- 49 U.S. Code § 32701 - Findings and purposes
- 49 U.S. Code § 32702.Definitions
- U.S. Code § 32703.Preventing tampering
- 49 U.S. Code § 32704.Service, repair, and replacement
- 49 U.S. Code § 32705.Disclosure requirements on transfer of motor vehicles
- 49 U.S. Code § 32706.Inspections, investigations, and records
- 49 U.S. Code § 32707.Administrative warrants
- 49 U.S. Code § 32708.Confidentiality of information
- 49 U.S. Code § 32709.Penalties and enforcement
- 49 U.S. Code § 32710.Civil actions by private persons
This page provides the language of the Motor Vehicle Information And Cost Savings Act, also known as the Federal Odometer Law, is a law passed by the Federal Government that protects New Jersey residents from odometer fraud.
49 U.S. Code § 32701 - Findings and purposes
(a) Findings.—Congress finds that—
(1) buyers of motor vehicles rely heavily on the odometer reading as an index of the condition and value of a vehicle;
(2) buyers are entitled to rely on the odometer reading as an accurate indication of the mileage of the vehicle;
(3) an accurate indication of the mileage assists a buyer in deciding on the safety and reliability of the vehicle; and
(4) motor vehicles move in, or affect, interstate and foreign commerce.
(b) Purposes.—The purposes of this chapter are—
(1) to prohibit tampering with motor vehicle odometers; and
(2) to provide safeguards to protect purchasers in the sale of motor vehicles with altered or reset odometers.
49 U.S. Code § 32702.Definitions
In this chapter—
(1) “auction company” means a person taking possession of a motor vehicle owned by another to sell at an auction.
(2) “dealer” means a person that sold at least 5 motor vehicles during the prior 12 months to buyers that in good faith bought the vehicles other than for resale.
(3) “distributor” means a person that sold at least 5 motor vehicles during the prior 12 months for resale.
(4) “leased motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle leased to a person for at least 4 months by a lessor that leased at least 5 vehicles during the prior 12 months.
(5) “odometer” means an instrument or system of components for measuring and recording the distance a motor vehicle is driven, but does not include an auxiliary instrument or system of components designed to be reset by the operator of the vehicle to record mileage of a trip.
(6) “repair” and “replace” mean to restore to a sound working condition by replacing any part of an odometer or by correcting any inoperative part of an odometer.
(7) “title” means the certificate of title or other document issued by the State indicating ownership.
(8) “transfer” means to change ownership by sale, gift, or any other means.
49 U.S. Code § 32703.Preventing tampering
(1) advertise for sale, sell, use, install, or have installed, a device that makes an odometer of a motor vehicle register a mileage different from the mileage the vehicle was driven, as registered by the odometer within the designed tolerance of the manufacturer of the odometer;
(2) disconnect, reset, alter, or have disconnected, reset, or altered, an odometer of a motor vehicle intending to change the mileage registered by the odometer;
(3) with intent to defraud, operate a motor vehicle on a street, road, or highway if the person knows that the odometer of the vehicle is disconnected or not operating; or
(4) conspire to violate this section or section 32704 or 32705 of this title.
49 U.S. Code § 32704.Service, repair, and replacement
(a) Adjusting Mileage.—A person may service, repair, or replace an odometer of a motor vehicle if the mileage registered by the odometer remains the same as before the service, repair or replacement. If the mileage cannot remain the same—
(1) the person shall adjust the odometer to read zero; and
(2) the owner of the vehicle or agent of the owner shall attach a written notice to the left door frame of the vehicle specifying the mileage before the service, repair, or replacement and the date of the service, repair, or replacement.
(b) Removing or Altering Notice.— A person may not, with intent to defraud, remove or alter a notice attached to a motor vehicle as required by this section.
49 U.S. Code § 32705.Disclosure requirements on transfer of motor vehicles
(1) Disclosure Requirements.—Under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Transportation that include the way in which information is disclosed and retained under this section, a person transferring ownership of a motor vehicle shall give the transferee the following written disclosure:
(A) Disclosure of the cumulative mileage registered on the odometer.
(B) Disclosure that the actual mileage is unknown, if the transferor knows that the odometer reading is different from the number of miles the vehicle has actually traveled.
(2) A person transferring ownership of a motor vehicle may not violate a regulation prescribed under this section or give a false statement to the transferee in making the disclosure required by such a regulation.
(3) A person acquiring a motor vehicle for resale may not accept a written disclosure under this section unless it is complete.
(4) (A) This subsection shall apply to all transfers of motor vehicles (unless otherwise exempted by the Secretary by regulation), except in the case of transfers of new motor vehicles from a vehicle manufacturer jointly to a dealer and a person engaged in the business of renting or leasing vehicles for a period of 30 days or less.
