40 CFR § 51.361 - Motorist compliance enforcement.

§ 51.361 Motorist compliance enforcement.

Compliance shall be ensured through the denial of motor vehicle registration in enhanced I/M programs unless an exception for use of an existing alternative is approved. An enhanced I/M area may use an existing alternative if it demonstrates that the alternative has been more effective than registration denial. An enforcement mechanism may be considered an “existing alternative” only in States that, for some area in the State, had an I/M program with that mechanism in operation prior to passage of the 1990 Amendments to the Act. A basic I/M area may use an alternative enforcement mechanism if it demonstrates that the alternative will be as effective as registration denial. Two other types of enforcement programs may qualify for enhanced I/M programs if demonstrated to have been more effective than enforcement of the registration requirement in the past: Sticker-based enforcement programs and computer-matching programs. States that did not adopt an I/M program for any area of the State before November 15, 1990, may not use an enforcement alternative in connection with an enhanced I/M program required to be adopted after that date.

(a) Registration denial. Registration denial enforcement is defined as rejecting an application for initial registration or reregistration of a used vehicle (i.e., a vehicle being registered after the initial retail sale and associated registration) unless the vehicle has complied with the I/M requirement prior to granting the application. Pursuant to section 207(g)(3) of the Act, nothing in this subpart shall be construed to require that new vehicles shall receive emission testing prior to initial retail sale. In designing its enforcement program, the State shall:

(1) Provide an external, readily visible means of determining vehicle compliance with the registration requirement to facilitate enforcement of the program;

(2) Adopt a schedule of testing (either annual or biennial) that clearly determines when a vehicle shall comply prior to registration;

(3) Design a testing certification mechanism (either paper-based or electronic) that shall be used for registration purposes and clearly indicates whether the certification is valid for purposes of registration, including:

(i) Expiration date of the certificate;

(ii) Unambiguous vehicle identification information; and

(iii) Whether the vehicle passed or received a waiver;

(4) Routinely issue citations to motorists with expired or missing license plates, with either no registration or an expired registration, and with no license plate decals or expired decals, and provide for enforcement officials other than police to issue citations (e.g., parking meter attendants) to parked vehicles in noncompliance;

(5) Structure the penalty system to deter non-compliance with the registration requirement through the use of mandatory minimum fines (meaning civil, monetary penalties, in this subpart) constituting a meaningful deterrent and through a requirement that compliance be demonstrated before a case can be closed;

(6) Ensure that evidence of testing is available and checked for validity at the time of a new registration of a used vehicle or registration renewal;

(7) Prevent owners or lessors from avoiding testing through manipulation of the title or registration system; title transfers may re-start the clock on the inspection cycle only if proof of current compliance is required at title transfer;

(8) Prevent the fraudulent initial classification or reclassification of a vehicle from subject to non-subject or exempt by requiring proof of address changes prior to registration record modification, and documentation from the testing program (or delegate) certifying based on a physical inspection that the vehicle is exempt;

(9) Limit and track the use of time extensions of the registration requirement to prevent repeated extensions;

(10) Provide for meaningful penalties for cases of registration fraud;

(11) Limit and track exemptions to prevent abuse of the exemption policy for vehicles claimed to be out-of-state; and

(12) Encourage enforcement of vehicle registration transfer requirements when vehicle owners move into the I/M area by coordinating with local and State enforcement agencies and structuring other activities (e.g., drivers license issuance) to effect registration transfers.

(b) Alternative enforcement mechanisms -

(1) General requirements. The program shall demonstrate that a non-registration-based enforcement program is currently more effective than registration-denial enforcement in enhanced I/M programs or, prospectively, as effective as registration denial in basic programs. The following general requirements shall apply:

(i) For enhanced I/M programs, the area in question shall have had an operating I/M program using the alternative mechanism prior to enactment of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. While modifications to improve compliance may be made to the program that was in effect at the time of enactment, the expected change in effectiveness cannot be considered in determining acceptability;

(ii) The State shall assess the alternative program's effectiveness, as well as the current effectiveness of the registration system, including the following:

(A) Determine the number and percentage of vehicles subject to the I/M program that were in compliance with the program over the course of at least one test cycle; and

(B) Determine the number and fraction of the same group of vehicles as in paragraph (b)(1)(ii)(A) of this section that were in compliance with the registration requirement over the same period. Late registration shall not be considered non-compliance for the purposes of this determination. The precise definition of late registration versus a non-complying vehicle shall be explained and justified in the SIP;

(iii) An alternative mechanism shall be considered more effective if the fraction of vehicles complying with the existing program, as determined according to the requirements of this section, is greater than the fraction of vehicles complying with the registration requirement. An alternative mechanism is as effective if the fraction complying with the program is at least equal to the fraction complying with the registration requirement.

