By TMoM Team Member Suzy Fielders 

Like almost anything involving the DMV, getting a driving permit is a somewhat confusing and complex process that involves a lot of steps. Add in a pandemic and being a homeschooled teen on top of that, and it’s leaving a lot of us moms confused on what to do to get a permit for our teen!

I’ve seen so many other moms of homeschool teens comment in Facebook groups about not knowing what to do or what forms are needed for a driving permit, so I wanted to share about my experience with my 15-year-old daughter in hopes of helping those moms. First, you are not alone. It took me forever to figure things out and piece it all together. Hopefully, this blog helps you get through this process a little easier. Secondly, it’s absolutely a multi-step process, so be prepared for it all to take a while.

Driver’s Education

Every teenager who aims to get a driving permit must complete driver’s education. For those who don’t homeschool, it’s offered through your teen’s school. However, for all of us who homeschool we must find an alternative learning option. I did not go this route, but I read that homeschoolers can still take a driver’s education class through public schools – but need to sign up and be on a wait list. From all I’ve heard from my public-school friends, the wait is long these days, especially post-pandemic.

Therefore, we opted to do a private driver’s education school class. This is an option for any teens – even those in public schools – if they do not want to wait longer to take a driver’s education class. Be prepared though it is not cheap. There are many private driver’s education schools in the Triad. I’d recommend you do a Google search and find ones close to you that have good reviews and feel like a good fit. Some homeschool co-ops also have driver’s education options as well, but I believe right now the classroom portion is mostly virtual (or was last year).

We ended up using a local, private driving school and had a great experience there. The instructor (also business owner) was knowledgeable and patient.

Regardless of where you go, 30 hours of classroom instruction time and 6 hours of road instruction are required to obtain a driving permit in North Carolina. Also, the teen must be 14 and a half at the time of driver’s ed.

Forms & Documents Needed

After your teen completes the driver’s education course, they will need a few forms in order to obtain their permit. There are also several documents required at the DMV appointment.

Driver’s Eligibility Certificate

First, and this seems to be the big one for homeschoolers that is often overlooked, any homeschooled teen will need to request a Driver’s Eligibility Certificate (DEC) form from the DNPE. Don’t worry it’s very easy to get! Simply log into your DNPE account, using this link. On the dashboard page, click Request a Driver’s Eligibility Certificate. You’ll see a check box to check and a button to click after to Request the certificate. It takes about a week to receive. If your child is in public school, then they should receive this form from their guidance counselor (if taking the class at a private driving school) or driver’s ed instructor (if taking the class at school) after completing the driver’s education class. Please note this form expires after 30 days, and you should not sign it until you are at the DMV, so plan your DMV appointment accordingly!

Driver Education Course – Certificate of Completion

Your teen will receive this form from their driver’s education instructor. They should receive two copies – one for the DMV and the other for the insurance. Keep in mind you do not need to add your teen to your insurance policy until they receive their limited provisional license. Therefore, when they have their permit, they do not need to be added to your insurance policy yet. When your teen is ready to get their limited provisional license, you’ll need to use this certificate to obtain a DL-123 from your insurance provider. Keep in mind the DL-123 expires in 30 days just like the DEC.

Documents Required at DMV Appointment

In addition to the two forms above, you will need some other documentation for your teen to obtain their permit.

  1. A document proving their age (remember teen must be 15 to get a permit) and identity. The easiest to use are a birth certificate or U.S. passport. Click here to see full list of documents that can be used for this requirement.
  2. Social security card.
  3. A document proving N.C. residency. This one we didn’t actually bring, but apparently as a minor my license was enough. Click here to find out more about this requirement. Side note: thank you to the DMV worker who first thought I was my daughter’s sister and not her mother, that made my day.

Lastly, but certainly not least, while it is not a document there is a fee required to get your permit. It is currently $21.50.

The Driving Permit Appointment

Many DMV locations in the Triad now require appointments and do not accept walk-ins. Some only accept walk-ins on certain days or times. I highly recommend making an appointment as it makes the wait much smaller. Keep in mind most DMV locations are working almost or over a month out for appointments, so book in advance! You can always change it. Click here to make an appointment with your preferred DMV location.

Due to COVID, at least at the DMV location we went to, I (nor any parent) was not allowed to actual go inside with your teen to get their permit. I had to wait in my car. Be sure to prepare your teen with what they need to do, give them their forms, and tell them what to expect. Also, please check they have all those important documents when they come back out. I’m so glad I did as it turns out my daughter unknowingly dropped her social security card while inside!

Your teen needs to be sure to study as they will be required to take and pass a written test for their permit. Ok, so I say written but it’s actually on a computer – because well this is 2022! They also need to pass a sign and vision test.

Once they pass all the tests and get their permit, then they will get a temporary paper permit. The permanent permit will arrive in the mail in a couple weeks.

Driving Permit Rules and Next Steps

There are a few basic rules for permit drivers:

  1. When driving, there must be a licensed driver sitting next to the teen that is their parent or legal guardian, grandparent, or an adult who has been approved by a parent or legal guardian.
  2. For the first six months, they may only drive between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  3. Most importantly, they must log their hours – until they reach 60 hours – on a sheet given at their permit appointment. While there is an app to track it as well, they will need the paper form in order to get their limited provisional license.

Finally, since it’s so hard to keep track of the different ‘levels’ of licenses for teens. Therefore, I’m doing a super brief overview of those to help you prepare for next steps after a permit!

After the permit comes the limited provisional license. They will need for this:

  • The log proving their 60 driving hours
  • DL-123 – proving insurance
  • Had their permit for at least 6 months
  • Be at least 16 years old
  • No convictions of moving violations or seat belt/mobile phone infractions within the last six months

Next, is the full provisional license. For this one they will need:

  • Completed and logged at least 12 driving hours
  • Had their limited provisional license for at least 6 months
  • Be at least 16 years old
  • No convictions of moving violations or seat belt/mobile phone infractions within the last six months
  • Pass a driving/road test – depending on COVID some driving tests are temporarily suspended, I’d recommend checking with the DMV location close to your appointment date to confirm

Wishing your teen safe & happy driving and good luck to the parents dealing with this big transition. It isn’t easy for any of us!

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