HANDS FREE NC.

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
House Bill 144 (Public) Filed Thursday, February 21, 2019
AN ACT MAKING IT UNLAWFUL TO OPERATE A VEHICLE ON A PUBLIC STREET, HIGHWAY, OR PUBLIC VEHICULAR AREA WHILE ENGAGING IN DISTRACTED BEHAVIOR.
Intro. by Corbin, Torbett, Hardister, Pierce.

Status: Re-ref to Commerce and Insurance. If fav, re-ref to Judiciary. If fav, re-ref to Rules and Operations of the Senate (Senate action) (Jun 20 2019)

SOG comments (1):

Long title change

House committee substitute to the 2nd edition changed the long title. Original long title was AN ACT MAKING IT UNLAWFUL TO USE A WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICE WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE ON A PUBLIC STREET, HIGHWAY, OR PUBLIC VEHICULAR AREA.

Bill History:

H 144

Bill Summaries:

  • Summary date: May 6 2019 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 3rd edition.

    Adds to proposed GS 20-137.3A, which prohibits distracted driving. Now provides that distracted driving includes use of a handheld mobile telephone and use of a handheld electronic device (was, use of an electronic device). Sets out exceptions to the prohibition when (1) the mobile telephone or electronic device is used to communicate an emergency to one of the specified public safety entities, (2) the mobile telephone or electronic device is used in the performance of official duties by one of four specified classes of public safety officers, (3) the device is used by an employee of a public utility or communications provider using the device to carry out official duties in a vehicle registered to the utility or provider, and (4) the device is used by an amateur radio operator to respond to an emergency situation.


  • Summary date: May 3 2019 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 2nd edition.

    Deletes all provisions of the previous edition. Instead, enacts GS 20-137.3A to prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle on a public street, highway, or public vehicular area while using the person's hands to engage in distracted behavior that impairs or otherwise restricts the proper operation of the motor vehicle and results in operation that is careless, reckless, or heedless, under the then existing conditions. Specifies that use of a handheld mobile telephone and use of an electronic device is distracted behavior under the proposed law. Makes any violation of the law an infraction punishable by a $100 fine plus court costs. Prohibits insurance surcharges as a result of a violation. Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2019. Requires law enforcement to issue only warning tickets for offenses committed within the six months immediately after the effective date of the act. Makes conforming changes to the act's long title.


  • Summary date: Mar 12 2019 - More information

    House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition.

    Amends proposed GS 20-137.3A as follows. Deletes the definition of motor vehicle, adds and defines the term school bus, and specifies that the term texting refers to manually entering text into, or reading text from, a wireless communication device. Adds a prohibition on people under age 18 from operating a vehicle while using a wireless communication device except (1) to follow the route recommend by a navigation system, if the address information is entered before operating the vehicle and (2) as provided in (d)(1) of the statute which allows for the use of a wireless communication device to communicate an emergency to the specified entities. Makes conforming changes.

    Extends the exceptions to the prohibited conduct to allow for the use of a wireless communication device by (1) the operator of a vehicle registered to a public utility or communications service provider when the operator is employed by the utility or service provider using the device to carry out official duties or (2) an amateur radio operator responding to an emergency situation. Deletes the exception to the prohibition on operating a motor vehicle while a wireless communication device is in the person's hand or while physically holding or supporting a wireless communication device with the person's body, in instances when the device is affixed, mounted, or installed in the vehicle and used to handle a call by touching a single button if the person is 18 years or older or used to follow an electronic navigation system when the address information is entered before operation of the vehicle.

    Adds that nothing in the statute prohibits the use of equipment installed by the manufacturer and integrated into the vehicle by any person while operating a motor vehicle.

    Adds a new penalty for a person who violates the statute while operating a school bus, making the person subject to the already stated penalties but making the violation a Class 2 misdemeanor instead of an infraction. Makes additional clarifying and conforming changes to the penalties. 

    Makes conforming changes to proposed GS 58-36-75(i).

    Amends GS 20-11 as follows. Prohibits limited learner's permit holders and limited provisional license holders from using a wireless communication devices while operating a motor vehicle (was, prohibits the use of a mobile telephone or other additional technology associated with a mobile telephone). Amends the criteria to be met in order to obtain such permits and licenses to require that the individual have not been convicted of a violation of new GS 20-137.3A (was, a violation of GS 20-137.3, which makes it unlawful for a person under age 18 to use a mobile phone while driving). Makes additional conforming changes. Makes the failure to comply with restrictions regarding the use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle an infraction punishable under GS 20-137.3A (was, failure to comply with the restriction regarding the use of a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle in an infraction punishable by a $25 fine). 


  • Summary date: Feb 21 2019 - More information

    Titles the act "The Hands Free NC Act."

    Repeals GS 20-137.3 (pertaining to unlawful use of a mobile phone while operating a vehicle by persons under 18 years of age), GS 20-137.4 (pertaining to unlawful use of a mobile phone while operating a school bus), and GS 20-137.4A (pertaining to unlawful use of mobile telephone for text messaging or electronic mail while operating a vehicle). 

    Enacts new GS 20-137.3A as follows. Defines motor vehicle as every vehicle which is self-propelled. Prohibits operating a motor vehicle (1) with a wireless communication device in the person's hand, (2) while holding or supporting a wireless communication device with the person's body, (3) while watching a video or movie or communicating by video on a wireless communication device, or (4) while texting on a wireless communication device. Defines wireless communication device as (1) a cell phone, personal digital assistant, electronic device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, smartwatch, broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device, electronic game, and portable computing device or (2) a device through which personal wireless services as defined in 47 32 USC 332(c)(7)(C)(i) are transmitted. Defines operating a motor vehicle as operating a motor vehicle on a public street, highway, or public vehicular area, excluding where vehicle is off, or to the side of, a public street, highway, or public vehicular area in a location where the motor vehicle can safely remain stationary. Sets out exceptions to the prohibition when (1) the device is affixed, mounted, or installed in the vehicle and used to handle a call by touching a single button if the person is 18 years or older or used to follow an electronic navigation system when the address information is entered before operation of the vehicle; (2) the device is used to communicate an emergency to one of the specified public safety entities; or (3) the device is used in the performance of official duties by one of four specified classes of public safety officers. First offenses (for a person with no prior or no offense in the prior 36 months) are an infraction punishable by a $100 fee with no insurance points. Second offenses (where a person is guilty of a first offense within the previous 36 months) are an infraction with a $150 fine and insurance points. Third and subsequent offenses (where a person is guilty of two or more offenses within the previous 36 months) are an infraction with a $200 fine and insurance points. Prohibits local governments from passing ordinances regulating this topic.

    Amends GS 58-36-75 to require the North Carolina Rate Bureau to assign one insurance point under the Safe Drive Incentive plan for a person convicted for a second offense and two insurance points for a person convicted for a third or subsequent offense.

    Applies to offenses committed on or after January 1, 2020. Requires issuing only warning tickets for the first six months. 

     


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