NEW 2006 NORTH CAROLINA LAWS THAT IMPACT YOU

NEW 2006 NORTH CAROLINA LAWS THAT IMPACT YOU

Our North Carolina Legislature has been busy this year. The following is an overview of new laws you and your family should be aware of regarding operation of your automobile, renewal of your driver's license, passing a stopped school bus, your service as a jury member, and use of a cell phone while driving.

Renewal of Driver's License: House Bill 267 becomes effective January 1, 2007, and provides that anyone over the age of eighteen will now receive a renewal lasting eight years. If you are age fifty-four or over, your renewal will now expire after five years.

Passing a Stopped School Bus: Effective September 1, 2006, if you are found guilty of passing a stopped school bus, you can no longer receive a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) as per House Bill 2880.

Jury Duty: If you are called for jury duty and are age seventy-two or older, you may now apply in writing for an exemption. This law became effective August 27, 2006, under Senate Bill 602.

Seat Belt Use: Senate Bill 774 states that seat belts must now be worn by all passengers in any vehicle, including all rear seat passengers. Warnings will be written beginning December 1, 2006. On June 30, 2007, you will be given a $10.00 penalty.

Cell Phones: Beginning December 1, 2006, Senate Bill 1289 provides that any provisional driver under the age of eighteen will be prohibited from using a cell phone, with the exception of calls made to 911, fire/police, hospital/doctor, and parent/spouse. If you violate this new law, you will receive a $25.00 fine, but no insurance points or court costs.

"Move Over": In July, the legislature strengthened Senate Bill 1142. The "Move Over" law mandates that a motorist must move into a lane not nearest to a parked or standing emergency vehicle. If you are traveling on a road with at least two lanes in your direction of travel, you must change lanes in safety. If there is only one lane for your direction of travel, you must slow down to pass the emergency vehicle. If violated, you may now be charged with a Class I felony, $500.00 in fines, and a suspension of your driver's license up to 180 days. If an accident occurs because you do not move over and someone is seriously injured, you could receive a Class H felony charge including up to $5,000.00 in fines and a two-year revocation of your driver's license. Just this week, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer was struck while helping a stranded motorist due a vehicle that did not move over on Interstate 77.

The journey of each of these bills into laws is a long one. A law begins as a drafted bill presented by a General Assembly member during session. The bill is then assigned to a committee under Senate or House supervision. If the bill is approved, it leaves the committee and is placed on a calendar where it is considered by the full House or Senate. The bill may be amended and debated. If the bill passes through the house in which it was introduced, it must then go to the other house where it follows the same process --- assignment to a committee, the debate process, and the vote process.

If the second house requests changes, the bill must go back to the original house for approval. If the two houses cannot agree to the changes, the bill goes into a conference committee where each house can debate the proposed changes and vote upon them. At times, the houses cannot agree and a bill is defeated. Only after passing both houses can a bill become a law.

For these and other bills passed this year, go to http://www.ncleg.net for more information. At the Knox Law Center, we are committed to providing outstanding legal services by educating and assisting you to a successful conclusion of your legal issues.

For more information about the Knox Law Center visit the firm's website at www.knoxlawcenter.com or call 704-315-2363 or 866-704-9059 (Toll free).