North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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August 13, 1977

Subject:

Motor Vehicles; G.S. 20-37.6; Handicapped Persons; Parking Privileges

Requested By:

Ms. Mary Claire McNaught Winston-Salem Public Safety Attorney

Questions:

(1)
May a municipal parking ticket be issued for violation of G.S. 20-37.6(d) or must an offender of this provision be personally served with a citation?
(2)
If a parking ticket may be issued, what should be the amount of a fine assessed against a violation of G.S. 20-37.6(d)?

Conclusions:

(1)
Yes, a parking ticket may be issued.
(2)
One Dollar ($1.00) if the prima facie rule of evidence is used pursuant to the provisions of

G.S. 20-37.6(2) (d) and G.S. 20-162.1 and not more than Ten Dollars ($10.00) if litigated and the violator identified.

As to Conclusion (1), city police officers are charged with the enforcement of the motor vehicle laws under the provisions of G.S. 20-183, which reads:

"§ 20-183. Duties and powers of law-enforcement officers; warning by local officers before stopping another vehicle on highway; warning tickets. -- (a) It shall be the duty of the law-enforcement officers of the State and of each county, city, or other municipality to see that the provisions of this Article are enforced within their respective jurisdictions, and any such officer shall have the power to arrest on sight or upon warrant any person found violating the provisions of this Article. Such officers within their respective jurisdictions shall have the power to stop any motor vehicle upon the highways of the State for the purpose of determining whether the same is being operated in violation of any of the provisions of this Article. Provided, that when any county, city, or other municipal law-enforcement officer operating a motor vehicle over-takes another vehicle on the highways of the State, outside of the corporate limits of cities and towns, for the purpose of stopping the same or apprehending the driver thereof, for a violation of any of the provisions of this Article, he shall, before stopping such other vehicle, sound a siren or activate a special light, bell, horn, or exhaust whistle approved for law-enforcement vehicles under the provisions of G.S. 20-125(b).

(b) In addition to other duties and powers heretofore existing, all law-enforcement officers charged with the duty of enforcing the motor vehicle laws are authorized to issue warning tickets to motorists for conduct constituting a potential hazard to the motoring public which does not amount to a definite, clear-cut, substantial violation of the motor vehicle laws. Each warning ticket issued shall be prenumbered and shall contain information necessary to identify the offender, and shall be signed by the issuing officer. A copy of each warning ticket issued shall be delivered to such offender and a copy thereof forwarded by the issuing officer forthwith to the Driver License Section of the Division of Motor Vehicles but shall not be filed with or in any manner become a part of the offender's driving record. Warning tickets issued as well as the fact of issuance shall be privileged information and available only to authorized personnel of the Division for statistical and analytical purposes."

Though G.S. 20-183 refers to the provisions of this Article, the language of Chapter 340 of the 1977 Session Laws of North Carolina clearly indicates that the intent of the General Assembly was for the applicable sections of Chapter 20 of the General Statutes to apply for the purpose of implementing this chapter. This position is bolstered by the references in Chapter 340 to various sections of Chapter 20 throughout the chapter and particularly to the specific provisions of G.S. 20-37.6(2) (d) (Section 2, Chapter 340 of the 1977 Session Laws), wherein the provisions of G.S. 20-162.1 is made applicable to violations of the handicapped parking privileges. G.S. 20-162.1 reads as follows:

"§ 20-162.1. Prima facie rule of evidence for enforcement of parking regulations. -- Whenever evidence shall be presented in any court of the fact that any automobile, truck, or other vehicle was found upon any street, alley or other public place contrary to and in violation of provisions of any statute or of any municipal ordinance limiting the time during which any such vehicle may be parked or prohibiting or otherwise regulating the parking of any such vehicle, it shall be prima facie evidence in any court in the State of North Carolina that such vehicle was parked and left upon such street, alley or public way or place by the person, firm or corporation in whose name such vehicle is then registered and licensed according to the records of the department or agency of the State of North Carolina, by whatever name designated, which is empowered to register such vehicles and to issue licenses for their operation upon the streets and highways of this State; provided, that no evidence tendered or presented under the authorization contained in this section shall be admissible or competent in any respect in any court or tribunal, except in cases concerned solely with violation of statutes or ordinances limiting, prohibiting or otherwise regulating the parking of automobiles or other vehicles upon public streets, highways, or other public places.

Any person convicted pursuant to this section shall be subject to a penalty of one dollar ($1.00)."

Ordinarily, words of a statute will be given their natural, approved and recognized meaning and when construing an ambiguous statute, its language must be read contextually and with reference to the matters dealt with the objects and purposes sought to be accomplished. Related statutes should be construed so as to give full force and effect to each of them if they can be reconciled and harmonized by reasonable interpretation. Cab Co. v. Charlotte, 234 N.C. 572; Cox v. Brown, 218 N.C. 350. The language of the statute will be interpreted to avoid absurd consequences. Person v. Garrett, Commr. of Motor Vehicles, 280 N.C. 163.

The clear intent of Chapter 340 of the 1977 Session Laws of North Carolina is to insure that parking spaces provided for handicapped persons are available for their use. To properly implement the statute, the police must be permitted to use the customary tools of their trade including the "ticket" and uniform citation.

As to Conclusion (2), the prima facie rule (G.S. 20-162.1, supra), being specifically made applicable (G.S. 20-37.6(2)(d)) to violations of this chapter, the obvious intent would be for enforcement purposes. Therefore, if the prima facie rule is used, the fine would be limited to one dollar ($1.00). However, if the rule is not applied and the operator is identified in a litigated case, the fine may not be more than ten dollars ($10.00). G.S. 20-37.6(2)(d), as amended).

Rufus L. Edmisten Attorney General

William W. Melvin Deputy Attorney General