Driving or Owning a Car

Cars are the most common form of transportation in Minot, but they are also a big responsibility. Avoid trouble by observing several rules for owning and driving a car.

  • Car insurance is required in North Dakota.
  • Never drink alcohol and drive; even if you do not have an accident, you may go to jail.
  • Lock your car at all times and keep valuables out of sight.
  • Keep cars in good operating condition.
  • Keep safety equipment (e.g. a flashlight and reflectors, warm blankets, extra winter clothing, emergency food, and a first aid kit in the trunk).
  • Obey all speed limits.
  • Report all accidents; failure to do so is a crime.

Driver’s License:

You are allowed to drive vehicles in the state of North Dakota as long as you have a current license in your home country or an international driver’s license. If you wish to purchase or rent a vehicle, you will find that it is easier with a license from North Dakota or another state in the U.S.

To obtain a North Dakota driver’s license, you must visit the Minot branch of the North Dakota State Department of Transportation at Arrowhead Shopping Center, 1600 2nd Avenue Southwest, or call them at 701-857-7624. You must pass a written test, and eyesight test, and a driving test (also called a road test). No appointment is required to take the written test,  however, you must make an appointment for the road test. To apply for a driver’s license you must present your passport, I-20 or DS-2019, your current driver’s license (if you have one), and the required fee. The written test is $5.00 and the road test is $5.00. You must surrender your current license to obtain a North Dakota driver’s license. You can find driver license requirements here, and proof of identification requirements here.

It is highly advisable to study for your written test and practice for the road test. You will need to obtain an instruction permit in order to practice for your road test if you do not possess an international driver’s license or a driver’s license from your home country. The instruction permit is $15.00. Study booklets are available at the Department of Transportation Office listed above.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has sole authority over renewing your driver's license. Keep in mind that you cannot renew your driver's license after your program end date on your I-20, while your OPT application is pending after graduation, or after your EAD card expires if you are OPT. Contact the DMV directly with any questions you have about renewing your driver's license. The Office of International Programs cannot provide any documentation beyond your I-20 for renewing your license.

More information can be found on the North Dakota Department of Transportation website.

Automobile Registration:

If you buy a car, you must register it at the Vehicle branch of the North Dakota State Department of Transportation at Arrowhead Shopping Center. Requirements for registering a car vary, depending on whether the car is new or used and the age of the car. To find out what you have to do to register a particular car, call 701-857-8221. Once you have registered your car, you will receive a registration card. You must keep this card in your vehicle at all times.

Automobile Insurance:

The State of North Dakota requires all owners of a vehicle to have automobile insurance. It is essential to have at least liability insurance. The minimum fine for operating an uninsured motor vehicle is $150.00. To locate the most appropriate insurance for your car, look in the yellow pages of the telephone director under “insurance.” Unless a friend can recommend a reliable agent to you, you should talk to at least two agents about your insurance needs. Rates vary from company to company, and they depend on the value of the car, the amount it is driven, the age of the drivers, and the past driving records of the drivers. You must carry proof of insurance (insurance card) in your car at all times in case of an accident.

Police Issues:

While it is okay to tell a police/security officer your opinion, it is not wise to argue with them. Never put your hands on an officer, it is a violation. Attempting to bribe a police officer is a serious offense and will result in arrest.

If you are driving and a police officer follows you with flashing blue and red lights, take the following actions:

  • Pull over on the right hand side of the road immediately and stop your car. Be calm.
  • Do not get out of the car.
  • Turn off the radio, and turn on the interior light if it is evening.
  • Immediately get out your driver’s license, car registration, and car insurance.
  • Roll down the driver’s side window.
  • Place both hands on the steering wheel where the police officer can see them. Do not reach for anything or make any sudden moves.
  • Be polite and do not argue with the police, but feel free to ask questions.
  • Answer the officer’s questions directly, or explain that you choose to remain silent.
  • Do not attempt to offer money to the officer. This will cause you more trouble!
  • Before you leave, say the following: "Officer, am I free to go?"
  • Do not resist arrest. If you are arrested, you have the right to an attorney although you will need to provide an attorney yourself.
  • Document everything that occurred for future reference.

Generally, unless the crime is extremely serious, it will not directly affect your F-1 status. Usually, the act that affects F-1 status is if you are suspended from MSU because of the crime. If you are suspended or otherwise unable to attend classes, that is what triggers the termination of F-1 status. Any student in this situation should hire a lawyer. Having a criminal record might affect other aspects of the your life, including border crossing. The Office of International Programs does not investigate students, and you do not need to report information about a criminal record to us. If the crime is minor, you will usually continue to attend classes.

Last Updated October 5, 2016