In North Carolina if you are 18 years of age or older you may apply for an original North Carolina driver's license or a learner's permit. If you are under 18 you will need to go through the graduated licensing process.
If you are at least 15 years of age and have completed an approved driver education course, you may apply for a Level One Limited Learner Permit to operate vehicles requiring a Class C license.
Level one is the Limited Learner's Permit involves parents, guardians and/or other responsible drivers in the training of young drivers. The restrictions applied to the learner's permit include:
- Must be 15 or older, complete driver's education and obtain limited learner's permit.
- For at least 12 months, the Level 1 driver must be supervised by parent, guardian or other approved licensed driver who has been licensed at least five years.
- All people in vehicle driven by Level 1 driver must wear a seat belt, and only the supervisor can ride in the front seat.
- For the first six months, a Level 1 driver may only drive from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. with his or her supervisor.
- For the second six months, a Level 1 driver may drive at any time with his or her supervisor.
- Before graduating to Level Two, you must keep Level One for at least 12 months and have no convictions of motor vehicle moving violations or seat belt infraction in the preceding 6 months.
Level Two of the NC graduated licensing system is the Limited Provisional License which has restrictions in place to protect young drivers during the night time hours when they are most at risk. The restrictions under Level 2 are:
- Drivers must be at least 16 years old, but less than 18.
- All passengers must be restrained by seat belt or child safety seat.
- Supervising driver must be seated beside the driver.
- You may drive without supervision from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. and at any time when driving directly to or from work or any volunteer fire, rescue or EMS (emergency medical service), if you are a member.
- As of 2002, the number of passengers allowed in a motor vehicle under the age of 21 is restricted to ONE when the driver of the vehicle is the holder of the Level 2. The exception is if the passengers under 21 are members of the driver's immediate family or members of the same household as the driver then there is no under 21 limit.
- If the supervising driver is in the car with the level 2 driver, this last restriction does not apply.
Before graduating to Level Three, you must keep the Level Two license for at least 6 months and have no convictions of moving violations or seat belt infractions within the preceding six months.
Level Three is a Full Provisional License and rewards violation-free driving with unsupervised driving allowed at any time though the Level 3 driver is still subject to all other conditions of provisional license. This full provisional license is kept until the age of 18.