The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on June 17, 2005, representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.
Re: Applicability of New York State Insurance Law § 9110 Motor Vehicle Law Enforcement
Fee to a Trailer
Is the motor vehicle law enforcement fee (hereinafter "the fee") paid to New York State (hereinafter "N.Y.") pursuant to N.Y. Insurance Law (hereinafter "N.Y. Ins. Law") § 9110(b)1 (McKinney Supp. 2005) (hereinafter "Section 9110(b) ") applicable to a trailer?
No. The fee paid to N.Y. pursuant to Section 9110(b) is not applicable to a trailer.
No facts were provided.
Section 9110(b) states:
The annual fee is hereby imposed at the rate of five dollars per insured motor vehicle registered pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (b) of subdivision one of section four hundred one of the vehicle and traffic law. Such fee will be paid monthly by insurance companies to the superintendent on or before the fifteenth of the month next succeeding the month in which such collections are received. (Emphasis added)
Note that effective July 1, 2005, unless the 2003 legislation is extended, the fee will revert to $1.
N.Y. Vehicle and Traffic Law (hereinafter "N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law") § 401(1)(b) (McKinney Supp. 2005) states in relevant part:
Every owner of a trailer shall also make application for the registration thereof in the manner herein provided for an application to register a motor vehicle, but shall contain a statement showing the manufacturer's number or other identification satisfactory to the commissioner and no number plate for a trailer issued under the provisions of subdivision three of section four hundred two of this chapter shall be transferred to or used upon any other trailer than the one for which number plate is issued. (Emphasis added)
Accordingly, a trailer is subject to the fee only if it is defined as a motor vehicle.
N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 401(1)(b) (McKinney Supp. 2005) is contained in N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law Article 14 (McKinney 1996 & Supp. 2005) which is entitled "Registration of Motor Vehicles". The term "trailer" is not specifically defined in Article 14 of the N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law. However, N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 100 (McKinney 1996) provides:
The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall, for the purpose of this chapter, have the meanings respectively ascribed to them in this article except where another definition is specifically provided in any title, article or section for application in such title, article or section:
The term "trailer" is defined by N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 156 (McKinney 1996):
Any vehicle not propelled by its own power drawn on the public highways by a motor vehicle as defined in section one hundred twenty-five operated thereon, except motorcycle side cars, vehicles being towed by a non-rigid support and vehicles designed and primarily used for other purposes and only occasionally drawn by such a motor vehicle.
The term "motor vehicle" is defined in relevant part by N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 125 (McKinney 1996):
Every vehicle operated or driven on a public highway which is propelled by any power other than muscular power . . . .
A trailer is not a propelled vehicle and it is not a motor vehicle. Therefore, the fee is not applicable to a trailer.
For further information one may contact Senior Attorney Robert Freedman at the New York City Office.
1 There are two Sections 9110 in the N.Y. Ins. Law. This opinion refers to the Section entitled "Motor vehicle law enforcement fee".