South-Western Legal Studies in Business

State Regulations of Highway Wrecker Service Proper
Description

North Carolina appeals court held that the state was not preempted by federal law from regulating highway safety and had properly authorized the Highway Patrol to regulate qualifications for wreckers that would be called to accident scenes.

Topic Administrative Law
Key Words

Regulation; Promulgation; Authority; Preemption; Challenges

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

North Carolina's Highway Patrol (HP) adopted rules governing private wreckers that would be included on the list of wreckers to be called in case of accidents and emergencies. Ramey's wrecker service was not included on the list because he did not respond to at least 75% of the calls to him by the HP as the rules required. Ramey sued, contending that the HP did not have authority to make such rules and that federal regulation of the highways preempted such state regulation. The trial court dismissed the suit; Ramey appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. The state legislature has authority to transfer rule-making power to administrative bodies so long as such transfers are accompanied by adequate guiding standards to govern the exercise of delegated powers. Federal regulations prohibit the states from regulating the price, route, or service of motor carriers, but do not prohibit the states from regulating safety issues, such as which wreckers may be summoned in case of an accident. The HP's rules were clearly related to public highway safety as they governed the reliability of wreckers called to accident scenes.

Citation

Ramey v. Easley, ---S.E.2d --- (2006 WL 1675827, Ct. App., N.C., 2006)

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