- Location: North Carolina
Drivers Ed in North CarolinaPage Overview
If you're 18 years old 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.
Most 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 18 years old is divided into three steps for the safety of everyone on the road: learner's permit (Level 1), a provisional license (Level 2), and an unrestricted license (Level 3).
In North Carolina, you may begin a driver education course as early as 14 1/2 years old. 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 education course of 30 hours 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 hours of drivers ed.
- 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.
- 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 6 months after getting it, you will only be allowed to drive between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. while supervised by a licensed adult. You also must wear your seatbelt at all times in the vehicle.
After having the limited provisional license for 6 months, 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 years old.
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 years old or less than 18 years old, generally you may not drive between 5 a.m. and 9 p.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 1 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 6 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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