North Carolina

Highway safety laws differ from state to state. The summary information here can be used to compare laws in specific categories. We monitor legislative changes and update this information as needed.

RESTRICTIONS ON CELLPHONE USE AND TEXTING
Hand-held ban no
Young drivers all cellphone ban drivers younger than 18
Texting ban all drivers
Enforcement primary
MAXIMUM POSTED SPEED LIMITS
Rural interstates (mph) 70
Urban interstates (mph) 70
Other limited access roads (mph) 70
Other roads (mph) 55
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
To get a learners license you must:
Have a minimum age of 151,2
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
Before getting a license or restricted license you must:
Have a mandatory holding period of 12 months2
Have a minimum supervised driving time of 60 hours, 10 of which must be at night, learner phase; 12 hours, 6 of which must be at night, intermediate phase
Have a minimum age of 163,4
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
Restrictions during intermediate or restricted license stage:
Nighttime restrictions 9 p.m.-5 a.m.
Passenger restrictions

(family members excepted unless otherwise noted)
no more than 1 passenger younger than 21; if a family member younger than 21 is already a passenger then no other passengers younger than 21 who are not family members
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
Minimum age at which restrictions may be lifted:
Nighttime restrictions 6 months or until age 18, whichever occurs first (min. age: 16, 6 mos.)
Passenger restrictions 6 months or until age 18, whichever occurs first (min. age: 16, 6 mos.)
REGULAR LICENSING RENEWAL CYCLE
Length of regular renewal cycle 8 years
OLDER DRIVER SPECIAL LICENSING PROVISIONS
Accelerated renewal 5 years for drivers 66 and older
Other provisions none that are safety related5
CHILD RESTRAINTS
Must be in child restraint 7 years and younger and less than 80 pounds
Adult safety belt permissible 8 through 15 years + children 40-80 pounds in seats without shoulder belts
Maximum fine 1st offense $256
Seating preference 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
Children not covered all children covered
SAFETY BELT USE
Initial effective date 10/01/85
Standard enforcement? yes; effective 12/01/06 (secondary for rear seat occupants)
Who is covered? In what seats? 16+ years in all seats
Maximum fine 1st offense $25
Can nonuse decrease monetary awards for injuries in lawsuits? no
MOTORCYCLE HELMET USE
Motorcyclists covered all riders
BICYCLE HELMET USE
Covered by state law 15 and younger
PICKUP TRUCKS: RESTRICTIONS ON RIDING IN CARGO AREAS
Restrictions on riding in cargo areas yes
Gaps in coverage people 16 and older; persons 15 and younger if a supervising adult is present in the cargo area; when the child is belted; emergencies; parades; vehicle being used in agriculture; vehicles with permanent overhead structures
LOW-SPEED VEHICLES
On which roads are low-speed vehicles permitted? roads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less
What is the top speed permissible for low-speed vehicles? 25 mph
AUTOMATED ENFORCEMENT: RED LIGHT CAMERAS
Statewide or only specified locations? where specified by statute (Albemarle, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Cornelius, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, High Point, Huntersville, Lumberton, Matthews, Nags Head, Newton, Pineville, Rocky Mount, Spring Lake, and Wilmington)
Violations red light
Citations issued to whom? owner
Who is liable? owner
What image is taken? photo, video, electronic image
Traditional enforcement penalty $100 maximum fine/3 points
Auto enforcement penalties/record $100 civil penalty; no points (effective 07/01/15)

1In North Carolina, driver education is required for permit applicants younger than 18.

2In North Carolina, learner’s permit holders may not drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the first six months.

3In North Carolina, driver education is required for license applicants younger than 18.

4In North Carolina, a person who is at least 16 but younger than 18 must complete a minimum of 12 additional hours (six of which must be at night) of supervised driving to obtain a full provisional license.

5In North Carolina, people 60 and older are not required to parallel park in the road test.

6This state assesses points for violations.