How It Works
Fix your ticket now

North Carolina New Resident Guide

Welcome to North Carolina! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in North Carolina. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • A new resident of North Carolina who has a valid driver's license from another jurisdiction must obtain a North Carolina driver's license within 60 days of becoming a resident.
  • A person whose address or name changes shall notify the DMV within 60 days after the change occurs.
  • Upon moving to North Carolina from another state, you must register your motor vehicle at the expiration of the time granted by the reciprocity agreement between North Carolina and your prior state of residence (usually 30 days) or when gainful employment is accepted, whichever occurs first. You should obtain a North Carolina driver license prior to registering a vehicle.
  • When moving within North Carolina you will need to apply for a duplicate driver license to notify DMV of your change of address.
  • A person whose name changes from the name stated on a driver license must notify DMV of the change within 60 days after the change occurs and obtain a duplicate driver license stating the new name.


Graduated Licensing Program



Limited Learner Permit

Requirements

  • Must be at least age 15;
  • Must have completed driver education;
  • Must pass written test;
  • Must have Driving Eligibility Certificate, high school diploma, or equivalent.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May only drive with a supervisor meeting certain qualifications:
    • Parent, legal guardian, grandparent, or adult approved by parent or legal guardian;
    • Licensed driver for at least 5 years;
    • Seated next to driver when supervising.
  • For the first 6 months, you may only drive from 5 AM to 9 PM with your supervising driver.
  • Every person riding in the vehicle operated by a permit holder must either be wearing a properly fastened safety belt or be safely restrained in a child passenger restraint system.
  • You are not permitted to use a mobile telephone or other additional technology associated with a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle on public vehicular areas.

Limited Provisional License

Requirements

  • Must have held Limited Learner Permit for 12 months;
  • No convictions or moving violations, seat belt, or mobile phone infractions within preceding 6 months;
  • Must be 16 years old;
  • Must pass road test;
  • Must have completed 60 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May drive unsupervised from 5 AM to 9 PM.
  • May drive unsupervised when driving directly to or from work or volunteer emergency service.
  • At other times, must be supervised.
  • May not transport more than 1 passenger under 21 unless accompanied by a supervising driver (family exempted).
  • If transporting a family member under 21, may not transport any other passengers under 21 unless supervised.
  • Every person riding in the vehicle operated by a permit holder must either be wearing a properly fastened safety belt or be safely restrained in a child passenger restraint system.
  • You are not permitted to use a mobile telephone or other additional technology associated with a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle on public vehicular areas.

Full Provisional License

Requirements

  • Must be 16 years and 6 months old
  • Must have held provisional license for at least 6 months
  • No convictions or moving violations, seat belt, or mobile phone infractions within preceding 6 months
  • Must have completed 12 hours of practice driving, including 6 at night
  • Must have driver eligibility certificate

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May drive unsupervised at any time
  • You are not permitted to use a mobile telephone or other additional technology associated with a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle on public vehicular areas
  • License will be suspended or revoked if driver under 18 drops out of school, is suspended from school for more than 10 consecutive days, or is assigned to an alternative educational setting due to disciplinary action for more than 10 consecutive days


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



5 Point Violations

  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Aggressive driving

4 Point Violations

  • Reckless driving
  • Hit and run, property damage only
  • Following too closely
  • Driving on wrong side of road
  • Illegal passing
  • Failure to yield right of way to pedestrian pursuant
  • Failure to yield right of way to bicycle, motor scooter or motorcycle

2 Point Violations

  • Failure to properly restrain a child in a restraint or seat belt
  • All other moving violations

1 Point Violations

  • Littering pursuant to G.S. 14-399 when the littering involves the use of a motor vehicle

Driving Record

Points do not drop off record automatically.

If you accumulate seven points, you may be assigned to a driver improvement clinic.

  • The clinic fee is $50.
  • Upon satisfactory completion of the clinic, three points are deducted from your driving record

If you accumulate as many as 12 points within a three-year period, your license may be suspended.

The accumulation of eight points within three years following the reinstatement of your license can result in a second suspension.

If your driver license is suspended by the point system, it may be taken for:

  • 60 days for the first suspension;
  • 6 months for the second; and
  • 12 months for the third.
  • When your driving privilege is reinstated, all previous driver license points are canceled.


