Bill Summary for H 959 (2015-2016)

Summary date: 

May 25 2016

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
House Bill 959 (Public) Filed Monday, April 25, 2016
AN ACT TO MAKE VARIOUS CHANGES TO THE TRANSPORTATION LAWS OF THE STATE, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE JOINT LEGISLATIVE TRANSPORTATION OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE.
Intro. by Iler, Torbett.

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Bill summary

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

Further amends GS 136-18(2)c to allow the Department of Transportation (DOT) to also use exiting rights-of-way, in addition to acquiring additional rights-of-way, for specified utilities, including broadband. Also deletes the proposed language that would have allowed DOT to charge a one-time fee to defray administrative costs of reviewing encroachment submittals. Adds the requirement that DOT study the issue of administrative fees for encroachments under GS 136-18(2)c. Requires a report to the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee by December 1, 2016. Effective July 1, 2016.

Adds a new section which does the following. Amends GS 20-118(c) to create an exception to the weight limitations that apply to vehicles operating on the highways of the State for a vehicle that: (1) is transporting metal commodities; (2) does not operate on an interstate highway, a posted light traffic road, or exceed any posted bridge weight limit; and (3) does not exceed a single-axle weight of 22,000 pounds, a tandem-axle weight of 42,000 pounds, or a gross weight of 90,000 pounds. Specifies that any additional weight allowance authorized by 23 USC 127, and applicable to all interstate highways, also applies to all State roads, unless the road is a posted road or posted bridge, or unless specifically prohibited by State law or a Department ordinance applicable to a specific road. Amends GS 20-119 to add that one, two, or three steel coils, transported on the same vehicle, are to be considered a non-divisible load for the purposes of issuing a special permit that allows the applicant to operate or move a vehicle, on a highway, of a size or weight exceeding the allowed maximum. Effective October 1, 2016.

Adds a new section amending GS 20-129(e) to require that every bicycle be equipped with the specified front and rear lights when the bicycle is being operated at night on any public street, public vehicular area, or public greenway. Removes the requirement that the bicycle have a reflex mirror. Amends the requirements for the rear light to now require that it be visible from 300 (was, 200) feet; in lieu of the rear light, allows the operator to wear clothing or a vest that is bright and visible from at least 300 feet to the rear of the bicycle. Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2016.

Adds a section amending GS 20-150(e) to add that the prohibition on a driver overtaking and passing another vehicle on a portion of the highway marked as no passing does not apply when: (1) the slower moving vehicle is a bicycle or moped; (2) the slower moving vehicle is moving in the same direction as the faster moving vehicle; (3) the driver of the faster moving vehicle either provides a minimum of four feet between the faster moving vehicle and the slower one, or completely enters the left lane; (4) the operator of the slower moving vehicle is not making a left turn or signaling that he or she intends to make a left turn; and (5) the driver of the faster moving vehicle complies with all other applicable requirements of this statute. Makes conforming changes to GS 20-149, concerning overtaking a vehicle. Amends GS 20-154 to make a violation that causes a bicycle operator to change travel lanes or leave the travel lane punishable by a fine of no less than $200; when the result is a crash causing property damage or personal injury to the bicycle operator or passenger, the person is responsible for an infraction and will be assessed a fine of no less than $500. Also makes clarifying changes to how a driver is to make hand signals for right turns and stop. When the unsafe movement results in a crash causing property damage in excess of $5,000 or a serious bodily injury to a bicycle operator or passenger, the violation is an infraction with a fine of no less than $750 and the violation is to be treated as a failure to yield right-of-way to a bicycle for the purpose of assessing points. Adds that a bicycle operator may signal a right turn by extending his or her hand and arm horizontally with the forefinger pointing, from beyond the right side of the bicycle, instead of following the requirements for drivers. Applies to offenses committed on or after October 1, 2016.

Adds the requirement that, by October 1, 2016, DOT develop and implement a program to educate bicyclists, motorists, and other highway users on: (1) best practices by bicyclists for safe riding; (2) best practices for motorists that encounter bicyclists on the road; and (3) the dangers of riding a bicycle while distracted. Requires a report on the program to the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee by December 1, 2016.

Amends proposed language in GS 20-7(c) to require that the Division of Motor Vehicles require vision testing as a part of required in-person, in-office driver's license renewals.  

Adds a section that amends GS 20-52 to require that an application for a certificate of title, registration plate, and a registration card include a preprinted option that co-owners may use to title the vehicle as a joint tenancy with right of survivorship, which would be valid notwithstanding whether this designation appears on the assignment of title. Effective January 1, 2017.

Amends the definition for autocycle found in GS 20-4.01(27), deleting language that required air bag protection for the vehicle to be considered an autocycle. Also provides that the three-wheeled motorcycle can have complete or partially enclosed seating and be considered an autocycle (previously, seating had to be completely enclosed). Also amends GS 20-140.4(a)(2) concerning helmet requirements, providing that the helmet provisions do not apply to operators or passengers in an autocycle that has completely enclosed seating.

Amends GS 20-135.3(c) concerning seat belt anchorages, making a technical correction.