(B) For purposes of subparagraph (A), the term “new motor vehicle” means any motor vehicle driven with no more than the limited use necessary in moving, transporting, or road testing such vehicle prior to delivery from the vehicle manufacturer to a dealer, but in no event shall the odometer reading of such vehicle exceed 300 miles.
(5) The Secretary may exempt such classes or categories of vehicles as the Secretary deems appropriate from these requirements. Until such time as the Secretary amends or modifies the regulations set forth in 49 CFR 580.6, such regulations shall have full force and effect.
(b) Mileage Statement Requirement for Licensing.—
(1) A motor vehicle the ownership of which is transferred may not be licensed for use in a State unless the transferee, in submitting an application to a State for the title on which the license will be issued, includes with the application the transferor’s title and, if that title contains the space referred to in paragraph (3)(A)(iii) of this subsection, a statement, signed and dated by the transferor, of the mileage disclosure required under subsection (a) of this section. This paragraph does not apply to a transfer of ownership of a motor vehicle that has not been licensed before the transfer.
(2) (A) Under regulations prescribed by the Secretary, if the title to a motor vehicle issued to a transferor by a State is in the possession of a lienholder when the transferor transfers ownership of the vehicle, the transferor may use a written power of attorney (if allowed by State law) in making the mileage disclosure required under subsection (a) of this section. Regulations prescribed under this paragraph—
(i) shall prescribe the form of the power of attorney;
(ii) shall provide that the form be printed by means of a secure printing process (or other secure process);
(iii) shall provide that the State issue the form to the transferee;
(iv) shall provide that the person exercising the power of attorney retain a copy and submit the original to the State with a copy of the title showing the restatement of the mileage;
(v) may require that the State retain the power of attorney and the copy of the title for an appropriate period or that the State adopt alternative measures consistent with section 32701(b) of this title, after considering the costs to the State;
(vi) shall ensure that the mileage at the time of transfer be disclosed on the power of attorney document;
(vii) shall ensure that the mileage be restated exactly by the person exercising the power of attorney in the space referred to in paragraph (3)(A)(iii) of this subsection;
(viii) may not require that a motor vehicle be titled in the State in which the power of attorney was issued;
(ix) shall consider the need to facilitate normal commercial transactions in the sale or exchange of motor vehicles; and
(x) shall provide other conditions the Secretary considers appropriate.
(B) Section 32709(a) and (b) applies to a person granting or granted a power of attorney under this paragraph.
(3) (A) A motor vehicle the ownership of which is transferred may not be licensed for use in a State unless the title issued by the State to the transferee—
(i) is produced by means of a secure printing process (or other secure process);
(ii) indicates the mileage disclosure required to be made under subsection (a) of this section; and
(iii) contains a space for the transferee to disclose the mileage at the time of a future transfer and to sign and date the disclosure.
(B) Subparagraph (A) of this paragraph does not require a State to verify, or preclude a State from verifying, the mileage information contained in the title.
(c) Leased Motor Vehicles.—
(1) For a leased motor vehicle, the regulations prescribed under subsection (a) of this section shall require written disclosure about mileage to be made by the lessee to the lessor when the lessor transfers ownership of that vehicle.
(2) Under those regulations, the lessor shall provide written notice to the lessee of—
(A) the lessee’s mileage disclosure requirements under paragraph (1) of this subsection; and
(B) the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.
(3) The lessor shall retain the disclosures made by a lessee under paragraph (1) of this subsection for at least 4 years following the date the lessor transfers the leased motor vehicle.
(4) If the lessor transfers ownership of a leased motor vehicle without obtaining possession of the vehicle, the lessor, in making the disclosure required by subsection (a) of this section, may indicate on the title the mileage disclosed by the lessee under paragraph (1) of this subsection unless the lessor has reason to believe that the disclosure by the lessee does not reflect the actual mileage of the vehicle.
(d) State Alternate Vehicle Mileage Disclosure Requirements.—
The requirements of subsections (b) and (c)(1) of this section on the disclosure of motor vehicle mileage when motor vehicles are transferred or leased apply in a State unless the State has in effect alternate motor vehicle mileage disclosure requirements approved by the Secretary. The Secretary shall approve alternate motor vehicle mileage disclosure requirements submitted by a State unless the Secretary decides that the requirements are not consistent with the purpose of the disclosure required by subsection (b) or (c), as the case may be.
(e) Auction Sales.—If a motor vehicle is sold at an auction, the auction company conducting the auction shall maintain the following records for at least 4 years after the date of the sale:
(1) the name of the most recent owner of the motor vehicle (except the auction company) and the name of the buyer of the motor vehicle.
(2) the vehicle identification number required under chapter 301 or 331 of this title.
