How to Get a Virginia Driver’s License
Virginia has a Graduated Driver License program, or GDL, that will give you time to learn how to drive in a controlled way. There are three stages to this program, from no license to full license.
Completing the Virginia GDL will take a couple of years. At 15 and 6 months you can get your learner’s permit. Hold it for 6 months to apply for your provisional license. Drive with it for until your 18 and you’ll be eligible for your full, unrestricted license.
The steps below have the details you’ll need to know to get your full, unrestricted Virginia driver’s license.
Get your Virginia Learner’s Permit
You can start the process to get your Virginia driver’s license at 15 years and 6 months old. To get ready for driving, you can download the Virginia Driver’s Manual and start reading through it. At your local driver’s license office, you’ll need to fill out an Application for a Virginia Driver’s License, bring in proof of identity, and pay a fee of $3 by debit card or check.
You will be required to take a vision exam, be sure to bring any needed vision correction, and a written knowledge test.
You can head to the Virginia DMV to take a few practice tests before exam day.
If you fail the knowledge test you will be allowed to retake it twice more. You should note, however, that if you fail the Virginia learner’s permit knowledge exam 3 times, you will have to complete at least the knowledge portion of a Virginia DMV approved driver education course before you will be allowed to take it for a 4th time.
If you have already completed this portion of driver education before you fail your third time, you will have to complete an 8-hour Driver’s Manual Course, either online or in person, before taking your permit test for the 4th time.
Once you’ve passed, you will be given an official paper which is your Virginia learner’s permit. You’ll need to have that with you every time you’re behind the wheel.
When you’re ready to enroll in driver education, find a driving school to get started.
You must have your permit for at least 9 months before you can apply for a regular license. During that time, you’ll need to have 45 hours of driving practice with 15 of those being at night. You are only allowed to drive while accompanied by a licensed driver that’s at least 21 years old. They may be as young as 18 if they are your parent, guardian, or immediate family member, if they’re licensed.
This is the point also where you’ll need to get driving instruction. If you are under 18, Virginia requires you to enroll in driver education. To learn more about your options visit Virginia Area Driving Schools. Drivers’ education consists of 30 hours of classroom instruction and 12 hours behind the wheel. Once you’ve completed the required amount of instruction, you can apply for your driver’s license.
Get your Virginia provisional driver’s license
Receiving your license requires that you’ve completed certain requirements. If you’ve reached 16 years and 3 months of age, have held your learner’s permit for at least 9 months, and have completed driver’s education and your required supervised driving time, you are eligible to apply for your driver’s license.
You’ll need to go back to the Virginia DMV with all the same documents that were required for your learner’s permit.
Schedule your road test. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for providing the vehicle you’ll be tested in. It must be registered, insured, and in good working order.
Driving Skills Test: You will be required to pass a driving test with an evaluator who will make sure you can perform basic driving tasks safely.
Before you take it, you should check out the Top 10 Automatic Fails on Driver Tests, so you’ll know what not to do on test day.
With study and practice you should have no problem passing your road test, but if you fail, you’re looking at the same situation as failing your permit exam. You are allowed to additional attempts, before you will have to
The application fee for your Virginia provisional license is $4 per year for a minimum of 2 years.
Your license will be mailed to you and will have your photograph on it. They take your picture the day you pass your driving skills test. This license will come with the following restrictions:
- You will only be allowed one passenger under the age of 21 unless you are with a parent, guardian, or another adult
- After a year of holding your VA provisional license, you’ll be allowed up to 3 adult passengers if supervised or in an emergency.
As you continue to learn how to operate a motor vehicle in different conditions, there are certain hours when you won’t be able to drive. Those are midnight to 4:00 A.M. There are exceptions to this rule:
- Traveling to or from work, a school sponsored event, or religious or community activity
- An emergency
While under that supervision of a parent or guardian, or another adult over 18
Get your full unrestricted Virginia driver’s license
At a certain point, the state feels that you’ve been able to receive enough supervised driving experience that you can go out on your own. Therefore, once you reach you can get your full license.
This means that previous restrictions are lifted. However, you will not receive an updated license until that one expires. After you renew your license, you will receive your full, unrestricted license in the mail.
Whether you’ve just finished your Virginia graduated licensing process, or are just starting out, you might also want to consider a telematic companion application to better understand your driving habits, and how to improve them.
The best option is the DriverZ Virtual Coach. Download it today to sharpen your S.P.I.D.E.R.Senses™ to build the driving skills that will keep you safe for a lifetime, track your supervised driving hours, and access bespoke driver training based on your specific needs.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some other details which are good to know as you start out on your VA graduated licensing journey.
Can I drive in Virginia with an out-of-state learner’s permit?
Yes. You may drive with an out-of-state learner’s permit in Virginia, but you will have to follow all rules and restrictions issued by your home state. Additionally, you will always have to be accompanied by a licensed driver 21 years or older in the front passenger seat while driving.
What is the 45-hour Parent/Teen Driving Guide?
The 45-hour Parent/Teen Driving Guide is a free, comprehensive informational booklet covering everything a parent and their teen driver need to know during the GDL process. Emphasis is placed on the pivotal role of a parent in their child’s safe driving success. Check it out before you begin your learning process.
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles information
For comprehensive information on everything related to the Virginia graduated licensing program, visit the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles You can also call 1804-828-1120 Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
Prepare for your license journey by reviewing the Virginia Driver’s Manual, and taking a few practice tests.