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NC License Process

Classroom instruction. 

All public high schools in North Carolina must offer driver’s education for students  (including students who are home-schooled or are enrolled in private schools). G.S. 115C-215(a). This instruction, which consists of 30 classroom hours, must be provided outside of regular school hours. See 16 NCAC 06E .0301(a)(10). High schools driver’s education classes are held after school, during winter break, and during the summer. Students may not enroll in the classroom portion of driver’s education until they are older than 14 years and six months. After completing the classroom portion of the course, a student may receive instruction in actual driving.


Behind-the-wheel instruction. 

Students must complete 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.  G.S. 115C-215(b)(3). Each driving session conducted through the school must involve at least two but not more than four students.  See 16 NCAC 06E .0301(a)(6).

The cost. Schools may charge up to $65 to each student-participant to offset the cost of providing driver education, and must provide a process for reducing or waiving the fee for students who are unable to pay. G.S. 115C-216(g). The instruction may be provided by driver education instructors who are school employees or through public or private entitles that have contracted with the local board of education to provide driver education. G.S. 115C-215(d), (e).


Avoiding the waiting list.

Due to the demand for driver instruction, students have to wait a few months after submitting the RIP before completing the driving portion. Someone who wants to avoid the line may complete a course of driver instruction at a licensed commercial driver training school in lieu of school-based instruction. G.S. 20-11(b)(1).


Driving eligibility certificate. 

Once the student has completed the classroom instruction and the six hours of driving, they must obtain a driving eligibility certificate from his school. The school principal, or her designee, must verify that the applicant meets one of the following requirements:

  1. The person is currently enrolled in school and is making progress toward obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent;

  2. A substantial hardship would be placed on the person or the person’s family if the person does not receive a certificate; or

  3. The person cannot make progress toward obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent.

The principal or designee must also verify that my son was not subject to certain disqualifying disciplinary actions by the school. G.S. 20-11(n)(1a). A student who has been expelled, suspended for more than 10 consecutive days or assigned to an alternative educational setting for more than 10 consecutive days for possessing alcohol, drugs, or weapons on school property or assaulting school personnel is ineligible for a certificate for a period of time following the disciplinary action. G.S. 20-11(n1) (captioned “Lose Control; Lose License”).

A parent or guardian who completes the driving eligibility certificate form gives the school permission to notify DMV if the student ceases to be enrolled in the school, fails to make the required progress toward a high school diploma, or is subject to a disqualifying disciplinary action.

Before heading to DMV. 

The applicant should study the driver handbook he or she received in class.  To obtain a learner’s permit, a person must pass a written test administered by DMV.


What to take to DMV. 

The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s website has this helpful guide to the documentation requirements.


Driving with a limited learner’s permit. 

When the student obtains a limited learner’s permit, they will be authorized to drive with a supervising driver seated beside him in the front seat of the vehicle. G.S. 20-11(c)(2). A supervising driver is a parent, grandparent, or guardian of the permit holder or a responsible person approved by the parent or guardian or DMV. G.S. 20-11(k). A supervising driver must be a licensed driver who has been licensed for at least five years.  At least one supervising driver must sign the application for the permit.


The supervising driver must also be sober. 

G.S. 20-12.1 makes it unlawful to serve as a supervising driver while under the influence of an impairing substance or after having consumed sufficient alcohol to have at any relevant time after the driving an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.


Limited hours for six months. 

For the first six months after the permit is issued, the permit holder may drive only between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.  After the first six months, the permit holder may drive at any time.


No mobile phone use. 

The permit holder may not use a mobile telephone or other technology associated with a mobile telephone while driving. 



The holder of a limited learner’s permit who violates the restriction concerning time of driving or the presence of a supervising driver commits the offense of operating a motor vehicle without a license, a Class 3 misdemeanor. G.S. 20-11(l).


Driving logs. 

Finally, parents will need to document the road time. To obtain a license after a student turns 16, they will need to submit to DMV a driving log detailing at least 60 hours of driving with a limited learner’s permit. G.S. 20-11(d)(5).  At least 10 of those hours must be at night, and no more than 10 hours of driving per week may be counted toward the 60-hour requirement.

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