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North Dakota New Resident Guide

Welcome to North Dakota! 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 Dakota. 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 licensee has 10 days to notify the director of a name or address change. A corrected license must be obtained in the event of a name change.
  • Any person other than a nonresident student, a tourist, or a nonresident member of the Armed Forces who has lived in this state 90 consecutive days shall be deemed a resident of North Dakota for the purpose of driver licensing. You may use your non-commercial license from another state for a period of 60 days after you become a resident of North Dakota. You may use your commercial license from another state for a period of 30 days after you become a resident of North Dakota.


Graduated Licensing Program



Learner's Permit

Requirements

  • Must be at least 14 years old;
  • Must pass written test and vision screening.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May only drive when accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 18 years of age and has had at least 3 years of driving experience and is occupying a seat beside the driver.
  • May not drive between 9 PM or sunset, whichever comes later, and 5 AM, unless driving to or from home and a school, work, or religious activity.

Restricted License - for permit holders age 14 or 15

Requirements

  • If you obtained your learner's permit at age 14, you must have held permit for at least 12 months.
  • If you obtained your learner's permit at age 15, you must have held permit until age 16 or a minimum of 6 months, whichever is longer.
  • Must have completed driver education.
  • Must have accumulated 50 hours of supervised practice driving.
  • Must pass road test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • If under 16, may not drive between 9 PM or sunset, whichever comes later, and 5 AM, unless driving to or from home and a school, work, or religious activity.
  • May only operate vehicle belonging to family members.
  • At age 16, this license transitions to an unrestricted license.

Unrestricted License

Requirements

  • If you obtained your learner's permit at age 16 or 17, you must have held your permit for 6 months or to the age of 18, whichever comes first.
  • Must pass road test.


Violation Point Counts

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



3 - 24 Point Violations

24 PointsFleeing from law enforcement officer in a motor vehicle
18 PointsLeaving the scene of accident involving injury or death
14 PointsLeaving the scene of accident involving property damage
12 PointsAggravated reckless driving
10 PointsRacing in a motor vehicle
8 PointsReckless driving
6 Points
  • Careless driving (Basic Rule)
  • Overtaking a school bus
  • Failing to give immediate notice of accident
4 Points
  • Violating or exceeding restriction contained in a restricted certificate or license or Instructional Permit
  • Clinging to other vehicle while riding a motorcycle
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license
3 Points
  • Exhibition driving
  • Violating corrective lens restriction
  • Failing to stop at RR crossing

2 Point Violations

  • Overtaking where prohibited or unlawful.
  • Driving on wrong side of road
  • Failing to yield right-of-way
  • Failing to use care required
  • Disobeying traffic control signals
  • Failing to yield-right-of-way to funeral procession
  • Knowingly driving illegally modified vehicle
  • Open container (Driver)
  • Violating hazardous material regulations
  • Knowingly operating an unsafe vehicle
  • Improperly operating or unlawfully carrying passengers or packages on a motorcycle
  • Improperly operating a motorcycle in laned traffic
  • Carrying a passenger on a motorcycle not equipped with passenger footrests
  • Operating a motorcycle without protective headgear
  • Permitting unauthorized minor or person to drive
  • Driving in Violation of the Conditions of an Instruction Permit
  • Unlawful stopping, standing, or parking on an open highway
  • Causing accident w/emergency vehicle
  • Knowingly driving with defective, non-existent or unlawful equipment
  • Knowingly driving with defective brakes
  • Disregarding lawful command of police officer

1 Point Violations

  • Failing to dim head lamps
  • Operator/Responsible party failing to provide child restraint device.
  • Failing to display license plates
  • Unlawful parking in specified prohibited places
  • Leaving motor vehicle improperly unattended on an open highway
  • Opening or leaving motor vehicle doors open when unsafe to do so

Speeding Violations

Speeding Violations In speed zones less than 70 MPH:
  • 1 - 5 mph over limit
  • 6 - 10 mph over limit
0 points
11 - 15 mph over limit1 point
16 - 20 mph over limit3 points
21 - 25 mph over limit5 points
26 - 35 mph over limit9 points
36 - 45 mph over limit12 points
46 mph plus over limit15 points
Speeding Violations In speed zones 70 MPH or greater:
1 - 5 mph over limit0 points
6 - 10 mph over limit 1 point
11 - 15 mph over limit3 points
16 - 20 mph over limit5 points
21 - 25 mph over limit7 points
26 - 30 mph over limit10 points
31 - 35 mph over limit12 points
36 mph plus over limit15 points

Insurance Violations

"No liability insurance" may be assigned 6, 12, or 14 points.

