GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

1997 SESSION

 

 

S.L. 1997-16

HOUSE BILL 248

 

 

AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT GRADUATED DRIVERS LICENSES AND MOTORCYCLE LEARNERS' PERMITS.

 

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

 

Section 1.  G.S. 20-11 reads as rewritten:

" 20-11.  Application of minors. Issuance of limited learner's permit and provisional drivers license to person who is less than 18 years old.

(a)       The Division shall not grant the application of any minor between the ages of 16 and 18 years for a driver's license or a learner's permit unless such application is signed both by the applicant and by the parent, guardian, husband, wife or employer of the applicant, or, if the applicant has no parent, guardian, husband, wife or employer residing in this State, by some other responsible adult person.  It shall be unlawful for any person to sign the application of a minor under the provisions of this section when such application misstates the age of the minor and any person knowingly violating this provision shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

The Division shall not grant the application of any minor between the ages of 16 and 18 years for a driver's license unless such minor presents evidence of having satisfactorily completed the driver training and safety education courses offered at the public high schools as provided in G.S. 20-88.1 or upon having satisfactorily completed a course of driving instruction offered at a licensed commercial driver training school or an approved nonpublic secondary school, provided instruction offered in such schools shall be approved by the State Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and all expenses for such instruction shall be paid by the persons enrolling in such courses and/or by the schools offering them.

(b)       The Division may issue a limited learner's permit to a minor who is at least 15 years old but is less than 16 years old and who otherwise meets the requirements of this section.  An application for a limited learner's permit must be signed by both the applicant and the applicant's parent or guardian or some other responsible adult with whom the applicant resides and who is approved by the Division.  A limited learner's permit authorizes the permit holder to drive a specified type or class of motor vehicle while in possession of the permit and accompanied by a parent, guardian, or other person approved by the Division who is licensed to operate the motor vehicle being driven and is seated beside the permit holder.  A limited learner's permit is valid for a period of 18 months.  The fee for a limited learner's permit is ten dollars ($10.00).  In the event a minor who holds a limited learner's permit drives a motor vehicle in violation of law, the permit shall be canceled.  A driver who holds a limited learner's permit only shall not be deemed a licensed driver for the purpose of determining the inexperienced operator premium surcharge under automobile insurance policies.

(c)       The Division may, upon satisfactory proof that a minor between the ages of 16 and 18 years has become a resident of North Carolina and holds a valid motor vehicle driver's drivers license from his prior state of residence but has not completed a course in driver education which meets the requirements of this State, grant to such minor a temporary driver's permit under such terms and conditions as shall be deemed necessary by the Division to allow the minor to operate a motor vehicle of a specified type or class in this State in order to obtain the driver education courses necessary for license in North Carolina.  Every application for a temporary driver's permit shall be made upon the approved form furnished by the Division.  A temporary  driver's permit issued pursuant to this section shall be subject to all provisions of law relating to a driver's license.

(a)       Process. - Safe driving requires instruction in driving and experience.  To ensure that a person who is less than 18 years old has both instruction and experience before obtaining a drivers license, driving privileges are granted first on a limited basis and are then expanded in accordance with the following process:

(1)       Level 1. - Driving with a limited learner's permit.

(2)       Level 2. - Driving with a limited provisional license.

(3)       Level 3. - Driving with a full provisional license.

A permit or license issued under this section must have a color background or border that indicates the level of driving privileges granted by the permit or license.

(b)       Level 1. - A person who is at least 15 years old but less than 18 years old may obtain a limited learner's permit if the person meets all of the following requirements:

(1)       Passes a course of driver education prescribed in G.S. 20-88.1 or a course of driver instruction at a licensed commercial driver training school.

(2)       Passes a written test administered by the Division.

(c)       Level 1 Restrictions. - A limited learner's permit authorizes the permit holder to drive a specified type or class of motor vehicle only under the following conditions:

(1)       The permit holder must be in possession of the permit.

