Bill Text: NJ S3338 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Imposes certain requirements on motor vehicle rental companies that equip vehicles with electronic toll transponders.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-01-17 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Commerce Committee [S3338 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S3338-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 3338

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JANUARY 17, 2019

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  TROY SINGLETON

District 7 (Burlington)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Imposes certain requirements on motor vehicle rental companies that equip vehicles with electronic toll transponders.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning rented motor vehicles and supplementing P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.).

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  As used in this section:

     "Rental company" means a person engaged in the business of renting motor vehicles to the general public at retail, including renting vehicles on an hourly, daily, per trip, or other short-term basis.

     "Renter" means a person renting a motor vehicle from a rental company.

     b.    A rental company which equips a vehicle with an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device shall allow a renter to: (1) opt-out of its use; or (2) use an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device owned by the renter.

      c.    A rental company may charge a renter a fee of up to three times the amount of the actual cost incurred by the company for any toll, up to a maximum of $5, if the renter:

     (1)  opts-out of the use of an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device offered by the rental company;

     (2)  drives through an electronic toll collection system for which there is not an option for cash payment; and

     (3)  does not use an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device owned by the renter for the payment of the toll.

     If a rental company charges a fee pursuant to this subsection, the rental company shall not charge any additional fees.

     d.    A rental company that provides or offers renters a motor vehicle equipped with an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or similar electronic toll collection device shall clearly and conspicuously include the applicable terms and conditions of its use, including all charges associated with the use of the electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device, in the rental agreement issued to the renter, and post any applicable terms and conditions in a conspicuous location on the business premises. 

     The rental company shall obtain a signed written agreement from a renter who chooses to use an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device provided by the rental company.

     The rental company also shall inform a renter of the ability to opt-out of the use of an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device provided or offered by the rental company or use an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device owned by the renter and provide appropriate instructions.

     e.    A violation of this section is an unlawful practice pursuant to P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.).

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately and shall be applicable to motor vehicle rental transactions occurring on or after the 30th day after the date of enactment; except that subsection c. of section 1 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall remain inoperative until there is one additional toll collection facility in which there is not an option for cash payment operated by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, or their successors.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill imposes certain requirements on motor vehicle rental companies that equip vehicles with electronic toll transponders, such as E-ZPass, and makes a violation of the bill's provisions an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act.

     Specifically, under the bill, a rental company which equips a vehicle with an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device is required to allow a renter to opt-out of its use or use a transponder or other device owned by the renter. 

     In addition, the bill provides that a rental company may charge a renter a fee of up to three times the amount of the actual cost incurred by the company for any toll, up to a maximum of $5, if the renter: 1) opts-out of the use of an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device offered by the rental company; 2) drives through an electronic toll collection system for which there is not an option for cash payment; and 3) does not use an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device owned by the renter for the payment of the toll.  Under the bill, if a rental company charges this fee, the company is prohibited from charging any additional fees.  This provision is to remain inoperative until there is one additional toll collection facility in which there is not an option for cash payment operated by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, or their successors.

     Finally, the bill requires any rental company providing or offering vehicles equipped with electronic vehicle identification system transponders to clearly and conspicuously include the applicable terms and conditions of its use, including all charges associated with the use of the electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device, in any rental agreement issued to a renter, and post any applicable terms and conditions in a conspicuous location on the business premises.  The rental company is required to obtain a signed written agreement from a renter who chooses to use an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device provided by the rental company.

     The rental company is also required to inform a renter of his or her ability to opt-out of the use of an electronic vehicle identification system transponder or other electronic toll collection device provided or offered by the rental company, or use a transponder or other device owned by the renter and provide appropriate instructions.

     Under the bill, a violation of any of these provisions by the rental company is an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act.  An unlawful practice is punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense.  In addition, violations may result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages, and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.

     The bill recognizes that consumers may be unaware of the significant cost of renting a vehicle in an area with many toll roads, and rental car companies do not always clearly and conspicuously state electronic toll policies or estimate costs. Out-of-town visitors often drive rental cars on major highways that assess tolls, and incur surprisingly significant charges due to the additional fees imposed under the rental agreement.  Consumers who do not rent a transponder in order to avoid a charge by a rental company may encounter a problem if they are unable to pay cash at a particular toll plaza with no cash lanes. Because consumers view these charges as price gouging, they are demanding action against these rental practices.

feedback