Collapse to view only § 32504. Certificates of compliance

§ 32501. Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to reduce economic loss resulting from damage to passenger motor vehicles involved in motor vehicle accidents by providing for the maintenance and enforcement of bumper standards.

(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1042.)
§ 32502. Bumper standards
(a)General Requirements and Nonapplication.—The Secretary of Transportation shall prescribe by regulation bumper standards for passenger motor vehicles and may prescribe by regulation bumper standards for passenger motor vehicle equipment manufactured in, or imported into, the United States. A standard does not apply to a passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle equipment—
(1) intended only for export;
(2) labeled for export on the vehicle or equipment and the outside of any container of the vehicle or equipment; and
(3) exported.
(b)Limitations.—A standard under this section—
(1) may not conflict with a motor vehicle safety standard prescribed under chapter 301 of this title;
(2) may not specify a dollar amount for the cost of repairing damage to a passenger motor vehicle; and
(3) to the greatest practicable extent, may not preclude the attachment of a detachable hitch.
(c)Exemptions.—For good cause, the Secretary may exempt from all or any part of a standard—
(1) a multipurpose passenger vehicle;
(2) a make, model, or class of a passenger motor vehicle manufactured for a special use, if the standard would interfere unreasonably with the special use of the vehicle; or
(3) a passenger motor vehicle for which an application for an exemption under section 30013(b) 1
1 So in original. Probably should be section “30113(b)”.
of this title has been filed in accordance with the requirements of that section.
(d)Cost Reduction and Considerations.—When prescribing a standard under this section, the Secretary shall design the standard to obtain the maximum feasible reduction of costs to the public, considering—
(1) the costs and benefits of carrying out the standard;
(2) the effect of the standard on insurance costs and legal fees and costs;
(3) savings in consumer time and inconvenience; and
(4) health and safety, including emission standards.
(e)Procedures.—Section 553 of title 5 applies to a standard prescribed under this section. However, the Secretary shall give an interested person an opportunity to make oral and written presentations of information, views, and arguments. A transcript of each oral presentation shall be kept. Under conditions prescribed by the Secretary, the Secretary may conduct a hearing to resolve an issue of fact material to a standard.
(f)Effective Date.—The Secretary shall prescribe an effective date for a standard under this section. That date may not be earlier than the date the standard is prescribed nor later than 18 months after the date the standard is prescribed. However, the Secretary may prescribe a later date when the Secretary submits to Congress and publishes the reasons for the later date. A standard only applies to a passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle equipment manufactured on or after the effective date.
(g)Research.—The Secretary shall conduct research necessary to carry out this chapter.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1042; Pub. L. 105–277, div. A, § 101(g) [title III, § 351(b)(1)], Oct. 21, 1998, 112 Stat. 2681–439, 2681–476.)
§ 32503. Judicial review of bumper standards
(a)Filing and Venue.—A person that may be adversely affected by a standard prescribed under section 32502 of this title may apply for review of the standard by filing a petition for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit or in the court of appeals of the United States for the circuit in which the person resides or has its principal place of business. The petition must be filed not later than 59 days after the standard is prescribed.
(b)Notifying Secretary.—The clerk of the court shall send immediately a copy of the petition to the Secretary of Transportation. The Secretary shall file with the court a record of the proceeding in which the standard was prescribed.
(c)Additional Proceedings.—
(1) On request of the petitioner, the court may order the Secretary to receive additional evidence and evidence in rebuttal if the court is satisfied the additional evidence is material and there were reasonable grounds for not presenting the evidence in the proceeding before the Secretary.
(2) The Secretary may modify findings of fact or make new findings because of the additional evidence presented. The Secretary shall file a modified or new finding, a recommendation to modify or set aside a standard, and the additional evidence with the court.
(d)Supreme Court Review and Additional Remedies.—A judgment of a court under this section may be reviewed only by the Supreme Court under section 1254 of title 28. A remedy under this section is in addition to any other remedies provided by law.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1043.)
§ 32504. Certificates of compliance

Under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Transportation, a manufacturer or distributor of a passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle equipment subject to a standard prescribed under section 32502 of this title shall give the distributor or dealer at the time of delivery a certificate that the vehicle or equipment complies with the standard.

