In the state of North Carolina, all teen drivers are required to complete the Graduated Driver’s License Program (GDL), a multi-stage process that allows you to gain crucial driving skills while remaining in a low-risk environment. GDL programs have been shown to reduce the number of traffic accidents caused by young drivers who lack experience.
The North Carolina GDL process consists of three distinct stages:
- Limited Learner’s Permit
- Limited Provisional License
- Full License
This page will teach you how to pass the North Carolina permit test and go on to receive your unrestricted driver’s license.
Limited Learner’s Permit
If you want to get your permit as a teenager in North Carolina, you will first need to complete a state-approved driver’s education program. You can take this course when you are 14 and a half years old and apply for your Limited Learner’s Permit when you are 15 years old. To do so, you must pass a written permit test that will check your knowledge of the rules of the road. You will also be given a test on road signs and a vision test to make sure you can see well enough to drive safely.
Be Sure to Study Hard
If you want to pass the permit test on your first try, devote plenty of time to study. We offer a free copy of the North Carolina Driver’s Handbook for you to use. Don’t skip any sections when reading. You never know what questions will be on the test.
Take Advantage of Practice Exams
Reading is a great way to study, but taking practice exams is an even better way to raise your odds of doing well. Our North Carolina practice permit test includes much of the same subject matter as the actual test and is an excellent resource for learning.
Visit the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Office and Take Your Tests
When you feel ready to take the test, visit the DMV and bring along:
- The certificate of completion from your driver’s education course.
- A Driving Eligibility Certificate from your high school.
- Your Social Security card and a certified copy of your birth certificate.
- Proof of residency (if your current address isn’t listed on your eligibility certificate).
- Your parent or guardian.
- $15 for fees.
At this point, you will take your written permit test, your sign tests and your vision exam. When you pass all three, you will be given your Limited Learner’s Permit.
Your permit allows you to practice driving between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. as long as you have a parent, grandparent or guardian in the seat next to you. The person supervising you must have held his or her license for at least five years.
When you are 16 years old, you have held your permit for at least a year, and you haven’t had any traffic violations in the past six months, you can apply for your Limited Provisional License. To do so, you will need to pass a behind-the-wheel driving test, which will check how comfortable you are at the wheel and how well you observe traffic law. You don’t need an appointment, but you do need to show up before 4 p.m. because the DMV does not do driving tests after this time.
When you feel ready, visit the DMV offices to take your test, bringing along:
- Your parent or guardian.
- $15 in fees.
- Your permit.
- A registered and insured vehicle to use for the test.
- Your identification and residency documents.
The road test should take around 15 minutes. Try to relax and do your best. As long as you spent the past year practicing safe driving, you should be able to pass without any problems. When you do, you will be given your Limited Provisional License, which comes with a few restrictions:
- You may not drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for travel to and from work. Exceptions are also made for volunteer fire and EMS rescue workers.
- Unless accompanied by a supervising driver, you may not carry more than one passenger under the age of 21 unless those passengers are family members that live in the same household.
- You and all your passengers must wear safety belts while the vehicle is moving.
When you have held your Limited Provisional License for at least six months without any traffic convictions or safety-belt violations, the restrictions will be removed from your license.
Congratulations! You can now enjoy unrestricted driving privileges.
If you would like to skip the GDL process in North Carolina, you can simply wait until age 18 to apply for your Full License.