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Frequently Asked Driving Eligibility Certificate Questions

BACKGROUND:

The term "driving eligibility certificate" (also known as "DEC") refers to the official State of North Carolina school form required only of North Carolina drivers who are under age 18.  One is required of each person under age 18 who does not yet possess a high school diploma but wishes to obtain/retain a North Carolina driver's permit/license.  North Carolina does not permit persons under age 18 to drive unless they are: 

  1. Currently enrolled in and regularly attending a North Carolina school; or enrolled in and physically attending an out-of-state boarding or an out-of-state day school;: and,
  2. Are making academic progress in that school toward graduation. and have not been suspended from that school for more than ten days for possessing an illegal substance on the school campus; possessing a firearm or weapon on the school campus; or, assaulting a school staff member. 

The DEC form is used to indicate whether or not a North Carolina high school student is meeting the two above requirements.  

Persons under age 18 not yet possessing a high school diploma must be issued a DEC by the principal of the NC school in which he/she is currently enrolled and regularly attending.

The North Carolina DMV offices statewide will accept NO substitutes for it.  DNPE supplies DEC forms only to conventional K-12 non-public as well as home schools operating within NC's geographical borders which meet all legal requirements for such schools.  The DEC form is required in addition to the official State of North Carolina Driver Education course completion certificate which indicates that the student has successfully completed a State of North Carolina approved student driver education course of study. 

The questions and answers which follow will provide additional information concerning drivers under age 18.

Correspondence, Internet-Based or Other Distance Learning Program Enrollees -- How do they obtain a NC DEC?

High school students under age 18 currently living at home in North Carolina but (in lieu of conventional school attendance) taking courses toward a high school diploma through a distance learning program, can obtain a DEC only through the chief administrator of the North Carolina home school in which the student is currently enrolled. 

In order for that parent/guardian to obtain one to issue to the student, the North Carolina home school must be currently registered with the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education for at least the past six consecutive calendar months and be currently meeting all North Carolina laws governing the operation of the home school. 

In completing the Notice of Intent for a home school, the parent must give his/her own name as owner, chief administrator and provider as well as his/her US Postal Service and e-mail addresses and telephone number for the home school - not for the distance learning program. 

On the form, do not list any information about the distance learning program in which the student is also enrolled. 

If you are considering enrolling your child in a distance learning program, it is suggested that you first read and then share a copy of this DNPE June, 2001 letter with that distance learning program. 

Costs, North Carolina License Restoration -- Are there any involved in re-instating a revoked license?

Yes.  Contact the local North Carolina DMV office to find out the exact current State of North Carolina license re-instatement fee. 

Also, there is always a possibility that the student may incur an increase in his/her next automobile insurance premium.  The DEC form itself is always available free from the chief administrator of the North Carolina non-public school in which the student is currently enrolled.

Emancipated Minors -- Does this DEC law apply to them?

Yes.

Fax Driving Eligibility Certificates?

No.  The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles accepts only original official State of North Carolina Driving Eligibility Certificate (DEC) forms which have been properly imprinted, completed and signed. 

No facsimiles are accepted.

Hardships -- Are they permanent?

Yes.  Hardships should only be granted under extreme circumstances.  Once a student has been granted a hardship, however, his/her driver's license should not be revoked again.

Hardships -- Can a state government agency such as the NC DNPE, NC DMV, NC DPI or the NC Department of Community Colleges grant them?

No.  Hardships can be granted only by the chief administrator (or his/her designee) of the North Carolina school in which the student is currently enrolled.

Hardships -- Can students be moved up earlier to the next licensing level?

No.

How to order?

If you are the chief administrator of a North Carolina non-public school (home or conventional) which has been registered with DNPE for at least the last six calendar months and meets all current North Carolina requirements for such a school, click here to order DECs.

After this information has been electronically recorded, the DECs will then be mailed via US mail within 48 hours, unless it was recorded during the weekend or on a state holiday

There is no DEC financial cost involved.

Laws, Rules & Procedures:

Before a North Carolina non-public school (home or conventional) may order a North Carolina Driving Eligibility Certificate (DEC) for its students, a currently valid Notice of Intent must have already been on file at DNPE for at least six consecutive calendar months preceding the order date. 

For further information, click here.

License, Levels of North Carolina Driver's:

For information about the North Carolina laws governing drivers under age 18, click here.

Needed before taking the driver education course?

No.  The student must first successfully complete a State of North Carolina approved Driver Education course and receive the North Carolina Driver Education completion certificate. 

After that is completed, the student obtains his/her official State of North Carolina Driving Eligibility Certificate (DEC) from the principal of the North Carolina school in which the student is currently enrolled. 

When the under age 18 student is ready to go to the local North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles office to obtain his/her driver's permit/license, the student must present to DMV the student's birth certificate, the official State of North Carolina Driver Education course completion certificate, the official State of North Carolina Driving Eligibility Certificate and his/her social security number. 

Never order a DEC more than 30 days ahead of the date of the student's visit to the local DMV office to obtain his/her driver's permit/license. 

Number Needed Per Student:

Only one DEC is needed for each student. 

Additional ones are not required as the student moves up through the various license levels.  A second DEC would be needed only after the student's license was revoked.

Ordering -- How long should a school wait after placing a DEC order before calling DNPE to check if it has been mailed yet? 