(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1044.)
§ 32505. Information and compliance requirements
(a)General Authority.—
(1) To enable the Secretary of Transportation to decide whether a manufacturer of passenger motor vehicles or passenger motor vehicle equipment is complying with this chapter and standards prescribed under this chapter, the Secretary may require the manufacturer to—
(A) keep records;
(B) make reports;
(C) provide items and information, including vehicles and equipment for testing at a negotiated price not more than the manufacturer’s cost; and
(D) allow an officer or employee designated by the Secretary to inspect vehicles and relevant records of the manufacturer.
(2) To enforce this chapter, an officer or employee designated by the Secretary, on presenting appropriate credentials and a written notice to the owner, operator, or agent in charge, may inspect a facility in which passenger motor vehicles or passenger motor vehicle equipment is manufactured, held for introduction in interstate commerce, or held for sale after introduction in interstate commerce. An inspection shall be conducted at a reasonable time, in a reasonable way, and with reasonable promptness.
(b)Powers of Secretary and Civil Actions To Enforce.—
(1) In carrying out this chapter, the Secretary may—
(A) inspect and copy records of any person at reasonable times;
(B) order a person to file written reports or answers to specific questions, including reports or answers under oath; and
(C) conduct hearings, administer oaths, take testimony, and require (by subpena or otherwise) the appearance and testimony of witnesses and the production of records the Secretary considers advisable.
(2) A witness summoned under this subsection is entitled to the same fee and mileage the witness would have been paid in a court of the United States.
(3) A civil action to enforce a subpena or order of the Secretary under this subsection may be brought in the United States district court for any judicial district in which the proceeding by the Secretary is conducted. The court may punish a failure to obey an order of the court to comply with the subpena or order of the Secretary as a contempt of court.
(c)Confidentiality of Information.—
(1) Information obtained by the Secretary under this chapter related to a confidential matter referred to in section 1905 of title 18 may be disclosed only—
(A) to another officer or employee of the United States Government for use in carrying out this chapter; or
(B) in a proceeding under this chapter.
(2) This subsection does not authorize information to be withheld from a committee of Congress authorized to have the information.
(3) Subject to paragraph (1) of this subsection, the Secretary, on request, shall make available to the public at cost information the Secretary submits or receives in carrying out this chapter.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1044; Pub. L. 103–429, § 6(32), Oct. 31, 1994, 108 Stat. 4380.)
§ 32506. Prohibited acts
(a)General.—Except as provided in this section and section 32502 of this title, a person may not—
(1) manufacture for sale, sell, offer for sale, introduce or deliver for introduction in interstate commerce, or import into the United States, a passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle equipment manufactured on or after the date an applicable standard under section 32502 of this title takes effect, unless it conforms to the standard;
(2) fail to comply with an applicable regulation prescribed by the Secretary of Transportation under this chapter;
(3) fail to keep records, refuse access to or copying of records, fail to make reports or provide items or information, or fail or refuse to allow entry or inspection, as required by this chapter or a regulation prescribed under this chapter; or
(4) fail to provide the certificate required by section 32504 of this title, or provide a certificate that the person knows, or in the exercise of reasonable care has reason to know, is false or misleading in a material respect.
(b)Nonapplication.—Subsection (a)(1) of this section does not apply to—
(1) the sale, offer for sale, or introduction or delivery for introduction in interstate commerce of a passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle equipment after the first purchase of the vehicle or equipment in good faith other than for resale (but this clause does not prohibit a standard from requiring that a vehicle or equipment be manufactured to comply with the standard over a specified period of operation or use); or
(2) a person—
(A) establishing that the person had no reason to know, by exercising reasonable care, that the vehicle or equipment does not comply with the standard; or
(B) holding, without knowing about a noncompliance and before that first purchase, a certificate issued under section 32504 of this title stating that the vehicle or equipment complies with the standard.
(c)Importing Noncomplying Vehicles and Equipment.—
(1) The Secretaries of Transportation and the Treasury may prescribe joint regulations authorizing a passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle equipment not complying with a standard prescribed under section 32502 of this title to be imported into the United States subject to conditions (including providing a bond) the Secretaries consider appropriate to ensure that the vehicle or equipment will—
(A) comply, after importation, with the standards prescribed under section 32502 of this title;
(B) be exported; or
(C) be abandoned to the United States Government.
(2) The Secretaries may prescribe joint regulations that allow a passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle equipment to be imported into the United States after the first purchase in good faith other than for resale.
(d)Liability Under Other Law.—Compliance with a standard under this chapter does not exempt a person from liability provided by law.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1045; Pub. L. 105–277, div. A, § 101(g) [title III, § 351(b)(2)], Oct. 21, 1998, 112 Stat. 2681–439, 2681–476.)
§ 32507. Penalties and enforcement
(a)Civil Penalty.—
(1) A person that violates section 32506(a) of this title is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 for each violation. A separate violation occurs for each passenger motor vehicle or item of passenger motor vehicle equipment involved in a violation of section 32506(a)(1) or (4) of this title—
(A) that does not comply with a standard prescribed under section 32502 of this title; or
(B) for which a certificate is not provided, or for which a false or misleading certificate is provided, under section 32504 of this title.
(2) The maximum civil penalty under this subsection for a related series of violations is $800,000.
(3) The Secretary of Transportation imposes a civil penalty under this subsection. The Attorney General or the Secretary, with the concurrence of the Attorney General, shall bring a civil action in a United States district court to collect the penalty.
(b)Criminal Penalty.—A person knowingly and willfully violating section 32506(a)(1) of this title after receiving a notice of noncompliance from the Secretary shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. If the person is a corporation, the penalties of this subsection also apply to a director, officer, or individual agent of the corporation who, with knowledge of the Secretary’s notice, knowingly and willfully authorizes, orders, or performs an act that is any part of the violation.
(c)Civil Actions To Enforce.—
(1) The Secretary or the Attorney General may bring a civil action in a United States district court to enjoin a violation of this chapter or the sale, offer for sale, introduction or delivery for introduction in interstate commerce, or importation into the United States, of a passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle equipment that is found, before the first purchase in good faith other than for resale, not to comply with a standard prescribed under section 32502 of this title.
(2) When practicable, the Secretary shall—
(A) notify a person against whom an action under this subsection is planned;
(B) give the person an opportunity to present that person’s views; and
(C) except for a knowing and willful violation, give the person a reasonable opportunity to comply.
(3) The failure of the Secretary to comply with paragraph (2) of this subsection does not prevent a court from granting appropriate relief.
(d)Jury Trial Demand.—In a trial for criminal contempt for violating an injunction or restraining order issued under subsection (c) of this section, the violation of which is also a violation of this chapter, the defendant may demand a jury trial. The defendant shall be tried as provided in rule 42(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (18 App. U.S.C.).
(e)Venue.—A civil action under subsection (a) or (c) of this section may be brought in the judicial district in which the violation occurred or the defendant is found, resides, or does business. Process in the action may be served in any other judicial district in which the defendant resides or is found. A subpena for a witness in the action may be served in any judicial district.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1046.)
§ 32508. Civil actions by owners of passenger motor vehicles

