Licensing & State Laws

North Dakota’s licensing process allows teens to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations, easing them into driving over an extended period of time. The learner’s permit and restricted license stages are key steps.

Learner’s Permit

After turning 14, your teen may apply for a learner’s permit with the written consent of a parent or legal guardian. Upon passing a written test and a vision test, the teen will be issued a learner’s permit.

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

Your teen 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, your teen is eligible for a full, unrestricted operator’s license if he or she has met all requirements of the permit phase.

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 emergencies. Everyone, regardless of age, is prohibited from reading, composing, or sending text messages or accessing the Internet while driving.

A parent-teen driving agreement can help you enforce licensing rules that the state and your family set. An agreement helps you and your teen understand the rules of the road and sends a clear message that driving is an earned privilege that your family takes seriously.

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 a driver’s license can be performed at DOT facilities. Please note that teen applicants must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to take the road test.

Be sure to check in advance for locations, hours, fees, plus acceptable forms of identification your teen will need to present when applying for each stage of licensing. Study materials to help your teen get ready for the exams are also available. Keep in mind that as a parent or legal guardian, North Dakota law authorizes you to withdraw consent to drive for your teen driver under age 18. This procedure begins with a notarized letter to the North Dakota DOT.

State and local police enforce traffic laws and investigate crashes. Remind your teen that police can and will enforce all requirements on seat belt use, drinking and driving and other laws. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties. Talk to your teen about these and other consequences, and explain what to do if stopped by police.

  • If stopped by the police, teens should expect to present a valid license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
  • If stopped as a driver or passenger, teens should always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
  • If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, teens should talk to their parents about it, because this can create a learning experience.

If your teen gets a ticket or is involved in a crash, it could lead to a court appearance. Judges deal seriously and directly with teen traffic violations. They can assess fines and suspend driving privileges for traffic offenses—even for a first offense.