Driving Record

The point total on your driving record can be reduced:

  • 1 point for every three-month period during which the driver has not had any points recorded against his or her record.
  • 3 points if the driver completes an approved driver improvement course such as a defensive driving course.
  • A person may elect to attend a driver improvement course in lieu of points on the driving record for violations assigned 5 or less points. This option is valid once every 12 months and may not be used in conjunction with item 2 above.

Driving license or privileges shall be suspended upon an accumulation of twelve points for a period of seven days for each point over eleven.

For drivers under the age of 18, driving license or privileges will be canceled upon an accumulation of six or more points.



Insurance Requirements



State law requires that each motor vehicle carry a minimum of:

  • $25,000 per person;
  • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury and;
  • $25,000 per accident for property damage.

A person may not drive, or the owner may not cause or knowingly permit to be driven, a motor vehicle in this state without a valid policy of liability insurance to include the no-fault, in effect. Upon stopping a motor vehicle for any other statutory violation, a law enforcement officer, who is authorized to issue traffic citations, shall verify that the insurance card is in the 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 within 300 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you.

You must use your headlights:

  • From sunset to sunrise, and at any other time necessary for safe driving.
  • During inclement weather when visibility is less than 1,000 feet due to rain, snow, sleet, hail, smoke, or fog.

The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that flashing one's high beams at another driver was a violation of N.D.C.C. § 39-21-21. The statute says that drivers must use low beam headlights within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle and within 300 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of them, and provides no exceptions for momentary flashing of high beams. The court concluded that the statute prohibits the use of high beam headlights within these distances, for any length of time and for any purpose.



Implied Consent Laws



  • First offense - Revocation 1 year.
  • Second offense (within 5 years) - Revocation 3 years<.>
  • Third offense (within 5 years) - Revocation 4 years.
  • A person's driving privileges are not subject to revocation for the refusal if an administrative hearing is not held, the person mails in an affidavit of intent to plead guilty and the person actually pleads guilty.
  • However, if such person has been convicted of DUI, his/her driving privileges shall be suspended until such person furnishes a written statement of the counselor/instructor that no education or treatment program is necessary, or the offender has attended and complied with the program's rules.


DUI Penalties



First Offense (Class B Misdemeanor)

  • Up to 30 days imprisonment;
  • $250 - $1,000 fine;
  • 91 days license suspension. If BAC .18 or more, 180 days license suspension;
  • Referred for addiction evaluation and alcohol education/treatment. If required, must complete before license may be reinstated;
  • Ignition interlock may be required for reinstatement of restricted driving privileges.

Second Offense (within 5 years) (Class B Misdemeanor)

  • 5 days - 30 days imprisonment;
  • $500 - $1,000 fine;
  • 30 days community service may be offered as alternative to imprisonment;
  • 365 days license suspension;
  • Referred for addiction evaluation and alcohol education/treatment. If required, must complete before license may be reinstated;
  • Ignition interlock may be required for reinstatement of restricted driving privileges.

Third Offense (within 5 years) (Class A Misdemeanor)

  • 60 days - 1 year imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $2,000 fine;
  • 2 years license suspension. If BAC .18 or more, 3 years license suspension;
  • Referred for addiction evaluation and alcohol education/treatment. If required, must complete before license may be reinstated;
  • Ignition interlock may be required for reinstatement of restricted driving privileges.

Fourth Offense (within 7 years) (Class A Misdemeanor)

  • 180 days - 1 year imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $2,000 fine;
  • 2 years license suspension. If BAC .18 or more, 3 years license suspension;
  • Defendant must complete an addiction treatment program and have no alcohol or drug-related offenses within 2 consecutive years before driving privileges can be restored;
  • Ignition interlock may be required for reinstatement of restricted driving privileges.

Fifth Offense (within 7 years) (Class C Felony)

  • 180 days - 5 years imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $5,000 fine;
  • 2 years license suspension. If BAC .18 or more, 3 years license suspension;
  • Defendant must complete an addiction treatment program and have no alcohol or drug-related offenses within 2 consecutive years before driving privileges can be restored;
  • Ignition interlock may be required for reinstatement of restricted driving privileges.


