How to Get a North Carolina Driver's Permit

The graduated driver’s license program in the state of North Carolina requires all new drivers under 18 years old to begin driving under supervision, in order to practice safe driving before getting their full driver’s license. In order to receive the initial limited learner’s permit, you must follow certain steps. Here is a simple guide to getting a North Carolina driver’s instruction permit:

Limited learner’s permit

North Carolina has a multi-level driver’s program that starts with a limited learner’s permit. This permit is for teens that are between the ages of 15 and 18 years old, and who have completed a driver’s education course. This course must have consisted of at least 30 hours in a classroom, and another six hours behind the wheel of a vehicle.

The limited learner’s permit allows drivers to operate a vehicle only when accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian, or a supervising adult that has been granted parental consent. This person have to hold a driver’s license for at least five years. Learner’s permits allow drivers to operate a vehicle only between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. for the first six months.

While driving during the instructional period, parents or legal guardians must log a required 60 hours of driving practice in order to apply for their full driver’s license. At least ten of those hours must be at night. These hours must be tracked on a Form DL-4A.

How to apply

In order to apply for a North Carolina learner’s permit, a driver must pass a written exam, a road signs test, a vision screening, pay a $20 fee, and provide the following documents to the DMV:

  • A driver’s education course certification of completion

  • Two documents that act as proof of identity and age, such as a birth certificate or a school transcript

  • Proof of a Social Security number, such as a Social Security Card or a W-2 form

  • An application that has been signed by a parent or guardian

Passing the exam

The first exam that a driver must pass is the written test, which covers state-specific traffic laws and safe driving rules. There is an additional road signs test, which covers traffic signs that must be identified by only their shape and color. The North Carolina Driver’s Handbook has all the information necessary to pass the exam. In order to get extra practice and build confidence before taking the exam, the state also provides an online practice exam that can be taken as many times as necessary to learn the information.

After holding a learner’s permit for at least one full year, and having logged the required practice hours, a student driver may apply for the limited provisional driver’s license, which allows them to drive without supervision. Earning this license requires a practical driving test as well as a written exam, road sign test, and vision screening.


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