(2) Sticker-based enforcement. In addition to the general requirements, a sticker-based enforcement program shall demonstrate that the enforcement mechanism will swiftly and effectively prevent operation of subject vehicles that fail to comply. Such demonstration shall include the following:

(i) An assessment of the current extent of the following forms of non-compliance and demonstration that mechanisms exist to keep such non-compliance within acceptable limits:

(A) Use of stolen, counterfeit, or fraudulently obtained stickers;

(B) In States with safety inspections, the use of “Safety Inspection Only” stickers on vehicles that should be subject to the I/M requirement as well; and

(C) Operation of vehicles with expired stickers, including a stratification of non-compliance by length of noncompliance and model year.

(ii) The program as currently implemented or as proposed to be improved shall also:

(A) Require an easily observed external identifier such as the county name on the license plate, an obviously unique license plate tab, or other means that shows whether or not a vehicle is subject to the I/M requirement;

(B) Require an easily observed external identifier, such as a windshield sticker or license plate tab that shows whether a subject vehicle is in compliance with the inspection requirement;

(C) Impose monetary fines at least as great as the estimated cost of compliance with I/M requirements (e.g., test fee plus minimum waiver expenditure) for the absence of such identifiers;

(D) Require that such identifiers be of a quality that makes them difficult to counterfeit, difficult to remove without destroying once installed, and durable enough to last until the next inspection without fading, peeling, or other deterioration;

(E) Perform surveys in a variety of locations and at different times for the presence of the required identifiers such that at least 10% of the vehicles or 10,000 vehicles (whichever is less) in the subject vehicle population are sampled each year;

(F) Track missing identifiers for all inspections performed at each station, with stations being held accountable for all such identifiers they are issued; and

(G) Assess and collect significant fines for each identifier that is unaccounted for by a station.

(3) Computer matching. In addition to the general requirements, computer-matching programs shall demonstrate that the enforcement mechanism will swiftly and effectively prevent operation of subject vehicles that fail to comply. Such demonstration shall:

(i) Require an expeditious system that results in at least 90% of the subject vehicles in compliance within 4 months of the compliance deadline;

(ii) Require that subject vehicles be given compliance deadlines based on the regularly scheduled test date, not the date of previous compliance;

(iii) Require that motorists pay monetary fines at least as great as the estimated cost of compliance with I/M requirements (e.g., test fee plus minimum waiver expenditure) for the continued operation of a noncomplying vehicle beyond 4 months of the deadline;

(iv) Require that continued non-compliance will eventually result in preventing operation of the non-complying vehicle (no later than the date of the next test cycle) through, at a minimum, suspension of vehicle registration and subsequent denial of reregistration;

(v) Demonstrate that the computer system currently in use is adequate to store and manipulate the I/M vehicle database, generate computerized notices, and provide regular backup to said system while maintaining auxiliary storage devices to insure ongoing operation of the system and prevent data losses;

(vi) Track each vehicle through the steps taken to ensure compliance, including:

(A) The compliance deadline;

(B) The date of initial notification;

(C) The dates warning letters are sent to non-complying vehicle owners;

(D) The dates notices of violation or other penalty notices are sent; and

(E) The dates and outcomes of other steps in the process, including the final compliance date;

(vii) Compile and report monthly summaries including statistics on the percentage of vehicles at each stage in the enforcement process; and

(viii) Track the number and percentage of vehicles initially identified as requiring testing but which are never tested as a result of being junked, sold to a motorist in a non-I/M program area, or for some other reason.

(c) SIP requirements.

(1) The SIP shall provide information concerning the enforcement process, including:

(i) A description of the existing compliance mechanism if it is to be used in the future and the demonstration that it is as effective or more effective than registration-denial enforcement;

(ii) An identification of the agencies responsible for performing each of the applicable activities in this section;

(iii) A description of and accounting for all classes of exempt vehicles; and

(iv) A description of the plan for testing fleet vehicles, rental car fleets, leased vehicles, and any other subject vehicles, e.g., those operated in (but not necessarily registered in) the program area.

(2) The SIP shall include a determination of the current compliance rate based on a study of the system that includes an estimate of compliance losses due to loopholes, counterfeiting, and unregistered vehicles. Estimates of the effect of closing such loopholes and otherwise improving the enforcement mechanism shall be supported with detailed analyses.

(3) The SIP shall include the legal authority to implement and enforce the program.

(4) The SIP shall include a commitment to an enforcement level to be used for modeling purposes and to be maintained, at a minimum, in practice.

[57 FR 52987, Nov. 5, 1992, as amended at 61 FR 49682, Sept. 23, 1996]

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