The North Carolina General Assembly has approved a rule that says a vehicle owner whose license plate frame or cover makes important parts of a license plate illegible can be fined. That includes the number or letter on the plate, the state name or the number or month on the registration renewal sticker. The law goes into effect Dec. 1.
Marge Howell, communications officer for the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, looks at the situation in a positive way.
“This is for the security and safety of law enforcement personnel,” she said. “They would need to tell where the plate is from and making sure the information in visible.”
First Sergeant Andreas Dietrich of the Highway Patrol said that a driver can be cited for the offense.
“This would be a misdemeanor and it can result in fines,” he said.
As of Oct. 1, the court fee for a misdemeanor is $143 and a $25 fine but Dietrich said that the fees could change once the law goes into effect.
Chief Robert Voorhees of the Rockingham Police Department said that he doesn’t foresee any problems with this new law.
“It shouldn’t be an issue once the law is passed,” he said.
He confirmed that a citation could be issued but the officers will look at each encounter on a case by case basis. Another change is the term for a driver’s license will increase to eight years for people ages 18 to 65. A driver’s license issued to a person 66 and older expires after five years. Currently, the law required a five-year license for those 55 years old and older. This law is effective Jan. 1.
Riders may also want to mark their calendars twice on Jan. 1 because motorcycle learner’s permits will only be issued for 12 months and only one renewal of six months will be allowed. Anyone younger than 18 who applies to get a motorcycle learner’s permit or a driver license with a motorcycle endorsements must pass a course taught by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or the North Carolina Motorcycle Education Program. The fee for a license endorsement is $1.75 a year.
Other laws passed include:
n Commercial driver licenses will expire five years after they are issued because of requirements for meeting hazardous material regulations, which goes into effect Dec. 1.
n The number of dealer license plate that can be issued will increase based on previous sales volume for demonstration purposes with an appropriate permit. That begins Dec. 1.
n The NC DMV will no longer charge vehicle owners a $1 postage and handling fee for renewing their vehicle registration by mail. The change begins on Dec. 1.
Staff Writer Hollie Nivens can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 19, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org