113-140. Warning tickets.

(a) In enforcing the laws and rules within their subject matter jurisdiction, wildlife protectors and marine fisheries inspectors may, in accordance with the criteria of this section, issue warning tickets to offenders instead of initiating criminal prosecutions.

(b) To secure uniformity of enforcement, the Executive Director and the Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries may administratively promulgate standards consistent with subsection (c) providing that warning tickets may or may not be issued with respect to particular offenses, classes of offenses, or ways of committing offenses.

(c) A protector or inspector may issue a warning ticket only if all of the following conditions are met:

(1) The protector or inspector is convinced that the offense was not intentional.

(2) The offense is not of a kind or committed in a manner as to which warning tickets have been prohibited by the Executive Director or the Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries.

(3) The conduct of the offender was not calculated to result in any significant destruction of wildlife or fisheries resources.

(4) The conduct of the offender did not constitute a hazard to the public.

A warning ticket may not be issued if the offender has previously been charged with or issued a warning ticket for a similar offense.

(d) If any law-enforcement officer with jurisdiction over the offense or if any employee of the Wildlife Resources Commission or the Department learns that under the criteria of this section a warning ticket was inappropriately issued to an offender, he must take action to secure initiation of prosecution for the appropriate charge or charges unless barred by the statute of limitations or unless prosecution is not otherwise feasible because of unavailability of evidence or necessary witnesses.

(e) Before any warning tickets are issued, the Executive Director or the Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries must institute a procedure to ensure an accurate accounting for and recording of all warning tickets issued. This procedure may include use of prenumbered tickets and immediate notation of issuance of the warning ticket on each appropriate license or permit issued by the Wildlife Resources Commission or Department held by the offender. The Executive Director or the Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries may also provide for issuance of new, replacement, or renewal licenses and permits bearing the notation. The licenses covered by this subsection include certificates of number for motorboats.

(f) This section does not entitle any person who has committed an offense with the right to be issued a warning ticket. That issuance of a warning ticket may be appropriate under the criteria of this section does not restrict in any manner the powers of a wildlife protector or marine fisheries inspector or any other law-enforcement officer under G.S. 113-136, 113-137, and other provisions of law in dealing with hunters, fishermen, operators of vessels, and other offenders and suspected offenders.

(g) Issuance of a warning ticket does not constitute evidence of the commission of an offense, but may be used to prevent issuance of a subsequent warning ticket to the same person for a similar offense. (1981, c. 252, s. 1; 1987, c. 827, s. 98; 1989, c. 308.)