Overview of the NC Graduated Driver Licensing System

The North Carolina Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system for beginning drivers was implemented on December 1, 1997, becoming the second such system in the United States.

Level One Limited Learner Permit

In order to be issued a Level One Limited Learner Permit, a person:

  • Must be at least 15 years old but less than 18 years old and reside in North Carolina,
  • Must have completed an approved driver education course that meets North Carolina requirements,
  • Must present a Driving Eligibility Certificate (issued by the public school system), a high school diploma or its equivalent, and
  • Must pass written, signs and vision tests.

Provisions/Restrictions:

  • All passengers must be restrained by seatbelt or child safety seat.
  • No one except the driver and the supervising driver are allowed in the front seat.
  • During the first six months, a Level One permit authorizes driving between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. while accompanied by a supervising driver.
  • Six months from Level One issuance, driving anytime with a supervising driver is allowed.

Level Two Limited Learner Permit

In order to be issued a Level Two Limited Learner Permit, a person:

  • Must be at least 16 years old, but less than 18,
  • Must have held a Level One permit for at least 12 months, and
  • Must have no convictions of moving violations or seat belt infractions within the preceding six months.

Provisions/Restrictions:

  • All passengers must be restrained by seat belt or child safety seat.
  • Supervising driver must be seated beside the driver.
  • Driving without supervision is allowed from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. and at any time when driving directly to or from work or any volunteer fire, rescue or EMS (emergency medical service), if the permit holder is a member.
  • When driving without a supervisor, no more than one passenger under 21 years of age is allowed in the vehicle. This limit does not apply to passengers who are members of the license holder's immediate family or who live in the same household as the driver.
  • However, if a family member younger than 21 years of age is a passenger in the vehicle, no other passengers under 21 are permitted.

Level Three Full Provisional License

In order to be issued a Level Three Full Provisional License, a person:

  • Must have held Level Two Limited Learner Permit for at least 6 months and have no convictions of moving violations or seat belt infractions within the preceding six months, or
  • Must be age 18 or older.

Provisions/Restrictions

  • All passengers must be restrained by seat belt or child safety seat.