At least seven days from the date the order was received by DNPE. 

The processing of orders are usually completed and the order placed into the US Postal Service system within 48 hours (excluding weekends and state holidays) after receipt of the order by DNPE.

Out-of-State School Attendance -- From whom do students who live in North Carolina but attend out-of-state boarding schools; out-of-state conventional day schools; or, out-of-state military base conventional schools obtain a NC DEC?

A student who has permanent residency in North Carolina but attends such out-of-state schools shall receive his/her DEC from the North Carolina public high school which he/she would otherwise be attending. 

That North Carolina public high school may ask for the following documentation: 

  1. Proof of residency within the school's district;
  2. A letter on the out-of-state school's letterhead stating that the student is "currently enrolled in this school" and that he/she is "making academic progress toward high school graduation";
  3. A transcript/report card indicating the latest semester grades earned in the out-of-state school;
  4. A transcript/report card at the end of each semester thereafter until the student has graduated from high school (or reaches his/her 18th birthday) - making sure the student understands that he/she will lose all North Carolina driving privileges if this is not presented at the end of each semester or is in violation of the DEC laws.

Pick up DEC at the DNPE office?

Only school chief administrators may stop by the DNPE office to pick them up. 

However, the DNPE staff members who issue them to school administrators may be out of the office that day visiting schools.  Consequently, it is strongly suggested that school administrators always call at least a day ahead to make certain that a DEC can be made available for pickup on the preferred day. 

Under no circumstances are students permitted to pick them up. 

A reminder that the non-public school (both home and conventional types) must already have on file with DNPE a currently valid Notice of Intent for at least six consecutive calendar months prior to the pickup date.

Public Schools -- Are public schools allowed to revoke non-public school student driver's licenses?

No.  Conventional non-public or home schools located within the State of North Carolina wishing to have a student driver's license revoked must contact the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education.

Public Schools -- May public schools share a DEC with other schools?

No.  North Carolina public schools are not permitted to share Driving Eligibility Certificates with conventional non-public schools operating within North Carolina's geographical borders, home schools, community colleges or even other public schools.

Public Schools -- To whom can North Carolina public schools issue a DEC?

Only to students who are currently enrolled in that public school. 

Public schools may not issue a DEC to a student who currently attends or is enrolled in a conventional non-public school within North Carolina, a home school, community college or an out-of-state correspondence or other distance learning program.

Sending Revocation Information -- When should a non-public school send information to DNPE about student driver's licenses to be revoked?

A school should wait (before sending the information) for a brief reasonable time period to receive any hardship requests after notifying parents of the student's forthcoming license revocation. 

It is imperative, however, that non-public schools send their revocation recommendations to DNPE immediately following the 30 day grace period post withdrawal.

Should I keep my 15 year old student enrolled in a conventional school until after he/she has acquired a North Carolina drivers permit rather than removing him/her now into a home school setting?

Yes.  Home school administrators cannot order driving eligibility certificates for their students until the home school has been registered with DNPE for at least six calendar months preceding the date of the ordering of a DEC. 

A new DEC is not needed when a student transfers from a conventional school into a home school unless the student was failing some subjects or was involved in some type of disciplinary problem for which the DEC was revoked by the conventional school. 

In withdrawing the student from a conventional school, always be certain that the school classifies the student withdrawal as a "transfer" rather than a "dropout." 

If the student withdrawal is classified as a "dropout," the DEC will be revoked by the conventional school.

Summer School -- How does it affect students who lose their license?

At the end of the school year (once final grades are posted), non-public schools should send DNPE their license revocation recommendations. 

At the conclusion of summer school, those students eligible may then receive a DEC from their North Carolina non-public school principal in order to have their license re-instated. 

Schools should not wait until summer school is over to turn in the names of students not making progress toward high school graduation.

Transfers Between Schools -- What happens when a student leaves a conventional non-public school to attend a home school, public school or a local Community College?

If the student is NOT making adequate progress toward high school graduation at the point of withdrawal, the conventional non-public school should have the student's driving privileges revoked (even when transferring in to a home school setting).  

If the student IS making adequate progress, the non-public school should not revoke that student's driving privileges -- provided it is certain that the student has indeed already been enrolled in another legal school.

What is meant in section 2 of the DEC form by "This certificate expires 30 days from the above issue date?

Once the non-public school official has completed Section 2 of the DEC form (also see next question) and placed his/her signature there as well as entered the issue date (when the form was given to the student), the form will be accepted by the North Carolina DMV only within the next 30 days from that date.

Who signs the DEC form on the line in the bottom left corner labeled "Signature of School Official?

Conventional non-public schools must first have the parent/guardian read, complete and sign Section 1 in the upper half of the form, which includes the parent/guardian's signature and date. 

Section 2 of the DEC form (including the Signature of School Official line) is then to be completed by the school's chief administrator (or his/her designee).  For students enrolled in home schools, the parent/guardian completes section 1 of the form. 

Section 2 of the form must be completed (including the Signature of School Official line) by the chief administrator of the home school who is usually the parent/guardian. 

On the Name of School/Agency line, home school administrators will enter the name of the home school as it appears in the DNPE home school database. 

G.S. 115C-563(a) states that home schools are non-public schools.

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