New law requires teen drivers to log time behind wheel
Posted December 28, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — Young drivers who apply for learner's permits in North Carolina will have a little more paperwork to deal with, starting next week.
A state law that takes effect Sunday requires them to turn in a paper record of their driving time before they can move up to the next level of the graduated licensing system.
"The General Assembly wanted to make sure that drivers – young drivers – on our highways were getting more practice time behind the wheel, and so that was the impetus behind starting these logs," said Marge Howell, spokeswoman for the state Division of Motor Vehicles.
Fifteen- to 17-year-olds with a learner's permit will need 60 hours of supervised driving, including night driving, to get their limited license. Then they will need 12 more hours over the following six months to qualify for a full license.
North Carolina doesn't require anyone 18 or older who is getting a driver's license for the first time to go through the graduated license program.
The new law was set to take effect earlier this year, but it was postponed a few months to give the DMV time to implement the changes.
The delay was good for 17-year-old Mitchell Hintz, who got his license without having to turn in any logs. He said he would have qualified for his license even with the new requirements.
"Most kids my age probably have more than 12 (hours of driving)," he said.
Parents or guardians will have to certify the driving logs.
Howell said the logs will be scanned in and attached to the new driver's record. Cheating is not recommended, she said.
"Anytime we feel the logs are not being filled out properly, you will have to go back to step one and start over with your six months of driving," she said. "So, if you're looking to get your driver's license quickly, that is not the thing to do."
Hintz's mother said the new law might be good for some teens, but she's glad she didn't have to deal with a driving log.
"Some (young drivers) are a little more timid, but overall, most of the students are working and really not needing to" track their time behind the wheel, Missy Hintz said. "If they have (the log) in the car and stuff, (it would be easier), but to go back and log all that in (later) would be a little tough for parents."
Teens who already have their limited licenses by January 1, 2012 won't have to complete a log to get their full licenses. Teens who have their learner's permits by Jan. 1, 2012 won't have to submit a Level 2 log to get their limited license, but they will have to complete the Level 3 log before they can get their full licenses.