Teen Licenses Distributed without Road Tests

by Gwen Newell

North Carolina lawmakers have pushed to help teens get their licenses during the pandemic by approving a bill that allows the state Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to temporarily drop the requirement that applicants pass a road test to obtain their limited provisional license. The waiver expires once the DMV resumes road tests, or 180 days from the effective date of the act, whichever happens first.

So, exactly how many teens have recently obtained their licenses without a road test? While that number is still unknown, it is important to reiterate that students will still be required to complete 15 hours of classroom instruction and at least six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction under House Bill 1189 Driver Education COVID-19 Response. Passing the driver education program remains a requirement to receive a limited learner’s permit in North Carolina for those under 18.

The four bills that were submitted to the General Assembly address teen drivers looking to get behind the wheel:

  • House Bill 1213 – waives road test requirements for applicants if all requirements are met for the license, as well as the consent of a parents or guardian. This law expired on September 30.
  • Senate Bill 843 – temporarily waives road test requirements for Level 2 limited provisional licenses, which is available to teens ages 16 and 17 that need to hold their learner’s permit for at least a year. This bill went into effect July 1 and “It acknowledges the real-world scenario that we have kids who have turned 16 during the pandemic and it’s a big part of life and they can’t get their license,” said Senator Jim Perry.
  • House Bill 1189 – provides accommodations for students that completed at least 20 hours of driver education program between Jan. 2020 and March 2020. Students who have not completed 20 hours of coursework will have to pass a proficiency exam. Students must also complete at least six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction before they can be issued a North Carolina Driver Education Completion Certificate. Also included in the bill is a $10 million fund to aid driver education.
  • Senate Bill 833 – reduces the time teen drivers need to wait before upgrading from the limited learner’s permit to provisional drivers licenses. This applies to teens turning 15 on or after March 1 and expires on June 30, 2021.

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