(2)       A supervising driver must be seated beside the permit holder in the front seat of the vehicle when it is in motion.  No person other than the supervising driver can be in the front seat.

(3)       For the first six months after issuance, the permit holder may drive only between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

(4)       After the first six months after issuance, the permit holder may drive at any time.

(5)       Every person occupying the vehicle being driven by the permit holder must have a safety belt properly fastened about his or her body, or be restrained by a child passenger restraint system as provided in G.S. 20-137.1(a), when the vehicle is in motion.

(d)       Level 2. - A person who is at least 16 years old but less than 18 years old may obtain a limited provisional license if the person meets all of the following requirements:

(1)       Has held a limited learner's permit issued by the Division for at least 12 months.

(2)       Has not been convicted of a motor vehicle moving violation or seat belt infraction during the preceding six months.

(3)       Passes a road test administered by the Division.

(e)       Level 2 Restrictions. - A limited provisional license authorizes the license holder to drive a specified type or class of motor vehicle only under the following conditions:

(1)       The license holder must be in possession of the license.

(2)       The license holder may drive without supervision in any of the following circumstances:

a.         From 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

b.         When driving to or from work.

c.         When driving to or from an activity of a volunteer fire department, volunteer rescue squad, or volunteer emergency medical service, if the driver is a member of the organization.

(3)       The license holder may drive with supervision at any time.  When the license holder is driving with supervision, the supervising driver must be seated beside the license holder in the front seat of the vehicle when it is in motion.  The supervising driver need not be the only other occupant of the front seat, but must be the person seated next to the license holder.

(4)       Every person occupying the vehicle being driven by the license holder must have a safety belt properly fastened about his or her body, or be restrained by a child passenger restraint system as provided in G.S. 20-137.1(a), when the vehicle is in motion.

(f)        Level 3. - A person who is at least 16 years old but less than 18 years old may obtain a full provisional license if the person meets all of the following requirements:

(1)       Has held a limited provisional license issued by the Division for at least six months.

(2)       Has not been convicted of a motor vehicle moving violation or seat belt infraction during the preceding six months.

A person who meets these requirements may obtain a full provisional license by mail.

(g)       Level 3 Restrictions. - The restrictions on Level 1 and Level 2 drivers concerning time of driving, supervision, and passenger limitations do not apply to a full provisional license.

(h)       Out-of-State Exceptions. - A person who is at least 16 years old but less than 18 years old, who was a resident of another state and has an unrestricted drivers license issued by that state, and who becomes a resident of this State may obtain one of the following:

(1)       A temporary permit, if the person has not completed a drivers education program that meets the requirements of the Superintendent of Public Instruction but is currently enrolled in a drivers education program that meets these requirements.  A temporary permit is valid for the period specified in the permit and authorizes the holder of the permit to drive a specified type or class of motor vehicle when in possession of the permit, subject to any restrictions imposed by the Division concerning time of driving, supervision, and passenger limitations.  The period must end within 10 days after the expected completion date of the drivers education program in which the applicant is enrolled.

(2)       A full provisional license, if the person has completed a drivers education program that meets the requirements of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, has held the license issued by the other state for at least 12 months, and has not been convicted during the preceding six months of a motor vehicle moving violation, a seat belt infraction, or an offense committed in another jurisdiction that would be a motor vehicle moving violation or seat belt infraction if committed in this State.

(3)       A limited provisional license, if the person has completed a drivers education program that meets the requirements of the  Superintendent of Public Instruction but either did not hold the license issued by the other state for at least 12 months or was convicted during the preceding six months of a motor vehicle moving violation, a seat belt infraction, or an offense committed in another jurisdiction that would be a motor vehicle moving violation or seat belt infraction if committed in this State.

(i)        Application. - An application for a permit or license authorized by this section must be signed by both the applicant and another person.  That person must be the applicant's parent or guardian if the parent or guardian resides in this State and is qualified to be a supervising driver.  In all other circumstances, that person must be an adult approved by the Division.