Insurance Requirements



In addition to proof of ownership, North Carolina law requires that before a motor vehicle can be licensed, the owner must certify that the vehicle is covered by liability insurance. This can be in the form of a liability insurance policy issued from a company licensed to do business in the State of North Carolina, cash or bond deposited with the State Treasurer or a certificate of self -insurance for fleets of 25 or more vehicles. This law is enacted to ensure that the costs of a crash are paid by those who are responsible.

The minimum amount of liability insurance required is:

  • $30,000 for injuries to any one person in a crash;
  • $60,000 for all personal injuries in a crash; and
  • $25,000 for all property damage in a crash.
  • $750,000 for a commercial motor vehicle.


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or person, or when following another vehicle.

You must use your headlights:

  • From sunset to sunrise and when visibility is 400 feet or less;
  • When you drive at night in a city, use low-beam headlights;
  • Whenever they are using windshield wipers due to smoke, fog, rain, sleet, or snow.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.



Implied Consent Laws



  • Revocation 12 months (6 months mandatory).
  • If a driver appears before a judicial official the revocation period is 30 days (mand) if there are no pending offenses for which the person's license had been or is revoked. This period may be increased to 45 days if the person does not appear before the judicial official.


DUI Penalties



After hearing mitigate and aggravating factors, a court determines which level punishment to impose.

Mitigating factors

  • Slight impairment.
  • Driving record.
  • Medical condition.
  • Voluntary submission to mental health facility.
  • Completion of substance abuse treatment.

Aggravating factors

  • High BAC.
  • Negligent or reckless driving.
  • Prior driving record.
  • Driving while license revoked.
  • Driving with child under age of 18 in vehicle.

Level 1 Punishment

  • 30 days - 24 months imprisonment;
  • Up to $4,000 fine;
  • Court may order a defendant to abstain from alcohol consumption 30 - 60 days, as verified by a continuous alcohol monitoring system.

Level 2 Punishment

  • 7 days - 12 months imprisonment;
  • Up to $2,000 fine;
  • Court may order a defendant to abstain from alcohol consumption 30 - 60 days, as verified by a continuous alcohol monitoring system.

Level 3 Punishment

  • 72 hours - 6 months imprisonment;
  • Up to $1,000 fine;
  • 72 hours community service instead of or in addition to jail time.

Level 4 Punishment

  • 48 hours - 120 days imprisonment;
  • Up to $500 fine;
  • 48 hours community service instead of or in addition to jail time.

Level 5 Punishment

  • 24 hours - 60 days imprisonment;
  • Up to $200 fine;
  • 24 hours community service instead of or in addition to jail time.

License Revocation Based on Number of Offenses, Not on Level of Punishment

  • First offense - 1 year revocation.
  • Subsequent offense (not within 3 years) - 1 year revocation.
  • Second offense (within 3 years) - 2 - 4 year revocation.
  • Third offense (within 5 years of second offense) - 3 years - Permanent revocation.

Other

Alcohol education and treatment

  • May be ordered as condition of probation.
  • May be ordered that term of imprisonment be served in an inpatient alcohol treatment facility.

Ignition interlock

  • If eligible for restricted driving privileges, may be required to operate vehicles with ignition interlock only.
  • If BAC was .15 or greater, or if person is second or subsequent offender (within 7 years), ignition interlock required.

Length of time required is based on length of original revocation period

  • 1 year = 1 year ignition interlock from date of restoration.
  • 4 years = 3 years ignition interlock from date of restoration.
  • Permanent = 7 years ignition interlock from date of restoration.


Open Container Law



The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.



Red Light Violation Fines



  • Traditional enforcement: $100 maximum fine/3 points.
  • Auto enforcement: $75 civil penalty/no points.


Construction Zone Penalties



Speeding violations are subject to an additional $250 fine, whether or not workers are present.



Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance. If the speed limit is 45 mph or more, signal at least 200 feet in advance. The faster you are driving, the farther ahead you should signal.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



  • The lead vehicle must be marked with a light, flag or other insignia indicating a funeral procession. Each vehicle in the procession must have its headlights lit and hazard warning lights on.
  • When the lead vehicle has entered an intersection lawfully, the other vehicles may proceed without regard to the traffic signal.
  • Funeral processions have the right-of-way, but they must yield to emergency vehicles or when directed by a police officer.
  • Other vehicles may not attempt to pass or knowingly drive between vehicles in a funeral procession.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless the bus is on the opposite side of a divided highway. A "divided highway" includes a center lane for left turns if the roadway consists of at least four or more lanes, or a physical barrier.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and will result in a minimum fine of $500.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



