20-137.4.  Unlawful use of a mobile phone.

(a)        Definitions. - For purposes of this section, the following terms shall mean:

(1)        Additional technology. - As defined in G.S. 20-137.3(a)(1).

(2)        Emergency situation. - Circumstances such as medical concerns, unsafe road conditions, matters of public safety, or mechanical problems that create a risk of harm for the operator or passengers of a school bus.

(3)        Mobile telephone. - As defined in G.S. 20-137.3(a)(2).

(4)        School bus. - As defined in G.S. 20-4.01(27)d4. The term also includes any school activity bus as defined in G.S. 20-4.01(27)d3. and any vehicle transporting public, private, or parochial school students for compensation.

(b)        Offense. - Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person shall operate a school bus on a public street or highway or public vehicular area while using a mobile telephone or any additional technology associated with a mobile telephone while the school bus is in motion. This prohibition shall not apply to the use of a mobile telephone or additional technology associated with a mobile telephone in a stationary school bus.

(c)        Seizure. - The provisions of this section shall not be construed as authorizing the seizure or forfeiture of a mobile telephone or additional technology, unless otherwise provided by law.

(d)       Exceptions. - The provisions of subsection (b) of this section shall not apply to the use of a mobile telephone or additional technology associated with a mobile telephone for the sole purpose of communicating in an emergency situation.

(e)        Local Ordinances. - No local government may pass any ordinance regulating the use of mobile telephones or additional technology associated with a mobile telephone by operators of school buses.

(f)        Penalty. - A violation of this section shall be a Class 2 misdemeanor and shall be punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100.00). No drivers license points or insurance surcharge shall be assessed as a result of a violation of this section. Failure to comply with the provisions of this section shall not constitute negligence per se or contributory negligence by the operator in any action for the recovery of damages arising out of the operation, ownership, or maintenance of a school bus. (2007-261, s. 1.)