What’s the Driving Age in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, you can get behind the wheel with a learner’s permit at 14 and earn an unrestricted driver’s license by 16.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
The minimum driving age in North Dakota is 14. Once you have your learner’s permit, an unrestricted driver’s license is just two years away.
A driver’s license is handy and downright essential for others. Regardless of the reasons that drive you, you’ll have to go through the
Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) system
if you’re under 18 in North Dakota. It allows a gradual increase in driving privileges while applying restrictions to make the road safer for everybody. Before you know it, you’ll have a full driver’s license!
Read on—
Jerry
, the driving expert and
car insurance
comparison tool, is here with a guide to earning your driver’s license in North Dakota. And before we wrap up, we'll even fill you in on how to score lower
North Dakota car insurance costs
.
MORE: How to get cheap car insurance for young drivers

What’s the minimum driving age in North Dakota?

The minimum driving age in North Dakota is 14 years old, at which point you can apply for a learner’s permit. Following one year of supervised driving practice, you can apply for a restricted (minor) driver’s license, which automatically becomes an unrestricted driver’s license at age 16.
Teens between the ages of 16 and 17 also have to apply for a learner’s permit, but they can skip straight to an unrestricted driver’s license after taking their road test after six months. Those 18 years of age or older may schedule a road test to qualify for an unrestricted license immediately.
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What’s North Dakota’s Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) system?

The Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) system is part of state law in North Dakota. Since teens between 16 and 19 are
almost three times more likely
to be involved in a fatal car crash than a driver over 20, they’re subject to restrictions. Supervised driving and education all aim to reduce the dangers posed by inexperience and increased risk-taking by young drivers.
Under GDL laws, the permits and licenses issued by the
North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT)
each have their own limitations for young drivers:
  • Learner’s Permit: supervised driving with a parent, guardian, or instructor
  • Restricted (Minor) Class D Operator’s License: limited unsupervised driving during certain hours and in certain counties
  • Unrestricted (Adult) Class D Operator’s License: full, unrestricted, and unsupervised driving privileges

How to get your learner’s permit in North Dakota

It’s the big day and you’re ready to get your North Dakota learner’s permit as soon as you turn 14 years old. After making an appointment at one of the
ND Driver’s License Sites
around the state, you’ll need to follow these steps to complete your application:
  • Bring one proof of identity, one proof of Social Security Number (SSN), and one proof of address from the
    list of approved ID documents
  • Complete an application form, which includes a signature from a parent or guardian indicating that they take financial responsibility for your driving
  • Pay the $5 knowledge test fee
  • Pass the knowledge test
  • Pass the visual screen test with at least 20/40 vision in both eyes, with or without glasses
  • Pay the $15 learner’s permit fee
The knowledge test contains 25 questions about driving laws in North Dakota. After you study from the
online study guide
, you can practice the
knowledge test
online. Both written and online tests are offered in a range of languages and audio/visual accommodations. If you fail, you can retake the test the next day, but you’ll pay a $5 fee per attempt

Learner’s permit restrictions and purpose

A North Dakota learner’s permit allows you to practice
supervised driving
for one year in preparation for a road test. Your supervisor must be at least 18 years old and have held a valid driver’s license for at least three years. You’ll be limited to driving a car owned by an extended family member or a car equipped with dual controls with a licensed driving instructor.
Last but not least, drivers younger than 18 aren’t allowed to operate an electronic device (even a hands-free one) behind the wheel—period!
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How to get your restricted (minor) Class D operator’s license in North Dakota

A restricted driver’s license in North Dakota promises more freedom and less supervision, but there are a few steps to follow before you can enjoy both.
First of all, make sure it’s been at least one year since you received your learner’s permit—or that you’re now 16. You’ll also need to have a completed practice log where you’ve recorded at least 50 hours of supervised driving, which should include the following experiences:
  • Driving in rural areas
  • Driving in urban areas
  • Driving at night
  • Driving on dirt, gravel, or aggregate surface roads
  • Driving during winter conditions
The
RoadReady supervised driving program
developed by the NDDOT includes
an app
(available for iPhone or Android) where you can easily log your hours. Finally, if you were under 16 when you received your learner’s permit, you’ll need to have completed a
state-approved driver education course
before upgrading to a restricted license.
Got all that? Great! It’s time to
book your road test online
and bring the following:
  • Your learner’s permit
  • A Certificate of Training (provided by your driver education school)
  • A parent or guardian with a valid driver’s license
  • The $5 road test fee
  • The $15 license fee
  • A vehicle in good working order
  • A copy of the vehicle’s registration and proof of insurance
The road test will check your essential driving skills like obeying traffic signs, parking, and reversing. You can
waive the road test
if you completed a course from a North Dakota Driving School and present a Certificate of Course Completion. The same goes for a Student Completion Certificate, which is issued by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.
Key Takeaway To upgrade to a restricted driver’s license, bring a completed driving log, certificate of course completion, and registered and insured vehicle to a scheduled road test—good luck!

Restricted (minor) Class D operator’s license restrictions and purpose

A North Dakota restricted driver’s license is reserved for 15-year-olds who have completed a road test. You may unsupervised driving until you turn 16, with three limitations:
  • You cannot drive at night (between 9:00 PM and 5:00 AM) without a supervising adult unless driving directly to or from work, school, or religious activity
  • You’re not allowed to use electronic devices while at the wheel
  • You’re not allowed to drive a car not owned by a family member
Additionally, your license can be canceled if you accumulate
six or more points
on your driving record (by committing traffic or speeding violations) or are convicted of a drug or alcohol-related offense. You’ll have to repeat the process of applying for a learner’s permit and passing your road test, with the additional requirement of a driver education course.

When can you apply for an unrestricted (adult) driver’s license in North Dakota?

You must be at least 16 to hold an
unrestricted driver’s license
in North Dakota. If you earned a restricted driver’s license at 15, it’ll automatically transition to an unrestricted license once you meet the age requirement. Already 18 years of age or older? You may apply for a learner’s permit, then take a road test to qualify for an unrestricted license as soon as you feel ready.

Exceptions

Drivers who are 18 years of age or older may
apply for a temporary restricted license
or ignition interlock device in order to meet their medical, educational, or employment needs after license suspension or revocation. 
Unfortunately, there are no such provisions for minors in the NDDOT’s
driver’s license FAQ
. A minor whose license or permit has been canceled (see above) doesn’t qualify for a temporary restricted license or work permit.

How to save on car insurance in North Dakota

If you’re a new driver, sooner or later you’ll have to think about
car insurance
. The
Jerry
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Then there’s nothing left to do but enjoy an average of over $800 of savings per year.
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FAQs

Yes! If you applied for a learner’s permit at 14 and passed a road test at 15, you could qualify for an unrestricted North Dakota driver’s license as soon as you turn 16 years old.
Yes! You can either jump right into a learner’s permit and restricted driver’s license between the ages of 14 and 15 or apply for a learner’s permit (followed by a road test six months later) at 16. Either way, you’ll be able to drive on your own by the time you’re 17 years old.
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