(j)        Duration and Fee. - A limited learner's permit expires on the eighteenth birthday of the permit holder.  A limited provisional license expires on the eighteenth birthday of the license holder.  A full provisional license expires on the date set under G.S. 20-7(f).  The fee for a limited learner's permit or a limited provisional license is ten dollars ($10.00).  The fee for a full provisional license is the amount set under G.S. 20-7(i).

(k)       Supervising Driver. - A supervising driver must be a parent or guardian of the permit holder or license holder if a parent or guardian signed the application for the permit or license.  If a parent or guardian did not sign the application, the supervising driver must be the adult who signed the application.  A supervising driver must be a licensed driver who has been licensed to drive for at least five years.

(l)        Violations. - It is unlawful for the holder of a limited learner's permit, a temporary permit, or a limited provisional license to drive a motor vehicle in violation of the restrictions that apply to the permit or license.  Failure to comply with a restriction concerning the time of driving or the presence of a supervising driver in the vehicle constitutes operating a motor vehicle without a license.  Failure to comply with any other restriction, including seating and passenger limitations, is an infraction punishable by a monetary penalty as provided in G.S. 20-176.

(m)      Insurance Status. - The holder of a limited learner's permit is not considered a licensed driver for the purpose of determining the inexperienced operator premium surcharge under automobile insurance policies."

Section 2.  G.S. 20-135.2A(a) reads as rewritten:

"(a)      Each front seat occupant who is 16 years of age or older and each driver of a passenger motor vehicle manufactured with seat safety belts in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208 shall must have such a safety belt properly fastened about his or her body at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion on a street or highway in this State. Each driver of a passenger motor vehicle manufactured with seat safety belts in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208, who is transporting in the front seat a person who is (1) (i) under 16 years of age and (2) (ii) not required to be restrained in accordance with G.S. 20-137.1, shall must have the person secured by such a safety belt at all times when the vehicle is operated in forward motion on a street or highway in this State. Persons required to be restrained in accordance with G.S. 20-137.1 shall G.S. 20-11 and G.S. 20-137.1 must be secured as required by that section. those sections."

Section 3.  G.S. 20-88.1(a) reads as rewritten:

"(a)      In accordance with criteria and standards approved by the State Board of Education, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction shall organize and administer a program of driver education to be offered at the public high schools of this State for all physically and mentally qualified persons who (i) are older than 14 years and six months, (ii) are approved by the principal of the school, pursuant to rules adopted by the State Board of Education, (iii) are enrolled in a public or private high school within the State, and (iv) have not previously enrolled in the program. The State Board of Education shall use for such purpose all funds appropriated to it for said purpose, and may use all other funds that become available for its use for said purpose. The

The driver education program established pursuant to this section shall must include instructions the following:

(1)       Instruction on the rights and privileges of the handicapped and the signs and symbols used to assist the handicapped relative to motor vehicles, including the 'international symbol of accessibility' and other symbols and devices as provided in Article 2A of this Chapter. In addition, this program shall include at

(2)       At least six hours of instruction on the offense of driving while impaired and related subjects.

(3)       At least six hours of actual driving experience.  To the extent practicable, this experience may include at least one hour of instruction on the techniques of defensive driving."

Section 4.  G.S. 20-322(b) reads as rewritten:

"(b)      Regulations adopted by the Commissioner shall state the requirements for a school license, including requirements concerning location, equipment, courses of instruction, instructors, financial statements, schedule of fees and charges, character and reputation of the operators, insurance, bond or other security in such sum and with such provisions as the Commissioner deems necessary to protect adequately the interests of the public, and such other matters as the Commissioner may prescribe.  A driver education course offered to prepare an individual for a limited learner's permit or another provisional license must meet the requirements set in G.S. 20-88.1 for the program of driver education offered in the public schools."

