In North Carolina, to obtain a limited learner's permit one must be 15 years of age or older and complete a driver's education class. North Carolina is like most states in that it has a graduated driver's licensing (GDL) system. The Limited Learner's Permit is level one of this GDL.
For at least 12 months a Level 1 driver must be supervised by parent, guardian or other approved licensed driver who has been licensed at least five years. Other provisions of having a limited learner's permit include:
- Supervising Driver -- A supervising driver shall be a parent, grandparent, or guardian of the permit holder or license holder or a responsible adult approved by the parent or guardian. A supervising driver shall be a licensed driver who has been licensed to drive for 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 2 is a Limited Provisional License and it protects young drivers during the night time hours when they are most at risk. With this license:
- 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.
Passengers under 21 in are allowed with a Level 2 driver in two scenarios:
- 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.
- If all passengers under the age of 21 are members of the driver's immediate family or members of the same household as the driver there is no under 21 limit.
If the supervising driver is in the car, this restriction does not apply. Before graduating to Level Three, you must keep this license for at least 6 months and have no convictions of moving violations or seat belt infractions within the preceding six months.
A Full Provisional License rewards violation-free driving and is level 3 in the GDL. With this license unsupervised driving is allowed at any time but the driver is subject to all other conditions of provisional license.
If you are 18 years of age or older you may apply for a full North Carolina driver's license or a learner's permit. To receive a driver's license in North Carolina, you must bring at least two acceptable forms of ID; one must reflect your full name and date of birth to the Driver License Examiner. You must also complete and pass the written, sign, and vision tests.
To find out more about how to apply for a NC driver's license, contact the NCDOT Division of Motor Vehicles.