The mandatory supervised driving period in North Carolina for young people before they can drive by themselves will be scaled back permanently after Gov. Roy Cooper said on Friday he’ll let a bill become law without his signature.
The General Assembly sent Cooper last month legislation addressing in part when a teen can move up from a learner’s permit to what’s called a limited provisional license and drive by themselves.
State law has required a young person to hold the permit for at least 12 months, although lawmakers reduced it to six months temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic to address delayed driver’s education classes.
The law reverted to 12 months at the end of 2022, but legislators said they were still receiving complaints from parents whose children are trying to get to the next level of driving. So the latest measure reinstates the six-month minimum for the rest of 2023 before settling the time at nine months.
In a news release, Cooper recognized that the legislation passed the General Assembly by a large margin because it should help reduce waiting times for youths seeking their license.
But ‘I have concerns that this law could make our roads less safe and I encourage the Division of Motor Vehicles and the legislature to monitor its effects closely,’ the governor said. Cooper had until Friday night to sign the bill or veto it. Since he’ll do neither, it will become law.
Other rules remain in place. A young driver is eligible to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15 but must be at least 16 to move up to the limited provisional license. In between, the youth must complete 60 hours of supervised driving with an adult — usually a parent — and pass a road test.
The bill also would slightly ease passenger constraints for a limited provisional licensee so that the person could drive someone unrelated to them to and from school. This change begins Aug. 1. The Division of Motor Vehicles said later Friday that the supervised driving period change to six months will take effect starting Monday.