Although there is no formal graduated drivers license program in North Dakota, the state still has a number of rules that apply to teenage drivers and aim at reducing the number of casualties among drivers of this age group. Observance of these graduated license rules is mandatory and failure to do so may cost you your driving privileges. The North Dakota graduated license rules apply only to drivers under the age of 18 and you can find a detailed list of the regulations in the drivers handbook.
As a teenage who is just considering applying for a North Dakota drivers license, you may be wondering why do you even have to follow these rules and why do adults have it easier? This is a reasonable question, however we want you to understand that even though these graduated license rules may seem as an inconvenience now, there were designed for your own protection.
In your driving career, there are two periods when the risks of you having a traffic accident are the highest. The first period starts when you receive your drivers license and start driving alone, and it usually lasts from six months to a year. The second period starts when you gain some driving skills and become overconfident. Overconfidence usually leads to lack of attention and may result in a collision or a near-collision situation.
While there is not much that can be done about the second period, apart from education, there is a lot we can do for drivers who are just entering the world of driving. Multiple studies on the subject were conducted and, based on these studies, a set of measures were devised. All of these measures aim at the same goal - eliminating as many risk factors as possible and helping you get through your first year of driving without being involved in a traffic accident.
You may be asking yourself why does the North Dakota graduated drivers license law applies only to teenagers and not every first time drivers license applicant, if it's all about help you gain some driving experience. The reason behind this is the fact that while older drivers usually recognize the shortcomings of their driving skill, youngsters tend to overestimate their driving ability and fail to take safety precautions, such as wearing a seat belt. In addition to that, youngsters tend to carry a large number of passengers, so in case of a traffic accident, the number of victims is usually significantly higher. All these reasons led to the fact that the graduated license restrictions were forced only upon drivers under the age of 18. Still, in our opinion, the North Dakota graduated driver's license rules are very outdated and should be reviewed and updated some time soon.
Graduated License Stages
According to the graduated drivers license law, the licensing procedure is divided into a number of separate steps of phases. Each step is designed to teach you a certain set of skills and you cannot graduate to the next level until you fulfill the requirements of this stage. At the moment, the North Dakota graduated driver's license program consists of the following stages:
- Learners permit
- Restricted drivers license
- Operator's license
You have to remember that if you are at least 18 years of age, the graduated driver's license rules do not apply to you and you don't have to follow them. However, no matter how old you are, you still need to go through the same testing procedures and complete both the North Dakota permit test and a drivers license exam. The permit test covers the state driving rules and regulations and you may test yourself with a free North Dakota permit practice test.
North Dakota Learners Permit
The minimum age for receiving a North Dakota drivers permit is 14 years. Once you pass the required tests and receive a permit, you can start practicing driving. However, since your permit does not grant you full driving privileges, you have to observe the following North Dakota permit restrictions:
- No driving alone. When you are driving, you must have another licensed driver at least 18 years of age with a valid drivers license and not less than three years of driving experience accompany you. The supervising driver must be seated in the front seat next to you and should be prepared to take control of the vehicle any time.
- Passenger restrictions. All passengers must be seated in a rear seat. If no rear seat is available, a passenger can occupy the front seat, but cannot be seated between the permittee and the supervising driver.
- Seat belts. Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seat belt.
- No cell phones. Cell phone usage while driving is not allowed.
These restrictions must be observed for at least six months before you can take a North Dakota drivers test and upgrade to a restricted drivers license. If you will be taking the drivers test, the graduated license rules require you to take a state-approved North Dakota drivers education course that must contain at least 30 hours of classroom time and 6 hours of behind the wheel instructions with a professional driving instructor.
Restricted Drivers License
If you receive a North Dakota drivers license before the age of 16 years, your license will be marked as restricted and certain rules will need to be followed. You can read more about the restricted driver license stage in the North Dakota drivers handbook, but here are the main limitations:
- You can only drive a vehicle that belongs to your parents or legal guardians.
- You cannot carry more passengers than the vehicle manufacturer's suggested capacity. In simple words, the number of passengers you can carry is limited by the number of seat belts in the vehicle.
In addition to the restrictions above, the graduated license law also states that you cannot accumulate more than 6 points on your driving record while operating under the restricted license. If you receive more points, your driving privilege is withdrawn, your driver's license is cancelled and you have to start the application process from the very beginning. Completion of a drivers education program in this case is mandatory.
Once you fulfill all requirements of the North Dakota graduated license program and are at least 16 years of age, you become eligible for an operator's license, which does not have any restrictions and grants you unlimited driving privileges, provided you follow the state driving law.