2007 Regular Session
To: Transportation; Appropriations
By: Representative Chism
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 63-9-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE TRAFFIC SAFETY VIOLATOR COURSES TO BE CONDUCTED OVER THE INTERNET; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 63-9-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
63-9-11. (1) It is a misdemeanor for any person to violate any of the provisions of Chapter 3, 5 or 7 of this title, unless such violation is by such chapters or other law of this state declared to be a felony.
(2) Every person convicted of a misdemeanor for a violation of any of the provisions of such chapters for which another penalty is not provided shall for first conviction thereof be punished by a fine of not more than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) or by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) days; for a second such conviction within one (1) year thereafter such person shall be punished by a fine of not more than Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) or by imprisonment for not more than twenty (20) days or by both such fine and imprisonment; upon a third or subsequent conviction within one (1) year after the first conviction such person shall be punished by a fine of not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(3) (a) Whenever a person not covered under Section 63-1-55 is charged with a misdemeanor violation of any of the provisions of Chapter 3, 5 or 7 of this title, the person shall be eligible to participate in not less than four (4) hours of a traffic safety violator course and thereby have no record of the violation on the person's driving record if the person meets all the following conditions:
(i) The defendant has a valid Mississippi driver's license or permit.
(ii) The defendant has not had a conviction of a violation under Chapter 3, 5 or 7 of this title within three (3) years before the current offense; any conviction entered before October 1, 2002, does not constitute a prior offense for the purposes of this subsection (3).
(iii) The defendant's public and nonpublic driving record as maintained by the Department of Public Safety does not indicate successful completion of a traffic safety violator course under this section in the three-year period before the offense.
(iv) The defendant files an affidavit with the court stating that this is the defendant's first conviction in more than three (3) years or since October 1, 2002, whichever is the lesser period of time; the defendant is not in the process of taking a course under this section; and the defendant has not completed a course under this section that is not yet reflected on the defendant's public or nonpublic driving record.
(v) The offense charged is for a misdemeanor offense under Chapter 3, 5 or 7 of this title.
(vi) The defendant pays the applicable fine, costs and any assessments required by law to be paid upon conviction of such an offense.
(vii) The defendant pays to the court an additional fee of Ten Dollars ($10.00) to elect to proceed under the provisions of this subsection (3).
(b) (i) 1. An eligible defendant may enter a plea of nolo contendere or guilty in person or in writing and present to the court, in person or by mail postmarked on or before the appearance date on the citation, an oral or written request to participate in a course under this subsection (3).
2. The court shall withhold acceptance of the plea and defer sentencing in order to allow the eligible defendant ninety (90) days to successfully complete not less than four (4) hours of a court-approved traffic safety violator course at the cost of the defendant. Upon proof of successful completion entered with the court, the court shall dismiss the prosecution and direct that the case be closed. The only record maintained thereafter shall be the nonpublic record required under Section 63-9-17 solely for use by the courts in determining eligibility under this subsection (3).
(ii) If a person pleads not guilty to a misdemeanor offense under any of the provisions of Chapter 3, 5 or 7 of this title but is convicted, and the person meets all the requirements under paragraph (a) of this subsection, upon request of the defendant the court shall suspend the sentence for such offense to allow the defendant forty-five (45) days to successfully complete not less than four (4) hours of a court-approved traffic safety violator course at his own cost. Upon successful completion by the defendant of the course, the court shall set the conviction aside, dismiss the prosecution and direct that the case be closed. The court on its own motion shall expunge the record of the conviction, and the only record maintained thereafter shall be the nonpublic record required under Section 63-9-17 solely for use by the courts in determining an offender's eligibility under this subsection (3).
(c) An out-of-state resident shall be allowed to complete a substantially similar program in his home state, province or country provided the requirements of this subsection (3) are met, except that the necessary valid driver's license or permit shall be one issued by the home jurisdiction.
(d) A court shall not approve a traffic safety violator course under this subsection (3) unless the court is satisfied that the course provides:
(i) At least four (4) hours of instruction; (ii) An appropriate curriculum;
(iii) Some scientifically verifiable analysis of the effectiveness of the curriculum; and
(iv) Minimum qualifications for instructors.
A traffic safety violator course may be conducted over the Internet if the course meets the requirements of this paragraph (d).
(e) A court shall inform a defendant making inquiry or entering a personal appearance of the provisions of this subsection (3).
(f) The Department of Public Safety shall cause notice of the provisions of this subsection (3) to be available on its official web site.
(g) Failure of a defendant to elect to come under the provisions of this subsection (3) for whatever reason, in and of itself, shall not invalidate a conviction.
(h) No employee of the sentencing court shall personally benefit from a defendant's attendance of a traffic safety violator course. Violation of this prohibition shall result in termination of employment.
(i) The additional fee of Ten Dollars ($10.00) imposed under this subsection (3) shall be forwarded by the court clerk to the State Treasurer for deposit into a special fund created in the State Treasury. Monies in the special fund may be expended by the Department of Public Safety, upon legislative appropriation, to defray the costs incurred by the department in maintaining the nonpublic record of persons who are eligible for participation under the provisions of this subsection (3).
(4) The provisions of subsection (3) of this section shall not be applicable to violation of any of the provisions of Chapter 3, 5 or 7 of this title committed by the holder of a commercial driver's license issued under the Mississippi Commercial Driver's License Law, regardless of whether the violation occurred while operating a commercial motor vehicle or some other motor vehicle.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.