S.L. 2011-385 Targets Unsafe Driving by Teenagers

Fifteen years ago, the General Assembly enacted S.L. 1997-16, implementing graduated driver’s licenses requirements for people under the age of 18, who are termed provisional licensees. Pursuant to G.S. 20-11, driving privileges are granted to minors on a limited basis and are expanded as a provisional licensee meets additional requirements. The process is designed to ensure that provisional licensees have both instruction and experience—elements the legislature deems essential for safe driving—before obtaining a driver’s license.

Amendments to G.S. 20-11 in the years since adoption of graduated licensing have further restricted driving by provisional licensees by limiting the number of passengers under 21 who may be in the vehicle and by prohibiting mobile phone use by such drivers. Nevertheless, the issue of unsafe driving by teenagers continues to plague North Carolina and its legislature.

S.L. 2011-385 enacts several provisions, effective October 1, 2011, designed to address this problem.

First, the act amends G.S. 20-11 to require that applicants for limited and full provisional licenses submit to DMV driving logs signed by a supervising driver. To obtain a limited provisional license, the applicant’s driving log must list 60 hours of driving, at least 10 hours of which occurred at night. No more than 10 hours of driving per week may be counted. An applicant seeking a full provisional license must submit a log detailing 12 hours of driving, at least 6 hours of which occurred at night. If DMV has cause to believe that a driving log has been falsified, the applicant must complete a new driving log and is not eligible to obtain the license for which he or she applied for six months.

The act’s second approach to curbing unsafe driving is to require the immediate revocation of a provisional license when the licensee is charged with a misdemeanor or felony motor vehicle offense that is defined as a criminal moving violation. A “criminal moving violation” is a violation of Part 9 or 10 of Article 3 of Chapter 20 that is punishable as a misdemeanor or felony offense. The term does not include offenses listed in G.S. 20-16(c) for which no driver’s license points are assessed, nor does it include equipment violations in Part 9 of Article 3 of Chapter 20. Thus, for example, the unlawful use of a blue light on a vehicle in violation of G.S. 20-130.1 is not a criminal moving violation because that offense is an equipment violation codified in Part 9 of Article 3 of Chapter 20. In contrast, speeding more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit or more than 80 miles per hour in violation of G.S. 20-141(j1) is a criminal moving violation as this offense is a misdemeanor codified in Part 10 of Article 3 of Chapter 20 and is not listed as a conviction for which no points may be assessed in G.S. 20-16(c).

New G.S. 13-3 provides that if a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a person under the age of 18 who has a limited learner’s permit or a provisional license has committed a criminal moving violation, the person is charged with that violation, and the person’s license is not subject to civil revocation for a violation of the implied consent laws (you can read more about those types of civil license revocations here) the law enforcement officer must execute a revocation report and take the provisional licensee before a judicial official for an initial appearance. This requires law enforcement officers to arrest provisional licensees charged with misdemeanor motor vehicle offenses, such as speeding, for which drivers typically are cited and released.

The revocation report must be filed with the judicial official (typically, a magistrate) conducting the initial appearance on the underlying criminal moving violation. If a properly executed report is filed with a judicial official when the person is present, the judicial official must, after completing any other proceedings, determine whether there is probable cause to believe the conditions requiring civil license revocation pursuant to G.S. 20-13.3(b) are met. If the judicial official finds probable cause, he or she must enter an order revoking the provisional licensee’s permit or license for 30 days. The provisional licensee (unlike a person whose license is revoked for an implied consent offense pursuant to G.S. 20-16.5) is not required to surrender his or her permit or license card. The clerk must notify DMV of the issuance of a G.S. 20-13.3 revocation order within two business days. A person whose license is revoked under G.S. 20-13.3 is not eligible for a limited driving privilege.

S.L. 2011-385 directs DMV to study the issue of teen driving and the effectiveness of the act’s provisions. DMV specifically must determine whether, beginning October 1, 2011, there has been a decrease in any of the following types of incidents involving provisional licensees:  property damage crashes, personal injury crashes, fatal crashes, moving violations, and seat belt violations. DMV must report its findings to the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee by February 1, 2014.

10 thoughts on “S.L. 2011-385 Targets Unsafe Driving by Teenagers”

  1. If they are not required to surrender the P/L to the judicial official, do we inform them that they cannot drive but here is your P/L back and rely on their good faith to follow the order? I assume it would allow them to be charged with DWLR should they choose to drive.

    Also, based on what I read it appears that a civil revocation for an implied consent offense supersedes this one even if based on the same conduct. However, if they were charged with another criminal traffic offense later while still under the implied consent civil revocation, would they be eligible for re-revocation under 20-13.3 or does the implied consent still take precedence and have to expire before a revocation under 20-13.3 could be issued?

    • GuilfMag: Your questions are good ones. The judicial official must provide the defendant with a revocation order that states the date on which the permit or license again becomes valid. Driving a motor vehicle on a street or highway during this revocation period would constitute DWLR in violation of G.S. 20-28(a).