(3) the odometer reading on the date the auction company took possession of the motor vehicle.
(f) Application and Revision of Law.—
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, subsections (b)–(e) of this section apply to the transfer of a motor vehicle after April 28, 1989.
(2) If a State requests, the Secretary shall assist the State in revising its laws to comply with subsection (b) of this section. If a State requires time beyond April 28, 1989, to revise its laws to achieve compliance, the Secretary, on request of the State, may grant additional time that the Secretary considers reasonable by publishing a notice in the Federal Register. The notice shall include the reasons for granting the additional time. In granting additional time, the Secretary shall ensure that the State is making reasonable efforts to achieve compliance.
(g) Electronic Disclosures.—
(1) Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act of 2012, in carrying out this section, the Secretary shall prescribe regulations permitting any written disclosures or notices and related matters to be provided electronically.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) and subject to paragraph (3), a State, without approval from the Secretary under subsection (d), may allow for written disclosures or notices and related matters to be provided electronically if—
(A) in compliance with—
(i) the requirements of subchapter 1 of chapter 96 of title 15;  or
(ii) the requirements of a State law under section 7002(a) of title 15; 1 and
(B) the disclosures or notices otherwise meet the requirements under this section, including appropriate authentication and security measures.
(3) Paragraph (2) ceases to be effective on the date the regulations under paragraph (1) become effective.
49 U.S. Code § 32706.Inspections, investigations, and records
(a)Authority To Inspect and Investigate.—
Subject to section 32707 of this title, the Secretary of Transportation may conduct an inspection or investigation necessary to carry out this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter. The Secretary shall cooperate with State and local officials to the greatest extent possible in conducting an inspection or investigation. The Secretary may give the Attorney General information about a violation of this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter.
(b) Entry, Inspection, and Impoundment.—
(1) In carrying out subsection (a) of this section, an officer or employee designated by the Secretary, on display of proper credentials and written notice to the owner, operator, or agent in charge, may—
(A) enter and inspect commercial premises in which a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment is manufactured, held for shipment or sale, maintained, or repaired;
(B) enter and inspect noncommercial premises in which the Secretary reasonably believes there is a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment that is an object of a violation of this chapter;
(C) inspect that motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment; and
(D) impound for not more than 72 hours for inspection a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment that the Secretary reasonably believes is an object of a violation of this chapter.
(2) An inspection or impoundment under this subsection shall be conducted at a reasonable time, in a reasonable way, and with reasonable promptness. The written notice may consist of a warrant issued under section 32707 of this title.
(c) Reasonable Compensation.— When the Secretary impounds for inspection a motor vehicle (except a vehicle subject to subchapter I of chapter 135 of this title) or motor vehicle equipment under subsection (b)(1)(D) of this section, the Secretary shall pay reasonable compensation to the owner of the vehicle or equipment if the inspection or impoundment results in denial of use, or reduction in value, of the vehicle or equipment.
(d) Records and Information Requirements.—
(1) To enable the Secretary to decide whether a dealer or distributor is complying with this chapter and regulations prescribed and orders issued under this chapter, the Secretary may require the dealer or distributor—
(A) to keep records;
(B) to provide information from those records if the Secretary states the purpose for requiring the information and identifies the information to the fullest extent practicable; and
(C) to allow an officer or employee designated by the Secretary to inspect relevant records of the dealer or distributor.
(2) This subsection and subsection (e)(1)(B) of this section do not authorize the Secretary to require a dealer or distributor to provide information on a regular periodic basis.
(e) Administrative Authority 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.
(f) Prohibitions.— A person may not fail to keep records, refuse access to or copying of records, fail to make reports or provide information, fail to allow entry or inspection, or fail to permit impoundment, as required under this section.
49 U.S. Code § 32707.Administrative warrants
(a) Definition.— In this section, “probable cause” means a valid public interest in the effective enforcement of this chapter or a regulation prescribed under this chapter sufficient to justify the inspection or impoundment in the circumstances stated in an application for a warrant under this section.
(b)Warrant Requirement and Issuance.—
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection, an inspection or impoundment under section 32706 of this title may be carried out only after a warrant is obtained.
(2) A judge of a court of the United States or a State court of record or a United States magistrate may issue a warrant for an inspection or impoundment under section 32706 of this title within the territorial jurisdiction of the court or magistrate. The warrant must be based on an affidavit that—
(A) establishes probable cause to issue the warrant; and
(B) is sworn to before the judge or magistrate by an officer or employee who knows the facts alleged in the affidavit.
