You'll hear this time and time again, but remember, driving is a privilege, not a right. When you're behind the wheel, it's important for first-time drivers to remember how many people are trusting you to drive responsibly. Having said that, let's go over the steps to take in order to get your West Virginia driver's license, before you head out to your local West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles office.
Applying for the First Time
You can obtain your learner's permit when you're 15, but you must be 16 to get your license, and have held the permit for 180 infraction-free days. Taking a driver education course is optional, but it can help make you a better driver.
Once you are of age to obtain your driver's license, it's a good idea to take a practice test first. It's also a wise decision to pick up a copy of the "Safe Driving Handbook" at your local DMV office.
When you're ready to apply for your license, you'll need to remember:
- To take your certified birth certificate.
- To take your Social Security card.
- To take two proofs of West Virginia residency.
- To take your valid school enrollment form (if you're younger than 18 and applying for a instruction permit or license).
- If for any reason you've changed your name along the way, you'll need to provide proof such as an original or certified copy of a certified marriage license, divorce decree, or court order.
- If you already have your driver's license from another state and have just moved to West Virginia, you'll need to present your license from your old state and provide a certified driving record, too.
For more specific information regarding obtaining your West Virginia driver's license for the first time, including handbooks, application forms, exam locations, practice tests, and scheduling tests, visit WVDOT Driver's License Information.
Ready to start driving?
Take these tips into consideration.
- Always wear your seat belt. You can make your passengers buckle up, too. You're the one driving, right?
- Before you begin to drive, check your seat adjustment, headrest adjustment, and mirror adjustments, and make sure your windshield is clean. You may also want to make sure your car has enough gas in it before you take off.
- Never try to cram too many people into your vehicle. Sure, your best friend and her two cousins may need a ride to the game, but once you run out of available seat belts, that's it.
- Get complete directions when driving to an unfamiliar place.
- Always obey the speed limits. Speeding along above the limit doesn't make you look cool. It makes you look as if you have a death wish. And if your neighbors see you? That's right; Mom and Dad can take your license.
- Always follow the color rules: Green means go (after you've made sure the intersection is clear), yellow means slow to a stop (it's not your signal to speed up and beat the red light), and red means stop. Period.
- Use turn signals to indicate your intention to turn or to change lanes. Always check your rearview mirror to make sure the next lane is clear before you move into it.
- Don't blast the radio. You might be dying to jam that new CD, but in the meantime you could also miss hearing a siren or a horn that could warn you of possible danger.
- Carry a cell phone, calling card, or some extra change for a payphone with you. You never know when you're going to have car trouble or possibly an accident. It's also a good idea to keep some extra gas money stowed away, too.
- Never talk on the phone, put on makeup, fix your hair, or eat while driving. If it's that important, pull off the road.
- Be on the lookout for pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists.
- Maintain your car. This means using good quality tires and making sure they are inflated to the right pressure (check your owner's manual for what is right for your tires and car), regularly checking or changing your oil, staying full of windshield washer fluid, and paying attention to any odd noises or feelings as you're driving. Unless you're an auto whiz, everything else can be left up to Dad or Jiffy Lube.
- Pay attention to the weather and driving conditions and drive accordingly. Remember, night and rain aren't the only conditions for using headlights; using them during the day helps other drivers see you. If your car has been parked outside during a snow storm, or you've backed into a snow bank, check the exhaust pipes to make sure they are clear before starting up the car. If your pipes are clogged, it's possible to die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Never, ever, under any circumstances, get into a vehicle with a person who has been drinking or using drugs. Never, ever, under any circumstances, attempt to drive your own vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Get another sober driver or call your parents.
- Lastly, don't drive like you own the road, because you don't. Drive like you own the car. And your life.