Wait for young drivers reduced in NC Senate measure

RALEIGH, N.C. — New school-age drivers in North Carolina could receive a provisional license in half the time current law requires in legislation recommended Wednesday by a state Senate committee.

Current law requires young people with learner’s permits to hold them at least 12 months before seeking a license that lets them drive unsupervised.

The legislation would reduce that wait to a six-month minimum. These motorists still would have to log in 60 hours behind the wheel with a supervising parent and be at least 16 years old for the next-level license.

Sen. Vickie Sawyer, a Davidson County Republican and bill sponsor, said the measure responds to constituents whose children have had to wait during the pandemic for license appointments at the Division of Motor Vehicles. Sawyer said only a handful of states require a 12-month wait.

The bill also attempts to address virus-related backlogs for young people seeking DMV road tests, which must be completed to receive a provisional license. The measure would let DMV contract testing to commercial driver training schools.

Justin DeLancey, a legislative lobbyist for the Department of Transportation, which oversees DMV, told the transportation committee the legislation is a “good start.”

The measure must go through two other Senate committees before a floor vote.