North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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September 23, 1977

Subject:

G.S. 20-218: Speed limits for school activity buses and special buses.

Requested By:

Major D. R. Emory North Carolina State Highway Patrol

Question:

What is the proper wording of G.S. 20-218 in light of the actions taken by the 1977 Legislature in ratifying Chapters 791 and 1102?

Conclusions:

Chapter 1102 is of no statutory consequence. G.S. 20-218 should read as provided in Chapter

791. The maximum speed limit for activity buses and special buses remains at 45 miles per hour. The 1977 Legislature passed two separate bills purportedly altering G.S. 20-218. Chapter 791 repealed the second paragraph of G.S. 20-218, designated the first paragraph subsection (a), and added subsections (b) and (c). Chapter 1102, ratified two days after Chapter 791, attempted to amend a portion of the paragraph repealed by Chapter 791.

Case law holds that an act purportedly amending a statute which has been repealed is a nullity. State v. Blackwell, 246 N.C. 642, 99 S.E. 2d 867 (1957). Therefore, it is our opinion that Chapter 791 will take effect as ratified. Chapter 1102 is of no statutory consequence. The law, as it now reads, is set out below.

G.S. 20-218. Standard qualifications for school bus drivers; speed limit.

(a)
No person shall drive or operate a school bus over the public roads of North Carolina while the same is occupied by children unless said person shall be fully trained on the operation of motor vehicles, and shall furnish to the superintendent of the schools of the county in which said bus shall be operated a certificate from the Highway Patrol of North Carolina, or from any representative duly designated by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, and the chief mechanic in charge of school buses in said county showing that he has been examined by a member of the said Highway Patrol, or a representative duly designated by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, and said chief mechanic in charge of school buses in said county and he is a fit and competent person to operate or drive a school bus over the public roads of the State. Notwithstanding the above, school activity buses may be operated by a person who holds a school bus driver's certificate or a chauffeur's license.
(b)
It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or drive a school bus loaded with children over the public roads of North Carolina at a greater rate of speed than 35 miles per hour, with the following exceptions:
(1)
For school activity buses which are painted a different color from regular school buses and

which are being used for transportation of students or others to or from places for participation in events other than regular classroom work, it shall be unlawful to operate such a school activity bus at a greater rate of speed than 45 miles per hour.

(2)
For school busses or special buses with capacity of 16 pupils or less that are used to transport students who are children with special needs; it shall be unlawful to operate the buses at a greater speed than 45 miles per hour.
(c)
Any person violating this section shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than fifty dollars ($50.00) or imprisoned for not more than 30 days.

Rufus L. Edmisten Attorney General

David Roy Blackwell Associate Attorney