11/07/10 — New laws will affect N.C. drivers in December

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New laws will affect N.C. drivers in December

By Staff Reports
Published in News on November 7, 2010 1:50 AM

Starting next month a license plate frame or cover that obscures certain parts of a vehicle's plate could cost the vehicle's owner up to $100.

The new law is one of several passed by the General Assembly affecting the state's drivers, automobile dealers and vehicle owners. The new law go into effect in December and in January 2011.

Under the new late that is effective Dec. 1, the vehicle owner can be fined if a frame or cover makes the state name, or the number or month on the registration renewal sticker illegible.

Beginning Dec. 1:

* Commercial driver's licenses will expire five years after issuance because of requirements for meeting hazardous materials regulations. These licenses used to expire on the same schedule as the regular Class C driver's license.

* The number of dealer license plates that can be issued to dealers will increase based on previous sales volume and the number of qualified sales representatives working with the dealer. Dealer plates may be used for demonstration purposes with an appropriate permit.

* The use of transporter plates will be restricted to motor vehicles being used for business purposes only, and the business operator must show proof of insurance. Fines for violating these requirements have been increased to $100 for the individual driver and $250 per occurrence charged to the dealer or business.

* The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles will no longer charge vehicle owners a $1 postage and handling fee for renewing their vehicle registration by mail.

Effective Jan. 1, 2011:

* The term of issuance for persons receiving a driver's license will increase to eight years for a person 18-65 years old. A driver's license issued to a person 66 years old and older expires after five years. Formerly, the law required a five-year license for those 55 years old and older.

* A motorcycle learner's permit will be issued for only 12 months, and only one renewal of six months will be allowed. Anyone under 18 who applies to get a motorcycle learner's permit or a driver license with a motorcycle endorsement must pass a course taught by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or the N.C. Motorcycle Safety Education Program.

Other changes in motor vehicle laws became effective earlier in 2010:

* Beginning in July, the three-day trip permit was replaced by a 10-day trip permit, which may be issued to a person whose vehicle is not currently registered and needs to pass an inspection. The permit authorizes a person with proof of insurance to drive a vehicle whose inspection has expired to have the vehicle properly inspected and then registered. These permits are issued either by the DMV License and Theft Bureau or by any contract license plate agency.

* Beginning Sept. 1, the fee for restoring a driver's license that has been revoked for impaired driving increased from $75 to $100, and the $25 increase is being used to fund a statewide chemical alcohol testing program administered by the Forensic Tests for Alcohol Branch of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section of the Department of Health and Human Services. The remaining $75 is deposited in the General Fund.

* On Oct. 1, legislation took effect which does not allow the holder of a commercial driver's license to have a disqualification expunged from his record. Also beginning that date, a sex offender who is registered in another state and moves to North Carolina must also register as a sex offender in North Carolina.