Helpful Local Information
Driver's License Offices
All new residents who plan to drive must obtain a N.C. driver's license within 60 days. Most newcomers seek a Class C license for personal cars and small trucks. Motorcycle riders also need a motorcycle endorsement. Licensed drivers who are 16 or 17 years old must show passage of a state-approved driver education course in their former state; otherwise, they receive a temporary license. You may obtain a N.C. Level 1 permit at 15 after passing an approved driver education course. N.C. driver's licenses are valid for five years. Apply in person at a driver's license office and take the vision, sign recognition and written tests. A "Driver's Handbook" study book is available at DMV offices.
Present your current out-of-state license or two other accepted forms of ID (such as passport or birth certificate), proof of residency (utility bill, bank statement, etc.), Social Security or taxpayer ID and liability insurance from an insurer licensed in North Carolina.
A Class C license costs $2.50 per year. The motorcycle endorsement is an additional $5 cash, and you must pass a road skills test.
Motor Vehicle Registration
622E West Roosevelt Blvd.
You must register your vehicle before the reciprocity agreement between North Carolina and your former state expires (usually 30 days). Registration is renewed annually.
Present your title (unless title is held by a lien holder) and a valid registration card from your former state. If a lien holder holds your title, you must provide the lien holder's name and address on a state form for title release. You also must present proof of vehicle liability insurance that meets state standards.
Fees include $35 title fee, $20 registration fee for auto and a highway use tax that ranges up to $150 depending on the situation. Checks are acceptable with two proofs of identification. You must have a N.C. driver's license or N.C. checking account.
You also must obtain a vehicle safety inspection within 10 days of receiving your license plate. This costs $9.30 and can be done at any state-authorized inspection station. Inspection is required annually. Vehicles newer than 1976 and registered in Union County must pass a $30.00 annual emission inspection.
N.C. counties assess property taxes annually. Your car will be registered when you receive your license plate, and you'll receive a bill in about three months.
Rules of the Road
Speed limits range from 55 mph to 70 mph on interstates and from 55 mph to 65 mph on open highways. The limit is 35 mph within city limits unless otherwise posted.
Motorcyclists must wear helmets and drive with lights on at all times.
Seat belt use is mandatory for drivers and front seat passengers. Children four and younger and weighing less than 40 pounds must be restrained in a child safety seat in the back seat, if the vehicle has an active passenger side air bag and a back seat that can hold the safety seat. Passengers younger than 16 must use a seat belt or a safety seat, regardless of where they sit.
Right turn on red is permitted after a complete stop unless otherwise posted. Left turn on red is not permitted.
Driving while impaired rules (DWI) are strict. The state blood alcohol level limit is .08 percent but motorists can be charged if other drugs affect them. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment and license revocation.
You must be at least 18, a county resident for at least 30 days and a U.S. citizen to vote. Register at: the Union County Courthouse, North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (if conducting other transactions), any town hall, library branch, post office or high school in Union County. In addition, you can register on-line at www.co.union.nc.us Contact the Board of Elections at 704-283-3809 for information concerning retail establishments where you can register.