Drivers Ed in North Carolina
Completion of a North Carolina Drivers Ed course is suggested and often required prior to obtaining your learner's permit, and ultimately receiving your Driver's License. Although not approved for the state of North Carolina, I Drive Safely is a good course to prepare yourself for your state's licensing exam.
If you're 18 or older, you don't have to take a driver education course to obtain your driver's license. Head on over to Applying for a New License to learn more about your application process.
Teenage drivers have higher accident and motor vehicle death rates than those of older and more experienced drivers. Driver education and safety training is an important part of staying safe while you learn to drive and gain confidence and better judgment.
More than half of the states in the U.S., including North Carolina, have a graduated driver licensing system. This enables you to improve your skills while supervised by experienced drivers. Then you may gain enough practice so that you are experienced enough to drive on your own.
In North Carolina, the licensing process for drivers under age 18 is divided into three steps for the safety of everyone on the road: learner's permit (Level One), a provisional license (Level Two), and an unrestricted license (Level Three).
In North Carolina, you may begin a driver education course as early as age 14 and a half. You must complete a DMV-approved driver training course, which is state funded.
Driving schools contract with many high schools in the state to provide this instruction. If your high school does not offer driver education, you can do an Internet search for local driving schools to see if they offer the state-approved teen driving course.
Upon completing the course, you will receive a Driver Education Certificate from the driving school instructor. Keep this certificate with your records.
You will not be permitted to begin behind-the-wheel training until you have completed the 30-hour education course and passed a vision test.
Even with practical driving training, most students will not be proficient enough to pass the driving test and be licensed at this point. You will need more practice with a driving supervisor, such as a parent or guardian.
You can apply for a learner's permit once you've passed the education course and turned 15 years old. At this point, you'll take the written and driving tests.
Learner's Permit Application
Bring the following documents with you to your local driver license office:
- Driver Education Certificate, obtained upon completion of your 30-hour course.
- Driving Eligibility Certificate, obtained at your high school. This document certifies that you are enrolled in school and are passing the majority of your classes. (It is good for 30 days, so do not ask for it until you're ready to apply for your permit.)
- Birth certificate and Social Security card.
- Parent or guardian to sign application.
- $15 permit fee.
Learner's Permit Restrictions
The learner's permit comes with a batch of limitations to help you progress gradually. For the first six months after getting it, you will only be allowed to drive with a licensed adult between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. every day. You also must wear your seatbelt at all times in the vehicle.
After six months of the limited hours, you will be able to drive during any hours of the day or night with your licensed adult supervisor.
Once you've had your learner's permit for 12 months without any traffic violations or accidents, you are ready to move on to Level Two, your provisional license. You have to be at least 16 years old and younger than 18.
Level Two Restrictions
This provisional license restricts the hours you can drive without supervision. After passing your road test and getting licensed, if you are 16 or 17, generally you may not drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless supervised. You may only drive during those restricted hours if you are going to or from work.
The provisional license also carries a restriction of how many teenage passengers you may carry while you're driving. You can only have one other teenager in the car with you while you have your provisional license, unless you are with your licensed adult supervisor and/or the other passengers are immediate family members.
Level Three: Congratulations!
After six months with the provisional license and a clean driving record, you can graduate to an unrestricted license. This license allows you to drive at any hour of day or night without a licensed adult supervisor.
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