Bill Summary for H 144 (2019-2020)

Summary date: 

Feb 21 2019

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
House Bill 144 (Public) Filed Thursday, February 21, 2019
Intro. by Corbin, Torbett, Hardister, Pierce.

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Bill summary

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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