(3)The judge or magistrate shall issue the warrant when the judge or magistrate decides there is a reasonable basis for believing that probable cause exists to issue the warrant. The warrant must—
(A) identify the premises, property, or motor vehicle to be inspected and the items or type of property to be impounded;
(B) state the purpose of the inspection, the basis for issuing the warrant, and the name of the affiant;
(C) direct an individual authorized under section 32706 of this title to inspect the premises, property, or vehicle for the purpose stated in the warrant and, when appropriate, to impound the property specified in the warrant;
(D) direct that the warrant be served during the hours specified in the warrant; and
(E) name the judge or magistrate with whom proof of service is to be filed.
(4) A warrant under this section is not required when—
(A) the owner, operator, or agent in charge of the premises consents;
(B) it is reasonable to believe that the mobility of the motor vehicle to be inspected makes it impractical to obtain a warrant;
(C) an application for a warrant cannot be made because of an emergency;
(D) records are to be inspected and copied under section 32706(e)(1)(A) of this title; or
(E) a warrant is not constitutionally required.
(c) Service and Impoundment of Property.—
(1) A warrant issued under this section must be served and proof of service filed not later than 10 days after its issuance date. The judge or magistrate may allow additional time in the warrant if the Secretary of Transportation demonstrates a need for additional time. Proof of service must be filed promptly with a written inventory of the property impounded under the warrant. The inventory shall be made in the presence of the individual serving the warrant and the individual from whose possession or premises the property was impounded, or if that individual is not present, a credible individual except the individual making the inventory. The individual serving the warrant shall verify the inventory. On request, the judge or magistrate shall send a copy of the inventory to the individual from whose possession or premises the property was impounded and to the applicant for the warrant.
(2) When property is impounded under a warrant, the individual serving the warrant shall—
(A) give the person from whose possession or premises the property was impounded a copy of the warrant and a receipt for the property; or
(B) leave the copy and receipt at the place from which the property was impounded.
(3) The judge or magistrate shall file the warrant, proof of service, and all documents filed about the warrant with the clerk of the United States district court for the judicial district in which the inspection is made.
49 U.S. Code § 32708.Confidentiality of information
(a) General.—Information obtained by the Secretary of Transportation under this chapter related to a confidential matter referred to in section 1905 of title 18 may be disclosed only—
(1) to another officer or employee of the United States Government for use in carrying out this chapter; or
(2) in a proceeding under this chapter.
(b) Withholding Information From Congress.— This section does not authorize information to be withheld from a committee of Congress authorized to have the information.
49 U.S. Code § 32709.Penalties and enforcement
(a) Civil Penalty.—
(1) A person that violates this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation. A separate violation occurs for each motor vehicle or device involved in the violation. The maximum penalty under this subsection for a related series of violations is $1,000,000.
(2) The Secretary of Transportation shall impose a civil penalty under this subsection. The Attorney General shall bring a civil action to collect the penalty. Before referring a penalty claim to the Attorney General, the Secretary may compromise the amount of the penalty. Before compromising the amount of the penalty, the Secretary shall give the person charged with a violation an opportunity to establish that the violation did not occur.
(3) In determining the amount of a civil penalty under this subsection, the Secretary shall consider—
(A) the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the violation;
(B) with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, any history of prior violations, the ability to pay, and any effect on the ability to continue doing business; and
(C) other matters that justice requires.
(b) Criminal Penalty.— A person that knowingly and willfully violates this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 3 years, or both. If the person is a corporation, the penalties of this subsection also apply to a director, officer, or individual agent of a corporation who knowingly and willfully authorizes, orders, or performs an act in violation of this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter without regard to penalties imposed on the corporation.
(c) Civil Actions by Attorney General.— The Attorney General may bring a civil action to enjoin a violation of this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter. The action may be brought in the United States district court for 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.
(d) Civil Actions by States.—
(1) When a person violates this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter, the chief law enforcement officer of the State in which the violation occurs may bring a civil action—
(A) to enjoin the violation; or
(B) to recover amounts for which the person is liable under section 32710 of this title for each person on whose behalf the action is brought.
(2) An action under this subsection may be brought in an appropriate United States district court or in a State court of competent jurisdiction. The action must be brought not later than 2 years after the claim accrues.
49 U.S. Code § 32710.Civil actions by private persons
(a) Violation and Amount of Damages.— A person that violates this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter, with intent to defraud, is liable for 3 times the actual damages or $10,000, whichever is greater.
(b) Civil Actions.— A person may bring a civil action to enforce a claim under this section in an appropriate United States district court or in another court of competent jurisdiction. The action must be brought not later than 2 years after the claim accrues. The court shall award costs and a reasonable attorney’s fee to the person when a judgment is entered for that person.
49 U.S. Code § 32711.Relationship to State law Except to the extent that State law is inconsistent with this chapter, this chapter does not—
(1) affect a State law on disconnecting, altering, or tampering with an odometer with intent to defraud; or
(2) exempt a person from complying with that law.
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