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North Carolina Graduated License Program - NC Graduated Drivers License Requirements

North Carolina Graduated License Program - NC Graduated Drivers License Requirements

Teenage drivers have the highest risk of being involved in a traffic accident among all age groups. This is why the procedure for obtaining a drivers license for teens is usually quite different for those who are under 18 years of age and adult drivers. North Carolina has its own version of a graduated drivers license system that mandates the licensing procedure for teenage drivers. The North Carolina graduated license system is very alike to the graduated license laws in many other states and it breaks the licensing procedure into a number of consecutive steps.

NC Graduated License Steps

The main goal of the North Carolina graduated license law is to ensure that teenagers become safe and responsible drivers and avoid most of the dangers affronted by young inexperienced drivers. This is achieved by breaking the licensing procedure into a number of steps. As the drivers license applicant proceeds through these steps, new skills and additional experience is gained and extra driving privileges are attained. This approach allows to lower the risks of a new driver being involved in a traffic accident. The North Carolina graduated license system has the following key stages:

  1. Limited learners permit
  2. Limited provisional license
  3. Full provisional license
  4. Full drivers license

You can enter the graduated license system and apply for your North Carolina learners permit when you are at least 15 years old.

Remember: the graduated license laws apply only to those who choose to apply for a drivers license before they are 18 years of age. If you are 18 years old or older, you do not need to follow this procedure.

NC Limited Learners Permit

The limited learners permit is issued to those applicants who are between 15 and 18 years old. Before you even apply for the limited permit, you must enroll in and complete a state-approved North Carolina drivers education class. The class must have at least 30 hours of classroom instruction time and 6 hours of professional driving lessons. You must have the certificate of completion for the course before you can apply for the permit at the DMV.

One of the key steps of the application is taking the North Carolina learners permit test at one of the DMV testing stations. The test covers the road sign, traffic rules and basic safe driving techniques. If you want to learn what kind of questions will be asked on the test, you are more than welcome to try one of the practice permit tests.

Once you pass the test at the DMV, you will be issued with a limited permit that allows you to drive while there is a supervising driver present in the vehicle. The supervising driver must be your parent, grand parent or another appointed driver who holds a valid drivers license and has at least 5 years of driving experience. There are other permit restrictions you are to observe, such as the curfew - you cannot drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the first 6 months after receiving the permit. Use of cell phones is also strictly prohibited, unless you have to call an emergency service.

The limited permit must be held for at least 12 months and you cannot have any traffic violations within 6 months prior to applying for a limited provisional license.

Limited Provisional License

In order to upgrade your learners permit to a provision license, you will be required to complete a driver license test and show that possess a good control of the vehicle. Although the provision license allows you to drive unsupervised, it still has the following restrictions:

  • Curfew. No driving alone between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. If you want to drive during these hours, you must have a supervising driver seated next to you.
  • Passenger restrictions. You can carry no more than one passenger who is younger than 21 years of age and who is not an immediate family member. This restriction does not apply to your immediate family members.
  • Seat belts. Everyone in the vehicle must be buckled up.
  • ell phones. You cannot operate a cell phone or any other communication devices while driving a vehicle. Exceptions can be made if you need to call an emergency service.

These restrictions must be observed for at least 6 months. If you comply with these graduated license requirements and don't commit any traffic violations during this period, you are upgraded to the full provisional license. No additional testing is required at this stage.

Full Provisional License

Once you gain your North Carolina full provisional license, all restrictions from the previous step are lifted. The only limitation on your provisional license is that you are not allowed to use a cell phone while driving on public roads. This limitation will be removed once you turn 18 years old and obtain your full drivers license.

There is a number of consequences you will face if you break the graduated license restrictions and you can read about them in the official North Carolina drivers manual. In most cases, your license will be suspended for some time. For more severe violations your driving privileges may be withdrawn until you turn 18.