Obtaining a North Carolina Driver's License
The Highway Patrol does NOT issue drivers licenses. Drivers licenses must be obtained from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the Department of Transportation.
The location of the nearest DMV office can be obtained by consulting the telephone directory under State Government or by contacting DMV via e-mail. Proof of insurance is required in order to obtain a drivers license.
Drivers licenses are issued for the type of vehicle to be driven.
A regular drivers license is issued for operating a non-commercial motor vehicle.
A commercial drivers license (CDL) is issued to operate commercial motor vehicles.
There are six drivers licenses. They are:
- Regular Class A
- Regular Class B
- Regular Class C
- CDL, Class A
- CDL, Class B
- CDL, Class C
To operate a passenger vehicle, the driver needs a Regular Class C license. To determine which drivers license is required for other types of vehicles, contact your local drivers license office.
Age for Drivers Licenses
Regular Class C -- 16 years of age
Regular Class A or B -- 18 years of age
CDL, Class A, B, or C -- 21 years of age (except for school bus drivers who need only be 18)
Out-of-State or Out-of-Country Drivers
Residents from other states or countries may operate vehicles in North Carolina using their drivers licenses. The same restrictions or limitations as imposed by their home states or countries apply in North Carolina.
A learners permit from another state is valid in North Carolina, but only if the driver is age sixteen or older.
The International Drivers License is NOT recognized in North Carolina and cannot be used as a drivers license.
A person who moves to North Carolina and establishes residency has sixty (60) days to obtain a North Carolina drivers license.
Young Drivers and the Graduated Drivers License
The law provides for three levels of licensing of a person under age 18. Each level has its own restrictions on operation.
Limited Learner's Permit
A person at least age 15 and under age 18 may obtain a limited learner's permit if the person has passed a driver education course and a written test administered by DMV.
Level 1 restrictions apply to persons with limited learner's permits. The driver: Must have the permit in his or her possession; Must have a supervising driver in front seat (parent, guardian or person who signs application for permit); Must have no other person in front seat; Must for first six months, drive only between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.-- (after first six months, may drive anytime with supervision): Must have all persons in a vehicle use seatbelts or child safety restraints.
Limited Provisional License
A person who is at least 16 years old but less than 18 may obtain a limited provisional license:
- if the person has held a limited learner's permit for at least 12 months,
- has not been convicted of a motor vehicle moving violation or seatbelt infraction during the preceding six months, and
- has passed a road test administered by DMV.
Level 2 restrictions apply to the driver holding a limited provisional license. These restrictions are that the driver:
- Must have the license in the driver's possession.
- May drive without a supervising driver when driving to and from work.
- May drive without a supervising driver when driving to and from an activity of a volunteer fire department, rescue squad, or emergency medical services, if the driver is a member.
- May drive without a supervising driver for any other purpose from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. only.
- Must drive at any other time with a supervising driver where the supervising driver is seated beside the license holder but need not be the only other front seat passenger.
- Must have all persons in vehicle use seatbelts or child safety restraints.
- There may be no more than one passenger under 21 years of age in the vehicle. This limit does not apply to the license holder's immediate family.
Full Provisional License
A person who is at least 16 but less than 18 may obtain a full provisional license if the person:
has held a limited provisional license for at least six months and has not been convicted of a motor vehicle moving violation or seatbelt infraction during the preceding six months.
Level 3 restrictions apply to the full provisional licensee. The driver is granted full driving privileges at Level 3.