Section 5.  G.S. 20-7(l) reads as rewritten:

"(l)       Learner's Permit. - Any person who except for lack of instruction in operating a motor vehicle would be qualified to obtain a drivers license under this Article A person who is at least 18 years old may obtain a learner's permit. A learner's permit authorizes the permit holder to drive a specified type or class of motor vehicle while in possession of the permit. A learner's permit is valid for a period of 18 months after it is issued. The fee for a learner's permit is ten dollars ($10.00). A learner's permit may be renewed, or a second learner's permit may be issued, for an additional period of 18 months. The permit holder must, while operating a motor vehicle over the highways, be accompanied by a person who is licensed to operate the motor vehicle being driven and is seated beside the permit holder."

Section 6.  G.S. 20-12 is repealed.

Section 7.  G.S. 20-12.1 reads as rewritten:

" 20-12.1.  Impaired supervision or instruction.

(a)       It is unlawful for any person to accompany another person driving a motor vehicle, in accordance with G.S. 20-11, or instruct another person driving a motor vehicle, in accordance with G.S. 20-7(l-1) and (m) or G.S. 20-12:  a person to serve as a supervising driver under G.S. 20-7(l) or G.S. 20-11 or as an approved instructor under G.S. 20-7(m) in any of the following circumstances:

(1)       While the person accompanying or instructing is  under the influence of an impairing substance; or substance.

(2)       After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has, to have, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

(b)       An offense under this section is an implied-consent offense under G.S. 20-16.2."

Section 8.  G.S. 20-7(a1) reads as rewritten:

"(a1)    Motorcycles and Mopeds. - To drive a motorcycle, a person must have a motorcycle learner's permit, a full provisional license and a motorcycle endorsement, or a regular drivers license and a motorcycle endorsement. Subsection (a2) of this section sets the requirements for a motorcycle learner's permit.  To obtain a motorcycle endorsement, a person must demonstrate competence to drive a motorcycle by passing a road test and a written or oral test concerning a motorcycle and must pay the fee for a motorcycle endorsement. Neither a drivers license nor a motorcycle endorsement is required to drive a moped."

Section 9.  G.S. 20-7 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:

"(a2)    Motorcycle Learner's Permit. - The following persons are eligible for a motorcycle learner's permit:

(1)       A person who is at least 16 years old but less than 18 years old and has a limited provisional license or a full provisional license issued by the Division.

(2)       A person who is at least 18 years old and has a license issued by the Division.

To obtain a motorcycle learner's permit, an applicant must pass a vision test, a road sign test, and a written test specified by the Division.  A motorcycle learner's permit expires 18 months after it is issued.  The holder of a motorcycle learner's permit may not drive a motorcycle with a passenger.  The holder of a motorcycle learner's permit who has a limited provisional license may drive the motorcycle only at a time when the license holder could drive a motor vehicle without supervision under G.S. 20-11.  The fee for a motorcycle learner's permit is the amount set in G.S. 20-7(l)  for a learner's permit."

Section 10.  This act does not appropriate funds to the Division to implement this act nor does it obligate the General Assembly to appropriate funds to implement this act.

Section 11.  This act becomes effective December 1, 1997, if the General Assembly appropriates the necessary funds from the Highway Fund to the Department of Transportation, Division of Motor Vehicles, to administer the provisional license program. Sections 1 through 7 of this act do not apply to any person who holds a valid North Carolina limited learner's permit issued before the effective date of this act, who holds a valid North Carolina learner's permit issued before the effective date of this act, or who is a provisional licensee and holds a valid North Carolina drivers license issued before the effective date of this act.

In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 7th day of April, 1997.

 

s/   Dennis A. Wicker

President of the Senate

 

s/   Harold J. Brubaker

Speaker of the House of Representatives

 

s/   James B. Hunt, Jr.

Governor

 

Approved 12:10 p.m. this 9th day of April, 1997