The state legislature and Department of Transportation (NCDOT), through the Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV), regulate issuance of all driver licenses in North Carolina. Individuals over age 18 may apply for either a standard Driver License or standard Learner Permit by meeting specific requirements. In contrast, for teen drivers, the state has a comprehensive program providing the education and experience to ensure that young drivers will be able to drive responsibly before they are permitted to drive without supervision.
For teens between the ages of 15 to 18, North Carolina has a multi-tiered or graduated licensing process. The system has three levels and strict requirements for attaining each one:
Individuals can sign up for driver education classes at age 14½, either at school or at a commercial driver training school. At age 15 and on completion of the classes, the person can begin the process for a driver license by applying for a Limited Learner Permit. The process is the same for everyone between the ages of 15 and 18.
To begin the process, the person submits a written application with required documents, which include:
To receive a Driving Eligibility Certificate, a person must be between the ages of 15 and 18. In addition, the individual must:
A person who meets one of these requirements and completes driver education classes can apply to his or her school for an eligibility certificate. An individual is disqualified from receiving an eligibility certificate for a period of time if he or she has been:
At least one “responsible supervisor” must sign the learner permit application. A responsible supervisor is a parent, legal guardian, grandparent, or an adult approved by a parent or guardian who has been a licensed driver for more than five years.
The applicant must also pass written, sign, and vision tests before the Limited Learner Permit will be issued.
There are a number of restrictions that apply to a driver who has a Limited Learner Permit:
Violations of the first two restrictions can result in misdemeanor charge. Using a mobile phone or related device is punishable by a fine of $25.
While driving with a Limited Learner Permit, the driver must maintain a detailed driving log. To apply for the next level, a Limited Provisional License, the log must show least 60 hours of driving time. At least 10 hours must be at night, and no more than 10 hours per week will count toward the 60-hour requirement.
After the permit holder turns age 16 and has driven with a Limited Learner Permit for at least 12 months, he or she may apply for a Limited Provisional License. The requirements for advancing to Level Two are:
A Limited Provisional License permits the holder to drive unsupervised between the hours of 5 am and 9 pm or when driving directly to or from work or for volunteer fire, rescue, or emergency service. The prohibition on mobile phone use continues, and the driver also may not carry more than one passenger under 21 years old when driving unsupervised.
The third level, a Full Provisional License, permits the holder to drive unsupervised at any time. An individual may apply for the license after driving with a Limited Provisional License for six months without convictions of moving or seat belt/mobile phone violations within the preceding six months. The license continues the restriction prohibiting mobile phone use while driving on public vehicular areas.
After reaching the age of 18 years, an individual may apply for a standard Driver License.
For any person under 18 years old, the driver will face license or permit suspension if:
The suspension lasts for 12 months or until a Driving Eligibility Certificate is obtained. In the North Carolina statutes, this provision is entitled, "Lose Control; Lose License."
The Twiford Law Firm, P.C. stands ready to help with all your legal needs, including driver license issues and traffic violations. With offices in Elizabeth City and Moyock, we serve clients in multiple counties, including Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde, Pasquotank, Perquimans, and Tyrrell. Contact us today at 252-338-4151 or 252-435-2811 to schedule an initial consultation.