Requirements By Age
Take Driver's Education
Apply for a Provisional Learner Permit
Apply for a Provisional Level II License
Apply for a Full License
15 Years Old to Younger Than 18 Years Old
18 Years Old and Older
While you must be at least 15 years old to apply for a learner's permit, you can begin the required driving education process at 14 1/2.
Be aware that until you turn 18 years old, your licenses are only classified as limited provisional, meaning they carry restrictions not associated with full licenses.
If you're at least 18 years old, you can attempt to obtain your license without first taking a driver education class, although these courses offer helpful information for drivers of all ages. You will, however, be required to pass a written test and obtain a permit.
Graduated Driver’s License Program
While it may seem overly protective to some young drivers, this program allows teenage drivers to learn to drive while being supervised, ask plenty of questions, and get lots of practice. As you gain more experience and maturity, you also gain better skills and more privileges.
Driving carries serious risks, and drivers younger than 18 years old have a much higher crash rate than other age groups. The provisional license system helps keep the roads safer for all drivers.
If you're younger than 18 years old, here are the basic steps to follow to obtain your full license:
- Complete an approved driver education class, which includes driver training.
- Obtain a learner's permit.
- Practice driving for at least 12 months.
- Obtain a limited provisional license.
- Keep your limited provisional license for at least 6 months.
- Obtain your regular license once you turn 18 years old.
Take Drivers Education
You may take the state-approved driver education class through your high school or a local driving school.
New to the State
All drivers younger than 18 years old need to pass a driver education course. Even if you have a license from your former state, if you didn't take a driver education class as part of the licensing process, you must complete one now in order to get your North Carolina license. But, you can be issued a temporary permit which allows you to drive while you're fulfilling your education requirement.
If you've taken a driver education class in your former state, you generally won't have to take such a class in North Carolina. Check with your local Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to inquire about your situation.
Drivers Preparation Course
Obtain a Limited Learner Permit
If you're younger than 18 years old, you must successfully complete a state-approved driver education class in order to begin the graduated licensing process. You may take the class as soon as you reach 14 1/2. Once you turn 15 years old and have passed the class, you may apply for your permit by:
- Locating your Driver Education Certificate (obtained upon completion of your 30-hour course).
- Locating your Driving Eligibility Certificate (obtained from your high school).
- Gathering your Social Security card and a certified copy of your birth certificate.
- Gathering acceptable proof of residency (only required if your address isn't listed on your school certificate).
- Taking the required material to a DMV office, along with your parent or guardian who must to sign the permit application.
- Passing the written, signs, and vision tests.
- Paying the $15 fee.
Limited Learner Permit Driving Restrictions
With this permit, you have rigid driving privileges. You may only drive between 5 a.m.-9 p.m. for the first 6 months. You may only drive with the appropriate supervision. This means someone who's been licensed for at least 5 years, and is either your parent, grandparent, or guardian. (Or a responsible adult who's been approved by your parent or guardian.) Only you and your driving supervisor may sit in the front seat.
Additionally, while driving you can't use a cell phone, unless it's for an emergency situation.
Practice Behind the Wheel
You're expected to develop your driving skills and experience with this permit. You must hold your permit for a minimum of 12 months before applying for your Level Two Limited Provisional License. After the first 6 months, you may drive at any time with your driving supervisor.
Be aware that in order to apply for your limited provisional license, you can't have any moving violation convictions or seat belt or cell phone violation convictions within the past 6 months.
Apply for a Limited Provisional License
To attempt to obtain your provisional license, you must:
- Be at least 16 years old.
- Have held your permit for at least 12 months.
- Have no moving violations, cell phone violations, or seat belt violations within the past six months.
If you've satisfied those requirements, you may proceed by doing the following.
1) Going to the DMV
No appointment is necessary to apply for your provisional license or to take the road test, although some offices do accept appointments. All driving tests must begin before 4 p.m.
Be sure to bring your permit, the required documentation (such as proof of insurance), and your parent or guardian to the DMV office.
2) Taking the Road Test
You'll need to pass the road skills test in order to obtain your license. Those who fail the test will have to wait, usually about 5 business days, before trying again.
3) Receiving Your Limited Provisional License
While at the DMV office, you'll pay the $15 license fee and pick up your license.
Limited Provisional License Restrictions
This license gives you a bit more driving freedom than with your learner's permit. You may drive unsupervised between 5 a.m. - 9 p.m. Additionally, you may drive outside of those hours if it's for work or volunteer emergency services. Your driving supervisor must be sitting next to you when you're driving otherwise.
When driving without your supervisor, you may only have 1 passenger who is younger than 21 years old, with some exceptions.
Again, you still can't use a cell phone while driving, except in emergency situations.
Apply for a Full Provisional License
Once you've had your limited provisional license for at least 6 months, and you haven't had any moving, seat belt, or cell phone violation convictions within the past 6 months, you may apply for a full provisional license at a DMV office. This license gives you umlimited, unrestricted driving privileges.
You don't need to make an appointment to apply. Just bring your proof of insurance, your limited provisional license, and payment for the full provisional license fee ($4 per year for the length of the license).