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DMV temporarily waives teen driver road tests

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RALEIGH — With Gov. Roy Cooper’s recent signing of House Bill 158, the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles will temporarily waive the requirement that young drivers seeking a Level 2 limited provisional license need to undergo a driving test. Those tests have been suspended since March for health safety reasons.

“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 forgo a road test and to continue gaining driving experience.”

Drivers who are 16 or 17 years old, have held a Level 1 limited learner permit at least 12 months, have completed at least 60 hours of supervised driving, including time at night, and who have not had a moving violation or seat belt or cellphone violation within the last six months qualify for the waiver. As part of the Level 1 permit process, they already passed the DMV’s written, sign and vision tests, and have their driving eligibility and driver’s education certificates.

Drivers seeking the waiver must make an online 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, with a new day added to the system each weekday.

Drivers must be accompanied by a parent or a guardian at the office, and they will need to present proof of liability insurance, and their driving log showing at least the 60 hours of supervised driving, and get their picture taken. They will be given a paper temporary license, with the permanent license 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. The new driver is not allowed to have more than one passenger under 21 in the vehicle, except for family members who live in the same household. They are also prohibited from using a cellphone in the vehicle.

Drivers who get the waiver will still need to pass a road test to move up to the Level 3 full provisional license, which allows unsupervised driving at any time. They will have to wait at least six months after receiving the Level 2 license to advance to that next level, as well as not have convictions for a moving violation or seat belt/cellphone infraction within the last six months before scheduling that road test.

Once the DMV can resume road tests, a provision of the new law ends the waiver option. There is not a set timetable for the road test resumption, as the division is working with health officials to determine when they will be safe to begin and under what restrictions for the driver, examiner and vehicle.

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