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



North Dakota does not have a state law governing red light fines or the use of traffic cameras for red light enforcement.



Construction Zone Penalties



Speeding violations when workers are present are subject to an enhanced fine of $80 minimum.



Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted for the purpose of warning other drivers of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



  • A law enforcement officer leading a funeral procession may proceed through an intersection or direct traffic despite any traffic control device. The other vehicles in the procession can then follow the police officer, regardless of the traffic signal.
  • Vehicles in a funeral procession must yield the right-of-way to emergency vehicles or if directed by a police officer.
  • All vehicles in the procession must have their headlights lit, and their emergency lights flashing and they must be as closely spaced as safely possible.
  • Other vehicles may not drive between, join, pass on a two-lane road, or cross the path of vehicles in a funeral procession.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless on a highway with separate roadways and meeting or passing a school bus which is on a different roadway, or when upon a controlled-access highway and the school bus is stopped in a loading zone which is a part of or adjacent to such highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a fine of $100 and 6 points on the driver's record.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



There is no specific law regarding minimum safe passing distance.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • A person holding an instruction permit for the operation of a motorcycle may operate the motorcycle only during the hours when use of headlights is not required.
  • An applicant 16 years of age and older who does not hold a current valid driver's license, may be issued a Class M learner's permit after successful completion of a written examination. The Class M license will be issued after successful completion of a driver's examination or completion of an approved motorcycle safety course.
  • Applicants 14 or 15 years of age may be issued a motorcycle learner's permit if enrolled in or have completed an approved motorcycle safety course. The learner's permit must be held for at least 2 months prior to applying for a Class M driver's license, and the permit holder must have completed the safety course and hold a valid motorcycle learner's permit at the time of application. A driver under 16 years of age is restricted to driving a motorcycle with an engine of 250 cubic centimeters, or less, displacement.

Protective Gear

  • No person under the age of 18 years may operate or ride on a motorcycle unless a helmet is being worn on the head of the operator and rider. If the operator of a motorcycle is required to wear a helmet, any passenger must also wear a helmet regardless of the age of the passenger.

Headlights

  • Daytime use of headlight not required.

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 not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve.
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing.
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

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



  • 75 mph on access-controlled, paved and divided, multilane interstate highways;
  • 70 mph on paved and divided multilane highways;
  • 65 mph on paved two-lane highways if posted for that speed;
  • 55 mph on gravel, dirt or loose surface highways, and on two-lane county and township highways if there is no speed limit posted;
  • 25 mph in a business or residential district or a public park;
  • 20 mph in a school zone unless a lower speed limit has been posted.
    • This speed limit applies when the school is in recess and when children are going to and from school.


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants 18 years and older in the front seat must wear safety belts.
  • Police may not stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $20.

Child Seats

  • Children 6 years and younger who are less than 57 inches tall or weigh less than 80 pounds must be in a child seat.
  • Children 6 years and younger who are least 40 pounds may be restrained by a lap belt if there are no available lap and shoulder belts.
  • Children 7 - 17 years must be restrained and may use an adult safety 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



State law requires drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights, including wreckers and highway maintenance vehicles, traveling in the same direction, to vacate the lane closest if safe and possible to do so, or slow to a safe speed.

Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicle
    • Highway maintenance vehicle
  • You must do the following:
    • Move to a lane that is not adjacent to the vehicle, if you may do so safely.
    • If changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe, proceed with caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle, and maintain a safe speed for the road conditions.

Following

  • Do not follow any emergency vehicle closer than 500 feet, or stop within 200 feet of where the emergency vehicle has stopped in answer to a 911 emergency.

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 immediately to the local police department, county sheriff, or state highway patrol. If the driver is unable to make the report, any other occupant of the vehicle who is able to must do so.
    • The name of the insurance policy carrier and policy number of the driver or the vehicle owner must be given to the officer. If the driver does not have this information available, the driver must supply it to the driver license division within 5 days.
  • 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 and address
    • Insurance policy carrier of driver and owner
    • Vehicle registration number
  • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • Unattended vehicle or property
    • If you have collided with a vehicle that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name and address, the owner's name and address, and the name of the insurance policy carrier of the driver and owner. If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information and a statement of the circumstances.
    • If you have collided with other unattended property on or adjacent to a highway, locate and notify the owner of the driver's name and address, the vehicle registration number, and show your driver's license if requested.


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