The North Carolina recently enacted S.L. 2016-94 (H 1030). The specific provisions noted below have varying dates of applicability, and address several topics. I thought it noteworthy to point out a few of these provisions to indicate what our elected representatives are up to. After all, we all too often fail to pay attention to what these elected officials are actually doing. Meanwhile, they pass numerous laws that actually affect our daily lives; many of which make very little practical sense.
The North Carolina Justice Academy will be developing an online social media course for Police officers. This will include training officers how to protect their personal information.(Section 18.1, page 144). So, the General Assembly has decided North Carolina tax money is intended to teach Police officers how to Facebook. Think about that for a minute….
The General Assembly has decided to review, again, the legal representation of indigent criminal defendants. This action should come as a surprise to nobody. The last several years has seen continual attempts by elected officials to repeal the legal rights of those facing criminal charges, particularly those who are indigent. One primary / concentrated effort has been the continual underfunding of the Office of Indigent Defense Services (IDS), who coordinates such defense efforts. The plan is simple: refuse to properly fund the defense, and you will de-facto repeal the right to an appropriate legal defense. North Carolina legislatures have now asked the Administrative Office of the Courts, IDS, chief district court judges, and judicial district bars of selected judicial districts, to establish pilot projects utilizing a uniform fee schedule for payment of attorney fees for the defense of indigent Defendants in District Court. (Section 19A.4, pages 145-46). The presenters of this legislation would argue this bill is designed for fiscal efficiency. To be fair, I frankly see numerous examples of ineffective, bad attorneys doing a inefficient job representing appointed clients. It annoys me greatly. However, the idea of a uniform "fee schedule" for legal representation is an idea that would only be advance by (a) a non-lawyer who doesn't understand the requirements of the work at hand, or (b) a lawyer who has lost all sense of professional ethics / responsibility. Our legislature if full of individuals with no legal training (making laws - this defies common sense and explains much of the stupidity we're seeing), and a few attorneys who have sold their soul to whatever special interest group bought their way to Raleigh. It's a sad, but unfortunate truth, and it's having a great impact upon our citizens.
The North Carolina also recently enacted S.L. 2016-90 (H 959). This bill primarily relates to motor vehicles, etc.
For offenses on / after December 1, 2016, N.C.G.S. 20-129(e) is amended to require cyclists have a rear lamp / reflective clothing visible from 300 feet to the rear. This is an increase of 100 feet. The new law does add the option of the reflective clothing, instead of the lamp.
As of October, 01, 2016, N.C.G.S. 20-66 denotes that your auto registration via a new plate expires on February 15 annually. The DMV appears to be continuing its efforts to consolidate the registration processes and have them make logical sense.
As of October 01, 2016, N.C.G.S. 20-48 allows the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) to give notice by electronic mail / other electronic means, assuming the motorist consented to service via such manner and provided such address. Currently, the NCDMV provides notice to motorists through U.S. mail at the address on your license. On the one hand, I believe this is an efficient step in the right direction that keeps step with our current societal use of electronic means. On the other hand, I foresee likely issues for motorists arising. Many individuals do not keep their contact information updated, whether such involves a change of address, phone, email, etc. Simply put, the majority of people do not take the time to carefully think of all the people / entities using such information, and ensure every party is notified of the new information. For instance, I have represented numerous clients who did not receive NCDMV notices sent to old addresses. I can easily foresee motorists consenting to email notices, and then forgetting to notify the NCDMV of a change in email address, which is even more likely than a change in physical address.
As of December 1, 2016, N.C.G.S 20-57(c) is amended and N.C.G.S. 20-176(a1(2) is repealed. The net effect is that you no longer have to sign your registration card. Practically, this is a stupid law. I see this issue probably once a year when some over-zealous officer is a jerk and gives a client a hard time about it.
N.C.G.S. 20-166.1(e) notes a Police officer may send a copy of an accident report to an insurance agent / adjuster upon request of the motorist involved or insurance company. An uncertified copy will be sent once a certified copy has been requested properly. This should help speed the claims process in some select instances where the accident report is not available online. However, in most cases, there is no need for the certified report, so the State's requirement for the payment on the certified report is typical fundraising.
N.C.G.S. 63-96 has been amended to lower the minimum age required for a permit to operate unmanned aircraft (drones). The minimum age was changed from age 17 to age 16. The prevalences of drones continues to rise. While these devices are quite entertaining, they also present numerous problems. I am the last person to advocate for the State's interference with personal rights. However, there are two sides to every scenario. When the next 16 year old flies a drone into the path of a commercial airliner, that individual should face the appropriate charges for endangering the life of everyone on-board and in the path of the plane.