Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Virginia
Age Take Driver's Education and Training Apply for a Provisional Permit Attend a Licensing Ceremony Receive a License 15 ½ to Younger
X X X X 18 to Younger
X X X 19 and Older X* X* X
* Drivers 19 years of age or older must either show proof of state-approved driver education completion OR have a learner's permit for at least 30 days before applying for a license.
If you're 19 or older and getting a license for the first time, you must have either completed a state-approved driver's education program OR had a learner's permit for at least 30 days. Once you can show proof of one of those requirements, you can head to the DMV to take the road test and receive your license.
Teen Driving Program
In order to reduce driving-related deaths among teens, the state of Virginia has instituted a number of limitations and requirements for teens getting their licenses for the first time. According to these new statutes, teens from the age of 15 1/2 to 18 must:
- Apply for a learner's permit at a local DMV office.
- Complete a state-approved driver's education program.
- Log 45 hours of driving practice with a parent or guardian.
- Have a learner's permit for at least nine months.
- Receive a driver's license at the licensing ceremony.
You can take a driver's education course either through a private instruction company or a public school program anywhere in the state, as long as the course is approved by the Department of Education.
All state-approved courses include 36 classroom sessions, which cover the basic rules of the road as well as other topics like alcohol and drug abuse awareness and aggressive driving. The course also includes 14 in-vehicle sessions, which typically mean seven sessions of driving and seven sessions of observing. The driving instructor will administer your official road test as part of the state-approved course.
When you complete the course, your instructor will forward a copy of your certificate on to the DMV, where it stay on record.
New to the State
If you are new to the state and already have a learner's permit from your previous state of residence―one that you had to take a driver's education course to obtain―you may be able to trade it in for a Virginia permit without taking another driver's education course, as long as the course you took out of state is similar to Virginia's state-approved programs and offered 30 classroom hours and six in-vehicle hours.
You'll need your provisional permit, or learner's permit, before you can take the in-vehicle portion of the driver's education course. All first-time drivers under the age of 19 must have a learner's permit for at least nine months before they can receive a permanent license.
- Try out a few practice tests online to make sure you know the rules of the road and basic road signs.
- Have proof of identification, legal presence, residency, and your Social Security number.
- Be prepared to pass the vision test.
- Be ready to pass the two-part knowledge test. The first part tests your familiarity with traffic signs, and you must get all ten traffic sign questions right to move on to the second part. The next part tests your general knowledge of the rules of the road, and you must score at least 80% to pass. If you fail, don't worry! You can take the knowledge test up to three times, waiting 15 days in between each time. If you still haven't passed it, you'll need to wait until you've completed the driver's education course before taking it again.
- Have the appropriate fees for your permit and license. The permit is $3 and the license is $4 per year. You can choose to purchase a license valid for three to eight years.
- Visit your local DMV office to apply for your permit. The application (Form DL1P) will serve as application for both your permit and your license. Make sure your bring a parent or guardian to sign the application with you.
Provisional Permit Driving Restrictions
As part of teen driving program, the following restrictions apply:
- You must always drive with a licensed driver 21 years of age or older, and the licensed driver must be seated next to you. The only exception is for family members―a licensed family member 18 years or older is qualified to be your driving companion.
- Besides immediate family members, you cannot carry more than one passenger under the age of 18.
- You may not drive at all between midnight to 4 A.M.
Before you can get your permanent license, state law requires that you have at least 45 hours of driving time with a parent or guardian. Fifteen of your practice hours must be completed after sunset.
Typically, you'll receive an official form to log your practice hours from your driver's education instructor. The driving instructor cannot send your completion certificate in to the DMV until you have completed your additional 45 hours of practice driving outside class.
If you're 19 or older, you are not required to log these practice hours.
To receive your permanent license, you must:
- Be at least 16 years and 3 months.
- Have held a learner's permit for at least nine months.
Read below for the final steps to getting your license.
1) Await Court Notice
This phase of the process is simply a waiting game. You had to pass the vision and knowledge tests, complete an application, and pay your license fees when you applied for your learner's permit―and you had to pass your road test to complete your driver's education course. The hard part is over for you.
At this point, it's up to your local juvenile and domestic relations court to send you a notice about your licensing ceremony. You should receive your notice around the time you meet both conditions listed above, and the notice will include a date for your ceremony.
2) Attend a Licensing Ceremony
State law requires all new drivers under 18 to attend a licensing ceremony at their local juvenile and licensing court. If you have not received a notice and you've had your permit for nine months and you've reached the age of 16 and three months, contact your local court.
You must attend the ceremony with your parent or legal guardian, and you will receive your permanent license at that time.
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