Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in North Carolina

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The state of North Carolina offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the past, or are current active military members.

Driver’s license veteran designation

Due to a law passed by the General Assembly, any veteran who has been honorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces who can supply their discharge papers—Form DD-214 –may apply at the DMV. This new designation provides military veterans with assistance in gaining military discounts from a variety of service providers and retailers without the need to keep a military discharge form on hand. This designation enables veterans to show their photo identification and their Veteran status at the same time. Veteran status designation can be added to a photo ID at their local driver license office at no charge during their next renewal period, or pay the usual fee for replacing a driver license.

Military honor plates

North Carolina offers a wide variety of distinguished military honor license plates commemorating the different military branches, service medals, and specific campaigns. Eligibility for each of these plates requires certain criteria be met, including proof of current or past military service (honorable discharge), proof of having participated in a specific campaign, or discharge papers or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs documentation of the award received.

Available military plate designs:

  • 82nd Airborne
  • Afghanistan Veteran
  • Air Force Reserve
  • Air Medal
  • Army Reserve
  • Bronze Star
  • Bronze Star Combat (Valor)
  • Coast Guard Reserve
  • Congressional Medal of Honor
  • Desert Storm Veteran
  • Disabled Veteran
  • Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Distinguished Service Cross
  • Ex-Prisoner of War
  • Gold Star Lapel Button
  • Iraq Veteran
  • Korean Conflict
  • Legion of Merit
  • Legion of Valor
  • Marine Corps Reserve
  • Naval Reserve
  • Partially Disabled Veteran
  • Pearl Harbor Survivor
  • Purple Heart (Auto)
  • Purple Heart (M-C)
  • Retired Air Force
  • Retired Army
  • Retired Coast Guard
  • Retired Marine
  • Retired National Guard
  • Retired Navy
  • Semper Fidelis (Marine Veteran)
  • Silver Star
  • Silver Star Disabled Veteran
  • U.S. Air Force Veteran
  • U.S. Army Veteran
  • U.S. Coast Guard Veteran
  • U.S. Navy Submarine Veteran
  • U.S. Navy Veteran
  • Veteran of Foreign Wars
  • Vietnam Era
  • War on Terror
  • World War II Veteran

Plates carry a variety of different charges, although most are nominal. Personalization is an extra $30 on top of the standard registration plus special plate fees. Many of the designated plates require proof of honorable discharge or activity; requirements vary depending on the specific plate. Full details on available plates and pricing available here.

Military skills test waiver

As of 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration instituted the Commercial Learner’s Permit rule. This rule contains a provision authorizing SDLAs (State Driver Licensing Agencies) to allow U.S. Military drivers to leverage their service-related truck driving experience in lieu of the skills test to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver License). In order to be eligible to skip this portion of the testing process the driver must apply within a year of leaving a military position that required them to operate a commercial vehicle. The driver must have had two years such experience in order to qualify for the waiver program.

Applicants must certify to an SDLA:

  • His or her experience as a safe driver

  • That he or she hasn’t held more than one license (excepting a U.S. Military driver license) in the previous two years

  • That he or she has not had their driver license (issued by their base state) suspended, revoked, or cancelled

  • Has not refused to take a chemical test when charged with an implied consent offense

  • That he or she has not been convicted of a motor vehicle violation that would disqualify them from obtaining a CDL

There is a range of offenses that can disqualify military personnel from participating in the skills waiver program; these include things like DUI, hit-and-run accidents, or using a CMV to commit a felony.

The Military Skills Test Waiver program in North Carolina and almost every other state is the result of collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators in order to make the process of getting a CDL easier for veterans. Military personnel with applicable experience can download and print the waiver here. Applicants must still complete the written CDL test.

Active or veteran military personnel who wish to find out more about veteran and military driver laws and benefits in North Carolina can consult the state’s motor vehicle division website here.

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