I often get asked about the laws in North Carolina that pertain to motorcycles and their riders. A lot of attention is paid to the helmet law which you can find in North Carolina General Statute 20-140.4. The helmet law was discussed at the last long session of the general assembly, but no change to the current law was made. Stay tuned for updates.
The principal laws in North Carolina affecting motorcyclists are contained in chapter 20 of the North Carolina General Statutes and cover anything from registration to horns to lights to driving 2 abreast in single lane. If you want to check if there is a law in North Carolina on a particular issue, just Google the following: NCGS chapter 20 motorcycle (then the issue you are interested in)
There has been 1 piece of new motorcycle related legislation. Effective October 1, 2013, the North Carolina legislature enacted a new motorcycle safety law NCGS 20-154 which increases fines and other penalties for drivers who cause an accident involving a motorcycle. I set out the relevant portions of the law below. Of note, however, the new law indicates that a trial judge will have the authority to order the license of any driver violating this new law to be suspended for a period not to exceed 30 days.
The driver of any vehicle upon a highway or public vehicular area before starting, stopping or turning from a direct line shall first see that such movement can be made in safety, and if any pedestrian may be affected by such movement shall give a clearly audible signal by sounding the horn, and whenever the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by such movement, shall give a signal as required in this section, plainly visible to the driver of such other vehicle, of the intention to make such movement. The driver of a vehicle shall not back the same unless such movement can be made with safety and without interfering with other traffic.
(a1) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section and causes a motorcycle operator to change travel lanes or leave that portion of any public street or highway designated as travel lanes shall be responsible for an infraction and shall be assessed a fine of not less than two hundred dollars ($200.00). A person who violates subsection (a) of this section that results in a crash causing property damage or personal injury to a motorcycle operator or passenger shall be responsible for an infraction and shall be assessed a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500.00) unless subsection (a2) of this section applies.
(a2) A person who violates subsection (a) of this section and the violation results in a crash causing property damage in excess of five thousand dollars ($5,000) or a serious bodily injury as defined in G.S. 20-160.1(b) to a motorcycle operator or passenger shall be responsible for an infraction and shall be assessed a fine of not less than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00). A violation of this subsection shall be treated as a failure to yield right-of-way to a motorcycle for purposes of assessment of points under G.S. 20-16(c). In addition, the trial judge shall have the authority to order the license of any driver violating this subsection suspended for a period not to exceed 30 days. If a judge orders suspension of a person’s drivers license pursuant to this subsection, the judge may allow the licensee a limited driving privilege for a period not to exceed the period of suspension. The limited driving privilege shall be issued in the same manner and under the terms and conditions prescribed in G.S. 20-16.1(b)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and G.S. 20-16.1(g).
If you have found yourself at the wrong end of a crash and need to talk to a motorcycle attorney, do not hesitate to call me at 800-942-1181.
Gary Poole “On the Side of Those Who Ride”