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North Carolina Learners Permit Restrictions - NC Driving Permit Rules

North Carolina Learners Permit Restrictions - NC Driving Permit Rules

In order to ensure the safety of all newly licensed drivers, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles sets a number of permit restrictions that must be observed at all times. The North Carolina learners permit restrictions help drivers to stay away from trouble and avoid most of the potentially dangerous on-road situations. Failure to observe the North Carolina driving permit rules may result in your driving privileges being suspended or canceled altogether.

Why Do We Need These Restrictions

The main reason why the state has developed these permit restrictions is the fact that inexperienced drivers are highly likely to be involved in a traffic accident. Experience is everything when it comes to driving, it allows you to anticipate and avoid most of the potentially dangerous situations. Unfortunately, those who just received a North Carolina drivers license usually lack the skills required for safe operation of a motor vehicle, even if they took a few professional driving lessons. That's why the license issuance is usually preceded by the learners permit stage, when the new driver is coupled with a more experienced partner. The driver who has more experience must compensate for the possible mistakes that can be made by the permit holder and thus unsure a relatively safe driving environment. When enough experience is gained, the learners permit can be upgraded to a full North Carolina driver's license by taking a road skills exam, at which point all learners permit restrictions are lifted.

Age Dependent Permit Restrictions in North Carolina

Sadly, teenage drivers face even more risks on the road than drivers of any other age group. In addition to the lack of driving experience, teen drivers are also much more likely to be distracted by peers, cell phone or radio usage. In order to address all these factors, the state has developed a graduated drivers license system, which is a set of laws that govern the permit and license restrictions for drivers who are under 18 years of age. The graduated license law also requires teenage drivers to complete a mandatory drivers education course before a driving permit can be issued. You may read more about the graduated license laws in the North Carolina driver handbook.

Learners Permit Restrictions - Over 18

If you are over 18 years of age, there will be only one restriction that you must observe immaculately - you cannot drive alone. You must have another licensed driver seated next to you at all times while practicing your driving skills.

Note: although the graduated license restrictions do not apply to you if you are over 18 years of age, you still have to take the same tests as teenage drivers - both the permit test and the driving skills exam. If you want to see what the permit test will be like, you can take a few practice permit tests that follow the same format as the real exam.

Graduated License Restrictions - Under 18

The graduated license system divides the licensing procedure for teenagers into a number of consecutive steps and each step has its own set of restrictions. The main stages of the North Carolina graduated license process are:

  • Level 1 - Limited Learners Permit
  • Level 2 - Limited Provisional License
  • Level 3 - Full Provisional License

These stages are followed with the issuance of a full unrestricted driver license once the licensee reaches the age of 18.

Limited Learner Permit Restrictions

You have to observe the following restrictions while driving with your limited learners permit:

  • Supervised driving only. You can operate a vehicle only if there is a supervising driver seated next to you. The supervising driver must be your parent, grand parent, legal guardian or another driver appointed by your parents. The supervising driver must have at least 5 years of driving experience and hold a valid North Carolina driver license.
  • Curfew. You can't drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the first 6 months following the issuance of the permit.
  • No cell phones. You cannot use any communication devices while driving on public roads.

Limited Provisional License Restrictions

Once you pass the driving test and receive your limited provision license, you may drive without a supervising driver, but you may still observe the following rules:

  • Curfew. No driving alone between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. If you need to drive during these hours, you must have a supervising driver seated next to you. Exceptions are made when you travel directly to and from work or in emergency situations.
  • Seat belts. Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seat belts.
  • Passenger restrictions. Only one passenger who is under 21 years of age is allowed to be present in the vehicle. This rule does not apply to the immediate family members.
  • Cell phones. Cell phone usage is strictly prohibited while you are driving.

Full Provisional License

Finally, there is a full provisional drivers license. This license lacks all permit restrictions of the previous stages, except for one - you still cannot use a cell phone while driving a vehicle. This restriction will be lifted on your 18th birthday when you upgrade to a full driver license.