Amends GS 20-4.01, the definitions section for the Article on Motor Vehicles, adding and defining the term electric assisted bicycle as a bicycle with two or three wheels, equipped with a seat or saddle for use by the rider, fully operable pedals, an electric motor of no more than 750 watts whose maximum speed is no greater than 20 miles per hour. Also exempts an electric assisted bicycle from being considered a motor vehicle. Moves the definition of moped as defined in GS 105-164.3 to GS 20-4.01(27)d1, and clarifies that the definition includes mopeds powered by electricity, alternative fuel, or motor fuel but does not include electric assisted bicycles. Also provides that the definition for a motor-driven bicycle excludes electric assisted bicycles. Adds clarifying language that electric assisted bicycles are considered vehicles for the purpose of this chapter but excludes personal assistive mobility devices as defined in GS 20-4.01(7b). Makes conforming changes to several statutes due to the relocation of the definition for moped and the addition of new terms, including 20-10.1 (mopeds), GS 20-175.6 (electric personal assistive mobility devices), GS 58-36-3 (concerning motorcycle and moped endorsements), GS 58-37-1 (concerning the definition for motor vehicle), and GS 58-40-10 (concerning certain insurance statutes). Makes additional conforming changes. Effective December 1, 2016, applying to offenses committed on or after that date. 

Amends GS 20-4.01(2), the definition for canceled as that term applies to driver's licenses and permits, providing that it now also includes cancellation because (1) the licensee was not entitled to the issuance of the license under this Chapter and (2) the licensee failed to give the required or correct information on the license application (previously, only referred to cancellation only because the licensee is no longer authorized under federal law to be legally present in the United States). Also amends GS 20-7(e) concerning the DMV's medical evaluation program, providing that applicants that suffer from a mental disability that affects motor vehicle operation can be required to file a certificate of the condition signed by a medical authority designated by the DMV. Provides that such a certificate, whether filed because of a physical or mental disability, can be requested even after a license or renewal has been issued based on an applicant's road test. Provides for a review of licensing decisions for physical or mental disabilities or diseases as provided in GS 20-9(g)(4), which allows a review upon written request within 10 days after receipt of such a notice. Also sets out the make-up of the reviewing board, including two medical professionals as specified. Further amends GS 20-9 to make various changes and updates to the DMV's medical evaluation program for determining who should be licensed. Provides that while the DMV cannot issue any license to a person that is unable to exercise reasonable and ordinary control over a motor vehicle, a restricted license can be issued under certain conditions for individuals otherwise eligible, but who suffer from a physical or mental disability or disease (previously, provisions did not provide for the issuing of a restricted license in these cases). For those applicants or licensees suffering from such physical or mental disability or disease, the DMV can request a medical certificate to be submitted, this request can come at the initial application, any time following the issuance of a license, or both. Makes various clarifying and conforming changes to the requirements of the certificate, providing that the DMV now requires the submitted certificate to be signed by a health care provider duly licensed to practice medicine in the United States, after the applicant or licensee has submitted to a physical examination. The certificate must also contain a recommendation as to whether the applicant or licensee can safely operate a motor vehicle. Makes various conforming changes and technical updates to language, making language gender neutral. Further amends the statute, making various changes to the review process for applicants or licensees whose license has been restricted, cancelled, or denied, providing that the required notice of denial of such a decision must be given in accordance with the provisions of GS 20-48, Giving of notice, which sets out required steps for any notice given by the DMV. Further amends the provisions concerning the member make-up of the reviewing board, now requiring at a minimum that the Commissioner or representative and at least two medical professionals licensed to practice be appointed to the reviewing board and provides that the Commissioner or representative plus any two medical professionals selected by the Commissioner make a quorum of the board (previously, in addition to the Commissioner, board was constituted of four persons designated by the chairman of the Commission for Public Health). Amends review process further by providing that for reviews contesting a restriction on a license, the restriction  will be stayed, unless the DMV determines there is an imminent threat to public safety if unrestricted driving is permitted. Provides that stays are not granted for contested reviews of denials or cancellations of licenses. Also includes open records provisions, allowing an applicant or licensee to obtain, without a court order, a copy of the records and evidence collected and compiled pursuant to this review process upon the submittal of a written request to the DMV, signing of any release forms, and payment of any required fee. Makes various other conforming and clarifying changes to the section. Amends the catchline of GS 20-9.1, now titled Physicians, psychologists, and other medical providers providing medical information on drivers with physical or mental disabilities or diseases. (was, Physicians and psychologists providing medical information on drivers with physical and mental disabilities). Also specifies a new immunity from liability for physicians, psychologists, and other medical providers making recommendations concerning abilities to operate a motor vehicle. Further amends the section to update and provide that other medical providers licensed to practice can issue opinions about a patient's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Makes additional conforming changes to include physical and mental diseases and disabilities in regards to the applicability of these sections (previously, these sections comprising the DMV medical review program included references to physical disabilities only, or only physical and mental disabilities and not diseases; these conforming changes bring these specified sections into compliance with each other now being applicable to physical and mental disabilities or diseases). Amends GS 20-15(a) concerning the DMV's authority to cancel any driver's license, enacting two new subdivisions for when the DMV is authorized to cancel a driver's license: (1) when the licensee suffers from a physical or mental disability or disease that affects ability to safely operate a motor vehicle and (2) when the licensee fails to submit the certificate required pursuant to GS 20-7(a) and GS 20-9(g) (concerning medical certificates requested to certify ability to safely drive a car due to current physical or mental disability or disease).  Effective July 1, 2016, applying to driver licenses issued or renewed on or after that date, and hearings requested on or after that date. 

Amends GS 20-79(d)(5) concerning the use of dealer license plates, adding language that allows employees and the immediate family members of employees of an independent motor vehicle dealer to use the dealer plates for the operation of motor vehicles as specified.

Amends GS 20-58.4A concerning the electronic lien system, delaying the mandatory participation date for one year from July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017.

Amends GS 20-166.1(e), concerning the officer investigation in the event of an accident, providing that at the request of the driver in the accident or insurance agent, law enforcement can provide uncertified accident reports to an insurance agent or company identified by the driver, if a certified copy has been requested and specified fees have been paid. 

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