When an owner of a passenger motor vehicle sustains damages as a result of a motor vehicle accident because the vehicle did not comply with a standard prescribed under section 32502 of this title, the owner may bring a civil action against the manufacturer to recover the damages. The action may be brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or in the United States district court for the judicial district in which the owner resides. The action must be brought not later than 3 years after the date of the accident. The court shall award costs and a reasonable attorney’s fee to the owner when a judgment is entered for the owner.

(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1047.)
§ 32509.
(a)General Authority.—The Secretary of Transportation may request information necessary to carry out this chapter from a department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States Government. The head of the department, agency, or instrumentality shall provide the information.
(b)Detailing Personnel.—The head of a department, agency, or instrumentality may detail, on a reimbursable basis, personnel to assist the Secretary in carrying out this chapter.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1047.)
[§ 32510. Repealed. Pub. L. 105–362, title XV, § 1501(e)(1), Nov. 10, 1998, 112 Stat. 3294]
§ 32511. Relationship to other motor vehicle standards
(a)Preemption.—Except as provided in this section, a State or a political subdivision of a State may prescribe or enforce a bumper standard for a passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle equipment only if the standard is identical to a standard prescribed under section 32502 of this title.
(b)Enforcement.—This chapter and chapter 301 of this title do not affect the authority of a State to enforce a bumper standard about an aspect of performance of a passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle equipment not covered by a standard prescribed under section 32502 of this title if the State bumper standard—
(1) does not conflict with a standard prescribed under chapter 301 of this title; and
(2) was in effect or prescribed by the State on October 20, 1972.
(c)Additional and Higher Standards of Performance.—The United States Government, a State, or a political subdivision of a State may prescribe a bumper standard for a passenger motor vehicle or passenger motor vehicle equipment obtained for its own use that imposes additional or higher standards of performance than a standard prescribed under section 32502 of this title.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1047.)