North Carolina Department of Justice
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Reply To: Crime Control Section (voice) 919-716-6500 (fax) 919-716-6760 January 21, 1999


Colonel Kenneth C. Sallenger Command Logistics Officer North Carolina National Guard 4105 Reedy Creek Road Raleigh NC 27607-6410

RE: Advisory Opinion: Speed Restrictions for Military Tactical Vehicles on Interstates and Other Highways Within North Carolina

Dear Colonel Sallenger:

Pursuant to your written request of 7 December 1998, North Carolina General Statute 20-141 governs speed limits of vehicles on all highways within the state of North Carolina. Your concern is that the military tactical vehicles cannot be safely operated at or near the posted maximum speed limit. North Carolina state law, however, does not prohibit the operating of such vehicles at slow speeds due to safety concerns.

N.C.G.S. 20-141(c) provides that except when towing another vehicle, or when an advisory safe speed indicates that slower speed, it is unlawful to operate a passenger vehicle on the interstate and primary highway system at less than 40 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone, or 45 m.p.h. in a 60 m.p.h. zone. "These minimum speeds shall be effective only when appropriate signs are posted indicating the minimum speed." As Mr. Lynch from the N.C. Department of Transportation indicated, there are no posted minimum speed limits in North Carolina.

In addition, N.C.G.S. 20-141(h) reads as follows: "No person shall operate a motor vehicle on a highway at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law; provided this provision shall not apply to farm tractors and other motor vehicles operated at reasonable speeds for the type and nature of such vehicles."

As you indicated in your letter, for safety reasons and based upon the construction of the military tactical vehicles, they are operated at substantially below the posted speed limit. The General Statutes do not require the vehicles to be operated faster than safety allows. Consequently, the provisions of N.C.G.S. 20-141(h), relating to impeding the normal flow of traffic, would not apply to these vehicles.

Colonel Kenneth C. Sallenger January 21, 1999 Page 2

While it is clear that extra safety precautions must be taken with these slow-moving vehicles because of the potential hazards, operating these vehicles at such slow speeds does not violate the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Code.

It is hoped that this advisory opinion has answered your questions.


Isaac T. Avery, III Special Deputy Attorney General


cc: Colonel Wayne Woodard

National Guard Mr. Jimmy Lynch
Department of Transportation
Attorney General's Office

Mr. Hal Askins Motor Vehicles Section

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SUMMARY: Military vehicles can be operated below the posted speed limit.