N.C. law allows bigger boats on highways

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The North Carolina General Assembly yesterday overrode Gov. Michael Easley’s veto of a bill that allows for an increase in the size of boats that can be transported on the state’s highways.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, allows boats with beams up to 10 feet to be towed without a permit and beams up to 9 feet to be towed at night. It also provides for an annual permit, as opposed to a single-trip permit, for oversize boats.

The bill passed unanimously in the state Senate and by a vote of 95-8 in the House, marking the first time in state history a governor’s veto has been overridden by the General Assembly.

In vetoing the bill Aug. 17, Easley cited safety concerns as his reason for not supporting the proposal. Easley also noted the bill would allow a driver blood alcohol level of .08, double that allowed by commercial vehicles of smaller sizes.

“I sincerely believe that this bill puts families at risk on highways and would result in death or serious injury,” he wrote in his veto message, noting the state’s roughly 600,000 miles of narrow two-lane roads.

“If two 9-1/2-foot [beam] boats were to meet on an 18-foot strip of road or bridge, it would be physically impossible to escape a collision,” the governor wrote.

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