New Laws in North Carolina – Texting While Driving, etc

Saturday, April 16, 2011
With all the legislation that has been discussed over the past 6 months (including the Ban on Texting While Driving), I thought you could use a summary of a few of the most relevant changes that went into effect on December 1, 2009. Feel free to pass this along to anyone you think may benefit from this…some of these laws affect everyone in NC. For a full list you can visit our website by following this link and then clicking on “New NC Laws – December 1, 2009” http://www.maitlandlaw.com/WebResources.shtml

I have broken them down into several categories to help you learn what you need to know: 1.) Laws That Affect Everyone, 2.) Laws Brought On By Current Events, and 3.) Amusing Laws (there is always one that makes you smile and scratch your head!). In addition to a summary of the law I have included “Maitland Law Notes” where the attorneys of The Maitland Law Firm provide some clarification and insight into the law. I hope you all find this useful!

Laws That Affect Everyone

S.L. 2009-135 (HB 9) NO TEXTING WHILE DRIVING.
An Act To Make It Unlawful To Use A Mobile Telephone For E-Mail Or Text Messaging
While Operating A Vehicle On A Public Street Or Highway Or Public Vehicular Area.
Maitland Law Notes: This is probably the most drastic change that goes into effect on December 1, 2009. This law is a ban on sending or even reading text messages and email messages while you are driving on a public street or highway. The penalty for violation of this law is a $100 fine plus the cost of court (unless you are driving a school bus at the time…then it is a Class 2 Misdemeanor!). There are some exceptions to this law. You are still allowed to talk on your cell phone while driving (unless you are under the age of 18), still allowed to look up numbers or other contact information that is already stored in your phone, and you can still send/read texts and emails while you are “lawfully” parked or stopped. “Lawfully” parked or stopped is likely to include being parked in a parking lot, but not likely to include waiting at a stop light. The law does not specifically speak to surfing the internet on a mobile device so it will be interesting to see how that is applied. Also, note that you are not prohibited from using voice activated texting systems (i.e. talk to text) nor are you prohibited from using your GPS Navigation system even if typing is required.

S.L. 2009-319 (HB 882) MOTOR VEHICLE INSPECTION PROGRAM CHANGES.
An Act To Allow The Division Of Motor Vehicles To Refuse To Register A Vehicle If The
Vehicle Is Not In Compliance With The Inspections Requirements, To Require Proof Of
Financial Responsibility For A Three-Day Trip Permit, And To Make Technical Changes To
The Inspection Program Statutes.
Maitland Law Notes: The most relevant part of this law is that the state can refuse to register your vehicle if you forget to get it inspected. Your inspection is no longer on a sticker on your windshield so you have to make sure you are aware when it is due…the inspection due date is now located on your registration card. Remember, failing to have your vehicle registered is a Misdemeanor charge in North Carolina so don’t let that inspection cause you to end up being charged with a misdemeanor!

S.L. 2009-456 (HB 67) LICENSE PLATE FRAME/STATE NAME VISIBLE/STUDY.
An Act To Prohibit The Covering Of The State Name, Year Sticker, Or Month Sticker On
A State License Plate By A License Plate Frame And To Direct The Joint Legislative
Transportation Oversight Committee And The Revenue Laws Study Committee To Study
The Authorization Of Special Registration Plates.
Maitland Law Notes: This law will prohibit License Plate Frames that cover up the state name or registration stickers on your license plate. It also prohibits products that are popular in Raleigh to defeat those pesky Red Light Cameras! You can no longer spray the reflective surface on your plate or install a clear cover if either have the effect of preventing a camera from taking a clear picture of your license plate. Clear covers are still fine if you can take a picture of the plate (with a flash) and the photo comes out clear.

Laws Brought On By Current Events

S.L. 2009-379 (HB 1256) LARCENY OF A MOTOR VEHICLE PART.
An Act To Create The Criminal Offense Of Larceny Of A Motor Vehicle Part.
Maitland Law Notes: Stealing parts from someone’s vehicle was a crime before December 1, 2009, but now it will be its own specific crime. With the economy taking a down turn and the price of copper and other metals rising at one point, we started hearing in the news that criminals were stealing catalytic converters, exhaust systems, trailer hitches, wheels, and other parts that could be sold for scrap metal. This statute will ensure that those who participate in the theft of vehicle parts will be punished appropriately.

S.L. 2009-372 (SB 920) PROBATION REFORM.

 

An Act To Allow Probation Officers To Access Certain Offenders’ Juvenile Records, To
Make Warrantless Searches And Drug Screening Regular Conditions Of Supervision, To
Add Additional Controlling Measures For Offenders Subject To Intermediate Punishment,
And To Make Clarifying Amendments To Streamline Procedures For Supervision Of
Offenders In The Community.
Maitland Law Notes: Probation in North Carolina has come under fire with the Eve Carson tragedy and other crimes committed by perpetrators currently on probation. This statute is an attempt to fix some of the problems and better monitor those on probation.

S.L. 2009-551 (HB 1261) PROTECT OUR KIDS/CYBER BULLYING.
An Act Protecting Children Of This State By Making Cyber-Bullying A Criminal Offense
Punishable As A Misdemeanor.
Maitland Law Notes: Due to the recent emergence of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, gChat, and other messaging or “networking” systems, new laws must be put into place to keep up with technology. This law will prohibit Cyber-Bullying which has been in the news in the past year or two. NC has been trying to keep up with technology and protecting those most likely to be affected by new technology…children and young adults.

S.L. 2009-498 (HB 209) SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY/LIBERTIES W/STUDENT.
An Act To Add The Offense Of Taking Indecent Liberties With A Student To The List Of
Sex Offenses That Require Registration Under The Sex Offender And Public Protection
Registration Program, As Recommended By The House Select Committee On Sex
Offender Issues.
Maitland Law Notes: This law is recognizing the persuasive effect that a person in a position of authority (i.e. a teacher) can have on a student. There have been numerous student/teacher sex cases in the news in the past several years and they are becoming more frequent. This law requires the offending teacher to become a registered sex offender.

Amusing Law…there is always one!

S.L. 2009-37 (HB 616) OFFENSE FOR PORTABLE TOILETS/PUMPER TRUCKS.
An Act To Create The Offense Of Larceny, Destruction, Defacement, Or Vandalism Of
Portable Toilets Or Pumper Trucks.
Maitland Law Notes: No more stealing or tipping over those Port-O-Potties!