Licensing & State Laws

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. 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.

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 the laws in your state.

For more information on the licensing process, visit North Dakota Department of Transportation.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation is in charge of licensing for all drivers in North Dakota. All written exams and behind-the-wheel tests required for your driver’s license can be performed at any of its facilities. Please check in advance for locations, hours, fees, plus acceptable forms of identification you’ll need to present when applying for each stage of licensing — and note that you must be accompanied by your parent or legal guardian when appearing for your road test. Study materials to help you get ready for the exams are also available.

Your parents will do most of the rule setting and enforcement as you learn to drive. But state and local police are involved, too.

Police enforce traffic laws and investigate crashes. By enforcing traffic laws and requirements on seat belt use, distracted driving, drinking and driving, and teen licensing laws, police keep everyone on the road safer. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties.

  • If pulled over by the police, expect to present your driver’s license, the vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
  • If stopped as a driver or passenger, always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
  • If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, talk to your parents about it immediately afterward.

If you get a ticket or are involved in a crash, you may need to appear in court, whether you believe you were at fault or not. This is serious stuff: Judges often assess fines and suspend driving privileges for traffic offenses.

Police and courts are there when things go wrong. You and your parents can help keep things right.

  • Use a parent-teen driving agreement.
  • Keep your parents in the know about who you ride with.
  • Let your parents know when and where you’re headed.