There is no specific law regarding minimum safe passing distance.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • To drive a motorcycle, a person shall have a full provisional license with a motorcycle learner's permit, a regular driver's license with a motorcycle learner's permit, a full provisional license with a motorcycle endorsement, or a regular driver's license with a motorcycle endorsement.
  • To obtain a motorcycle endorsement, an applicant must pass a knowledge test concerning motorcycles, pay the fee, and either pass a road test or provide proof of successful completion of the North Carolina motorcycle safety education program basic rider course or experienced rider course, or any other approved course for this purpose.
  • An applicant must pass a vision test, road sign test, and written test to obtain a motorcycle learner's permit.
  • Motorcycle Learner's Permit: A person who is 16 or 17 years old and has a full provisional license, or a person who is at least 18 years old and has a valid license, is eligible for a motorcycle learner's permit.
  • A motorcycle learner's permit is valid for 12 months after it is issued, and may be renewed for one additional 6-month period.

Protective Gear

  • The operator and all passengers of a motorcycle or moped must wear a protective helmet.

Headlights

  • Every motorcycle and motor-driven cycle shall be equipped with either 1 or 2 headlamps that shall be lighted at all times when the motorcycle is in operation.

Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Two motorcycles may travel side-by-side in a single lane.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may pass a left-turning vehicle that is in a lane designated for left turns.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve where the driver's view along the highway is obstructed within a distance of 500 feet, or where a centerline has been placed upon the hill or curve.
  • At any intersection or railroad grade crossing.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle.
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn.
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.


Speed Limits



  • 70 mph on the interstate highway system or other controlled-access highways;
    • The maximum speed limit on these highways is 55 mph unless an engineering and traffic investigation justifies a higher speed limit. However, any increase in the speed limit cannot be greater than 70 mph.
  • 55 mph on highways outside municipal corporate limits;
  • 35 mph on highways inside municipal corporate limits.


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants 16 years and older must wear safety belts.
  • Police may not stop vehicles solely for a belt law violation if the occupant not wearing a safety belt is in the rear seat. Police may stop vehicles for all other belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.

Child Seats

  • Children 7 years and younger or who are less than 80 pounds must use a child seat.
  • Children 4 years and younger who weigh less than 40 pounds must be in the rear seat unless the front passenger airbag is deactivated or the restraint is designed for use with airbags.
  • In a seating position where there is no available lap/shoulder belt, children 40 - 80 pounds may use a lap belt without a booster seat.
  • Children 8 - 15 years must be restrained, and may use an adult seat belt.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.
  • Points will be assessed for a violation of this law.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Law enforcement
    • Fire department
    • Ambulance or rescue emergency vehicle
    • Tow trucks and wreckers
    • Utility service vehicles
    • Highway maintenance vehicles
  • You must do the following:
    • If on a highway with at least two lanes for traffic proceeding in the direction of the approaching vehicle and if the approaching vehicle may change lanes safely and without interfering with any vehicular traffic, move the vehicle into a lane that is not the lane nearest the vehicle and continue traveling in that lane until safely clear of the vehicle.
    • If the roadway has only one lane for traffic proceeding in the direction of the approaching vehicle, or changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe, reduce the speed of the vehicle and maintain a safe speed for road conditions. Be prepared to stop.

Following

  • Do not follow a fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm closer than one block, or drive into or park within the block where the fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.
  • Outside of the corporate limits of any city or town, do not follow any fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm closer than 400 feet or to drive into or park such vehicle within a space of 400 feet from where fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.
  • Do not park within 100 feet of law enforcement or fire department vehicles, public or private ambulances, or rescue squad emergency vehicles which are engaged in the investigation of an accident or engaged in rendering assistance to victims of such accident.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled
  • Call police immediately if necessary
    • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more, you must report the accident as quickly as possible to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
    • The driver and any passengers must remain at the scene until an officer arrives and authorizes the driver to leave. The only exception is to call for a law enforcement officer or medical assistance, or to remove oneself or others from significant risk of injury.
  • Driver and any passengers must provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name, address, and driver license number
    • Vehicle license plate number
  • Unattended vehicle or property
    • If you have collided with a vehicle or other property that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name, address, and driver's license number, and the vehicle license plate number.
    • If you are unable to do so, report this information to the nearest available peace officer, or leave a written notice providing this information
  • If a crash occurs in the roadway, and the crash has not resulted in injury or death, the vehicle must be moved as soon as possible out of traffic if it can be driven safely.


Fix your ticket now