Licensing Process

To get your driver’s license in North Dakota, you’ll move through multiple licensing stages. As you progress, you’ll also need your parents’ permission at each step.

Learner’s Permit

When you turn 14, you may apply for a learner’s permit with written permission from your parent or legal guardian. Upon passing a written test and a vision test, you’ll be issued a learner’s permit.

With a learner’s permit, you may only drive under the supervision of a licensed driver age 18 or older who has a minimum of three years of driving experience. The supervising driver must occupy the front passenger seat at all times and the number of passengers must not exceed the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended capacity. If you are under 16, you must complete at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving in varied conditions, such as winter weather conditions, nighttime, rural and urban roads, and gravel.  Keep track of your practice driving with AAA’s driving log.

You should complete driver education and behind-the-wheel training through the Department of Public Instruction or enroll in a state-approved driver’s education course (classroom or online).

Restricted License

When you turn 15 and have driven on an instruction permit for at least 12 months, you may apply for a restricted license.

With your restricted license, you’ll be allowed to drive alone; however, if you’re under the age of 16, you may only drive a vehicle belonging to your parents, legal guardian, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle.. Additionally, if under age 16, you must be accompanied by a licensed adult age 18 or older when driving between sunset or 9 p.m. (whichever is later) and 5 a.m. Exceptions apply when driving to and from work, school and religious activities. The number of passengers remains limited to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended capacity.  Keep in mind that until you reach the age of 18, North Dakota law authorizes your parents or legal guardian to withdraw their permission for you to drive. Listen to their direction, respect their knowledge, and follow family rules.

Full License

At age 16, you’re eligible for a full, unrestricted operator’s license if you’ve met all requirements of the permit stage.

In all instances, drivers and passengers under age 18 must wear seat belts. Additionally, North Dakota law bans teens under the age of 18 from using a cell phone while driving, except for emergency purposes. Everyone, regardless of age, is prohibited from reading, composing, or sending text messages or accessing the Internet while driving.

Keep in mind that until you reach the age of 18, North Dakota law authorizes your parents or legal guardian to withdraw their permission for you to drive. Listen to their direction, respect their knowledge, and follow family rules.

Now is a good time to set up a parent-teen driving agreement to help you and your parents establish expectations related to both their rules and those of the state.

Licensing Authority

The North Dakota Department of Transportation is in charge of licensing for all drivers in North Dakota.

  • Conducts the written exam and road test for your learner’s license and intermediate license.
  • Provides study materials to help you get ready for the exams.
  • Keeps track of your license status and can suspend your license if you get too many tickets, don’t keep insurance on your car or commit other violations.
  • Parent-Teen Driving Agreement – Signing a formal agreement with your parents helps in multiple ways.
  • Driver-ZED – Offered by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Driver-ZED is a computer-based program to help you practice driving on your PC.