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Teen Driver Law Changes Go Into Effect Today In N.C.

Upon passage of a bill by the North Carolina General Assembly, the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles is announcing changes to the graduated driver licensing (GDL) program for teens.

Effective today (May 8), teen drivers will again need to have their Level 1 Limited Learner Permit for six months before being able to get their Level 2 Limited Provisional License. Teen drivers will still be required to: be at least 16 years old, log 60 hours of driving time, pass a road test and show printed proof of insurance in the teen driver’s name.

The requirement to advance to Level 2 had been 12 months for most of the last 25 years since the GDL system was put into place in 1997. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislature temporarily shortened this requirement to six months. That provision lapsed at the end of 2022, leaving thousands of teen drivers and their families in limbo.

According to the new legislation, this six-month provision will again lapse at the end of the year. Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, the provision will permanently change to nine months. Another change to the GDL system will allow Level 2 permit holders to be able to drive one passenger under 21 that is not a family member, if they are being driven directly to or from school. This is in addition to the existing provision allowing one passenger under 21 that is a family member.

As a reminder, NCDMV schedule changes went into effect on May 1. After noon, all customer services statewide are now provided on a walk-in basis. Appointments are only available in the morning through the 11 a.m. hour and can be booked at Road tests, which a teen driver must successfully pass to achieve a Level 2 permit, are not available after 4 p.m.

[News release from North Carolina Department of Transportation]