Driver's License Examination
In order to demonstrate an applicant’s physical and mental ability to operate a vehicle, an applicant must pass tests issued by the DMV, which may include road tests, vision tests (20/40 visual acuity required), and oral or written tests.
The DMV may not require a person who is at least 60 years of age to parallel park a motor vehicle as part of a road test.
An applicant using bioptic telescopic lenses is eligible for a regular Class C driver’s license if they meet specific visual acuity requirements and successfully complete a road test. The license or permit holder will be restricted to driving between one-half hour after sunrise and ending one-half hour before sunset.
Graduated Driver's Licensing
North Carolina has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.
At age 15, individuals who pass driver education and a written test, and have a driving eligibility certificate are eligible for a learner’s permit.
- Permit holders may not drive unsupervised.
- For the first 6 months, the permit holder may only drive between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.
- Every person riding in the vehicle operated by a permit holder must either be wearing a properly fastened safety belt or be safely restrained in a child passenger restraint system.
- Permit holders must complete 60 hours of practice driving (including 10 hours at night).
At age 16, after passing a road test, earning a driving eligibility certificate, and holding a learner’s permit for at least 12 months, individuals may obtain a limited provisional license.
- Provisional license holders may drive unsupervised between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. or at any time when driving directly to or from work or as a member of a volunteer fire, rescue or emergency medical service. At all other times, drivers must be supervised by a parent, guardian, grandparent, or a person approved by any of them, who has been licensed for at least 5 years.
- Provisional license holders are restricted from transporting more than 1 passenger under 21 unless accompanied by a supervising driver (family exempted). However, individuals transporting family members under 21 may not transport any other passengers under 21 unless supervised.
- Every person riding in the vehicle operated by a provisional license holder must either be wearing a properly fastened safety belt or be safely restrained in a child passenger restraint system.
At 16 years and 6 months, drivers are eligible for an unrestricted license if they have: (1) held a provisional license for at least 6 months; (2) not been convicted of a moving violation or seat belt infraction during the preceding 6 months; (3) completed 12 hours of practice driving (including 6 at night); and (4) a driver eligibility certificate.
Driver education is required for all license applicants under age 18.
Driver's License Issuance/Application
A new resident of North Carolina who has a valid driver’s license from another jurisdiction must obtain a North Carolina driver’s license within 60 days of becoming a resident.
To obtain a driver’s license, an applicant must complete an application, present at least 2 forms of identification, be a North Carolina resident, and demonstrate his physical and mental ability to drive a motor vehicle safely.
A driver’s license application must contain the applicant’s full name; mailing address and residence address; a physical description including sex, height, eye color, and hair color; date of birth; social security number; and the applicant’s signature.
The DMV may not issue a license to a person until that person has furnished proof of financial responsibility.
A driver’s license issued by the DMV must be tamperproof and must also contain a color photograph of the license holder and an identifying number for the license holder that is not the holder’s social security number.
A person whose address or name changes shall notify the DMV within 60 days after the change occurs.
An application for a commercial license must include the same information as a regular license, as well as consent to release the applicant’s driving record.
A first driver’s license may be issued for period shorter than 4 years if the DMV determines that a license of shorter duration should be issued because the applicant holds a visa of limited duration issued by the United States Department of State.
The expiration dates on non-citizen’s driver’s licenses and ID cards are linked to the expiration date of the person’s visa.
Driver’s License Renewal
Applicants for renewal prior to the license expiring may not be required to take a written or road test unless the applicant has been convicted of a traffic violation since the person’s license was last issued or the applicant suffers from a mental or physical condition that impairs the person’s ability to drive a vehicle.
A current or expired license is required at renewal. In the absence of a license, an applicant for renewal must present two documents of identification.
A driver’s license issued to a person at least 18 years old but less than 66 years old expires eight years after the date it was issued. A driver’s license issued to a person at least 66 years old expires five years after the date it was issued. Licenses may be renewed remotely every other renewal. Vision testing is required at in-person renewals.
The first license the DMV issues to a person expires on the person’s 4th or subsequent birthday that occurs after the license is issued and on which the individual’s age is evenly divisible by 5.
Before a license expires, the DMV mails a reminder card explaining the number of years it will be valid. The reminder card is not required in order to renew. If DMV does not have your social security number on file, you must present your social security card at the time of issuance. If you are not eligible for a social security card, you must present documentation issued by the US Government indicating legal presence. If you do not have your current or expired license at renewal, you will be required to show the examiner two required documents of identification.
Resident on active duty or their dependents may renew their driver’s license by mail no more than two times during a license holder’s lifetime. A driver’s license with a military designation on it issued to a person on active duty may be renewed up to 1 year prior to its expiration upon presentation of military or Department of Defense credentials.
Types of Driver's Licenses
- Class A: Authorizes the holder to drive any class A motor vehicle exempt from the commercial license requirements, or a class A motor vehicle that has a combined Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of less than 26,001 lbs. and includes as part of the combination a towed unit that has a GVWR of at least 10,001 lbs.
- Class B: Authorizes the holder to drive any class B motor vehicle exempt from the commercial license requirements.
- Class C: Authorizes the holder to drive any class C motor vehicle that is not a commercial motor vehicle; or a class A or B fire-fighting, rescue, or EMS vehicle when operated by a volunteer member of a fire department, rescue squad, or EMS; or a combination of noncommercial motor vehicles that have a GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs. but less than 26,001 lbs. Commercial Drivers’ Licenses (CDL):
Class A CDL: Authorizes the holder to drive any class A motor vehicle.
Class B CDL: Authorizes the holder to drive any class B motor vehicle.
Class C CDL: Authorizes the holder to drive any class C motor vehicle.
H Endorsement: Authorizes the holder to drive vehicles, regardless of size or class, except tank vehicles when transporting hazardous material that requires the vehicle to be placarded.
M Endorsement: Authorizes the holder to drive a motorcycle.
N Endorsement: Authorizes the holder to drive tank vehicles not carrying hazardous materials.
P Endorsement: Authorizes the holder to drive vehicles carrying passengers.
T Endorsement: Authorizes the holder to drive double trailers.
X Endorsement: Authorizes the holder to drive tank vehicles carrying hazardous materials.
Out-of-state restricted license holders who are between the ages of 16 and 18 may be eligible for any of the 3 provisional licenses, depending on the driving experience of the driver.