Gov. Cooper signs bill allowing teen drivers in NC to get ‘limited’ license without road test amid pandemic

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 158 on Friday that will allow teen drivers in North Carolina to get a limited driver’s license without taking a road test amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill also addressed what happens to young people who were only able to partially complete the 30 required hours of classroom instruction in order to get their first license before schools were closed.

With the signing of the bill, Cooper gave the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles the ability to temporarily waive the requirement of a road test for young drivers seeking a Level 2 Limited Provisional license.

For health and safety reasons, those tests have been suspended since March.

“Our top priority is safety and ensuring that drivers who are licensed in this state are equipped with the skills and knowledge to be safe on our roadways for themselves and any passengers, other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians,” said DMV Commissioner Torre Jessup. “We believe a young driver who has gone through the graduated licensing process to qualify for a Level 2 license should have sufficient supervised driving experience and instruction to be able to forego a road test and to continue gaining driving experience.” 

Drivers who qualify for the waiver are 16 or 17 years old, have held a Level 1 Limited Learner Permit for at least 12 months, have completed at least 60 hours of supervised driving, including time driving at night, and have not had a moving violation or seat belt/cell phone violation in the last six months.

As part of the process for a Level 1 permit, drivers already passed the DMV’s written, sign and vision test and have their driving eligibility and driver’s education certificates. 

Drivers seeking the waiver have to make an appointment at a driver license office.

They would select “Teen Driver Level 2” as the type of appointment, and then choose an available office, date and time.

The online appointments can be made up to a month in advance.

Drivers must have a parent or a guardian at the office with them, must present proof of liability insurance and a driving log that shows at least the 60 hours of supervised driving and must get their picture taken.

They will be given a paper temporary license, while the permanent license is mailed to their address. 

The Level 2 license allows unsupervised driving from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. as well as traveling to and from work, and to work with a volunteer rescue, fire or emergency medical service.

Other than member’s of the driver’s family who live in the same household, the new driver is not allowed to have more than one passenger under 21 in the vehicle. They are also not allowed to use a cell phone in the vehicle. 

Driver’s moving up to a Level 3 full provisional license will still have to pass a road test. A Level 3 license allows unsupervised driving at all times.

They will have to wait at least six months after receiving the Level 2 license to advance to move on to the next level.

They also cannot have convictions for a moving violation or seat belt/cell phone infraction within the last six months before scheduling their road test.

When the DMV can start doing road tests again, a provision of the new law will end the waiver option.

There is no set timetable for the road test resumption at this time.

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