      New G.S. 20-13.3(b) provides that a judicial official may not enter a 20-13.3 revocation if the provisional licensee “is subject to a civil revocation pursuant to G.S. 20-16.5.” (G.S. 20-16.5 is the civil revocation provision applicable to implied consent offenses.) This subsection doesn’t specifically state that it refers to a civil license revocation for the same underlying conduct. Nevertheless, that’s what I think it means. New G.S. 20-13.3(f) states that “[r]evocations under this section are independent of and run concurrently with any other revocations, except for a revocation pursuant to G.S. 20-16.5. Any civil revocation issued pursuant to G.S. 20-16.5 for the same underlying conduct as a revocation under this section shall have the effect of terminating a revocation pursuant to this section.” Thus, it is clear that the entry of a G.S. 20-16.5 revocation subsequent to a G.S. 20-13.3 revocation for the same conduct terminates the G.S. 20-13.3 revocation.

      In the scenario you inquired about, the provisional licensee already was revoked pursuant to G.S. 20-16.5. He or she drove anyway, and was charged with a criminal moving violation (for which reasonable grounds exist) for which he or she is not subject to a G.S. 20-16.5 revocation. It is my view that this driver is subject to a G.S. 20-13.3 revocation since the G.S. 20-16.5 revocation is premised on different conduct. The G.S. 20-13.3 revocation would be entered at the initial appearance. In this case, it appears that the G.S. 20-13.3 revocation would run concurrently with the G.S. 20-16.5 revocation, though, depending upon the length of the G.S. 20-16.5 revocation, the G.S. 20-13.3 revocation might last longer than the G.S. 20-16.5 revocation.

  2. What about drivers who currently are driving with a learner’s permit? Does the new law only apply to those who get their permit after October 1, or would current permit holders have the same requirement, but with less time to comply?

  3. That’s a great question, and I think the answer is unclear. Section 6 of S.L. 2011-385 provides that the provisions requiring driving logs “become effective October 1, 2011, and apply to limited learner’s permits and limited provisional licenses issued on or after that date.” One interpretation of this provision is that driving logs must be submitted by holders of limited learner’s permits that were issued on or after October 1, 2011 in order to obtain a full provisional license. That interpretation explains why “limited learner’s permits” are referenced in connection with the effective date for these provisions at all, given that the log requirements govern only provisional licenses. This view fails, however, to explain why the law also is effective for “limited provisional licenses issued on or after” October 1, 2011. Thus, another plausible interpretation is that the driving log requirements apply to current holders of limited learner’s permits, giving them a compressed time in which to comply. See Bruce Siceloff, Obstacle to Teen License Under Fire, News and Observer (August 16, 2011), available here: (concluding that logs are required for any provisional license issued after October 1 and reporting some legislators’ desires to amend the law to avoid this effect.)

    • The effective date of this legislation was amended by H 335, ratified by the General Assembly on September 14, 2011 and presented to the governor on September 15, 2011. The bill, chaptered as SL 2011-412, became law without the governor’s signature on October 15, 2011.

      The 60 hour driving log requirement to obtain a limited provisional license applies to persons issued a limited learner’s permit on or after January 1, 2012.

      The 12 hour driving log requirement to obtain a full provisional license applies to persons issued a limited provisional license on or after January 1, 2012.

      The new civil license revocation is effective January 1, 2012 for offenses committed on or after that date.

      To carry out the legislature’s intent as reflected in H 335 and to avoid the confusion that would be caused by implementing the provisional licensee civil revocation as of October 1, 2011 and, shortly thereafter suspending it until January 1, 2012, the Administrative Office of the Courts elected not to implement S.L. 2011-385 (S 636) on October 1, 2011, instead delaying its implementation until January 1, 2012.

  4. Is there a provision in this for the officers to defer the appearance or must they arrest and take to the magistrate or other judicial officer at that time?

  5. G.S. 20-13.3(c) provides: “If a provisional licensee’s permit or license is subject to revocation under this section, the law enforcement officer must execute a revocation report and must take the provisional licensee before a judicial officer for an initial appearance. It is the specific duty of the law enforcement officer to make sure that the report is expeditiously filed with a judicial official as required by this section.”

  6. Will the fact that the person is arrested and taken before a migistrate while under the age of 18 mean that they have a permanent criminal record? Or ill it be removed from their file when they turn 18?

  7. Ҥ 20-13.3. Immediate civil license revocation for provisional licensees charged with 45 certain offenses.
    (g) Designation of Proceedings. – Proceedings under this section are civil actions and 3 must be identified by the caption “In the Matter of ______” and filed as directed by the 4 Administrative Office of the Courts.

    Here is a situation that I have a question on. If this is a civil matter as I read it under (g), then can the LEO not request or require the defendant to accompany the LEO to the magistrates office for the hearing instead of arrest. He is an example of what we have just encountered this week. An LEO stops a seventeen yo for speeding 18 mph over the limit. The LEO cites and releases the defendant but learns or realizes that the defendant must go before the magistrate. Arrangements are made for the defendant to meet the LEO the following day at the magistrates office for the civil proceeding. At this time, the defendant is given a conditional order for release. Is this not illegal since the LEO cited and released but then when it is clear that the defendant appeared voluntarily before the judicial official for the civil hearing that they were processed as an arrest? Please advise as this is confusing. I understand that the LEO could arrest on scene for the (m) and transport to the judicial official but when its a day later, this seems wrong. Thanks for your imput

  8. Are officers required to arrest a provisional licensee for consuming alochol while driving or with alcohol on their breath? Is there a minimum breath sample and is the Alco-sensor still admissable.


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