What You Need to Know About the North Carolina Graduated Driver’s License Program

What You Need to Know About the North Carolina Graduated Driver’s License Program

Most states have adopted at least some parts of the Graduated Driver’s License Program (GDL) to help reduce the number of new drivers involved in fatal crashes. The program is working, as the number of drivers under the age of 21 who were in fatal accidents fell from 289 in 2005 to 162 in 2014.

The program starts when you turn 15, and you pass a vision test and written knowledge test for the Learner’s Permit, which you will have for 12 months or longer. During this period, you will need to log at least 60 hours of driving practice with 10 of the hours driven during the night.

You must always drive with a supervisor who –

  • Has been licensed for at least five years
  • Is your parent or legal guardian, or an adult approved by your parent or guardian
  • Must be seated next to you in the front passenger seat

For the first six months of having the permit, you can only drive between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Be aware; you are prohibited from using a cell phone or other wireless communication device anytime you are operating a vehicle in the state.

After having the permit for a year and upon reaching 16 years of age, you can apply for your provisional license that will allow you to drive unsupervised during daylight hours. You will have to show proof of insurance and pass a road skills test. Any moving violations, or seat belt offenses, or mobile phone infractions received in the six months prior to application can disqualify you.

With the provisional license, you may –

  • Only drive unsupervised during the hours of 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Drive unsupervised when traveling directly to work or if you volunteer with the fire department or emergency medical service
  • Not have more than one passenger under the age of 21 in your vehicle without your driving supervisor
  • Not use your cell phone or wireless communication device while driving

At age 16 and six months, you are eligible for a full provisional license. While most restrictions are lifted with this license, it will be revoked if you are under the age of 18 and your school disqualifies your eligibility for a Driving Eligibility Certificate.

If you are suspended for 10 or more days or are transferred to an alternative learning school as part of a disciplinary action for more than ten days in a row, your license will be suspended.

All new drivers under the age of 18 are required to complete driver education before you can get an unrestricted license.

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