffic officer with the name, address, and operator's license number of the person operating the vehicle, then the person operating the vehicle, and not the dealer, shall be charged under this section.
346.49 (2r) of the statutes is created to read:
346.49 (2r) (a) A vehicle owner or other person found liable under s. 346.452 with respect to a violation of s. 346.44 may be required to forfeit not more than $1,000, except that, if the vehicle involved in the violation was a bicycle, the bicycle owner or other person may be required to forfeit not more than $40.
(b) A vehicle owner or other person found liable under s. 346.452 with respect to a violation of s. 346.45 shall forfeit not less than $60 nor more than $600.
(c) Imposition of liability under s. 346.452 shall not result in suspension or revocation of a person's operating license under s. 343.30 or 343.31, nor shall it result in demerit points being recorded on a person's driving record under s. 343.32 (2) (a).
346.495 (1) of the statutes is renumbered 346.495 (1) (a).
346.495 (1) (b) of the statutes is created to read:
346.495 (1) (b) If a court imposes a forfeiture under s. 346.49 (2r) with respect to a violation of s. 346.44 or 346.45, the court shall also impose a railroad crossing improvement assessment equal to 50% of the amount of the forfeiture.