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Frequently Asked Questions - Virginia Teen Driver

The State of Virginia has the following requirements to obtain a driver license:

Driver License
• You must be at least 16 years and 3 months of age.
• You must have held a learner’s permit for at least nine months.
• You must have held a learner’s permit for at least 30 days before taking the road skills test.
• You must attend a licensing ceremony at a local juvenile and licensing court with your parent or legal guardian.
• Your parent or guardian must certify that you have received at least 45 hours of practice driving, 15 of which must have been completed after sunset.
• Your parent or guardian must sign the application if you are under 18 years of age unless you are married or are an emancipated minor.
• You must have a Certificate of Completion from a driver’s education program if you are under 19 or 19 and older who has never been licensed before.
• You must pay the license fee of $32 for an eight-year license or $4 for a one-year license.

All drivers in the State of Virginia are banned from text messaging while operating a motor vehicle. This is a secondary offense, which means that law enforcement officers must have another reason to stop you. The penalties include the following:

• A fine of $20 for the first offense
• A fine of $50 the second and each subsequent offense

School bus drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone or text messaging while operating the vehicle. This is a primary offense, which means that officers stop and ticket the driver when observing a violation.

The State of Virginia requires drivers to pass the following tests:

Two-Part Knowledge Exam
• You will need to take the knowledge exam if you do not have a valid driver’s license from another U.S. state, Canada, Germany or France. The exam is given on a computer and tests your knowledge about traffic signs, motor vehicle laws and safe driving. All questions are taken from information found in the Virginia Driver’s Manual. You must correctly answer all ten traffic sign questions in part one of the exam before you can take part two. Part two tests your general knowledge with multiple-choice questions. You must answer at least 80 percent of the questions correctly to pass part two.

If you fail the exam and you must do the following:

Applicants Under Age 18
You must wait a full 15 days before you can retake the exam.

Applicants Age 18 or Older
You must pay a $2.00 fee if you retake the exam within 15 days.

The exam is also available in Spanish and audio format. If you fail the knowledge exam three times, you cannot take it a fourth time until you complete and pass the classroom part of a driver education program through a driver training school approved by the DMV or the Department of Education. The completion date for the classroom part must be after the date you failed the knowledge exam the third time. Once you give DMV your Certificate of Completion, you can take the knowledge exam again.

Vision Screening
• Unrestricted License
The screening shows whether your vision meets Virginia’s standards to safely drive. You must have 20/40 or better vision in one or both eyes and 100 degrees or better, horizontal vision in one or both eyes or comparable measurement that shows a field of vision within this range.

• Restricted to Daylight Hours Only
20/70 or better vision in one or both eyes
70 degrees or better horizontal vision

If you have vision in only one eye, you must have horizontal vision of at least 30 degrees or better when looking toward your nose and 40 degrees or better when looking toward your temple or comparable measurement that shows a field of vision within this range. If you need to wear glasses or contact lenses to pass the vision test, you must wear them when driving. If you fail the vision screening, you may be asked to visit an eye care professional.

Road Skills Test
• You will need to take the knowledge exam if you do not have a valid driver’s license from another U.S. state, Canada, Germany or France. You must provide a vehicle for the road skills test. The vehicle must have a valid safety inspection sticker, license plates, registration card and decals, working brakes, safety belts, horn, lights, turn signals, mirrors and speedometer.

Applicants Under 19
The road skills test will be given as part of the driver education course taken at a public, private or commercial driving school. If you are home schooled, refer to the Home-Schooled In-Car Driver Education Information Sheet (HS 3) for more information.

Applicants 19 or Older
The road skills test will be given by a DMV staff member. Only the applicant and the DMV staff member are allowed in the vehicle during the test. The test may be taken only once per business day. If you fail the road skills test three times, you cannot take it a fourth time until you complete and pass the in-vehicle part of a driver education program through a driver training school approved by the DMV or the Department of Education. The in-vehicle part must be after the date you failed the road test the third time. Once you give DMV your Certificate of Completion, you can take the road skills test again.

The State of Virginia requires all residents under the age of 19 and those over 19 who have never been licensed to complete a state-approved driver’s education program, which includes the following:

• 36 hours of classroom instruction including
• 7 hours of behind-the-wheel driving
• 7 hours of observing another student behind-the-wheel

The course must be taken at a private or public driver training school or at a home-schooled program approved by the school division superintendent.

The Virginia Department DMV requires applicants to provide proof of identity, legal presence, Virginia residency and Social Security number (if you have been issued one) by submitting the following documents:

Proof of Identity Documents
Primary Documents (Two documents are required)
• Official birth document issued by a U.S. state, territory or jurisdiction. (Documents issued from a hospital, notifications of birth registration and foreign birth certificates are not accepted).
• Unexpired or expired U.S. passport of U.S. passport card (Temporary passports are not accepted).
• Unexpired Employment Authorization Document (I-766)
• Unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired or expired visa and I-94
• Unexpired foreign passport with an I-94W or an I-551 stamp
• Unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired or expired U.S. Immigrant visa
• Unexpired passport from Canada or Micronesia with an unexpired or expired I-94
• Resident Alien Card, Permanent Resident Card or Northern Marianas Card (I-551) unexpired or expired for not more than one year (Conditional resident aliens see next bullet).
• Unexpired Permanent Resident Card (I-551) valid for two years issued to a conditional resident alien
• Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240)
• Certification of Report of Birth of a U.S. Citizen (DS-1350)
• U.S. Certificate of Naturalization
• U.S. Certificate of Citizenship
• U.S. Citizen Identification Card (I-179 or I-197)
• Virginia DMV-issued driver's license, commercial driver's license, or learner's permit unexpired or expired for not more than one year
• Unexpired U.S. issued (issued by a U.S. state [other than Virginia], jurisdiction, or territory), or a Canadian driver's license, commercial driver's license, or learner's permit with photo. The license or learner's permit must be at least 60 days old. (Other foreign country and international driver's license are not accepted).
• Virginia DMV-issued ID card that has been exchanged for a Virginia Driver's license or Commercial Driver’s License through Driver's License Central Issue (exchanged on or after March 24, 2009).
• Unexpired photo ID card, at least 60 days old, issued by a U.S. state (other than Virginia), jurisdiction or territory. (School employee ID cards and Native American citizenship cards and not accepted).
• Unexpired U.S. Active Duty/Retiree/Reservist Military ID Card (DD-2 or Common Access Card). Military dependent ID cards are not acceptable primary documents.
• Unexpired Refugee Travel Document (I-571)
• Unexpired Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC)
• Asylees may present documentation from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service or U.S. Immigration Court indicating that asylum has been granted (verification is required).
• Applicants for asylum may present an application for asylum along with documentation from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service or U.S. Immigration Court indicating receipt of the application (verification is required).
• Canal Zone Government Certificate of Live Birth (Panama Canal Zone) issued prior to October 1, 1979 when presented with proof of the holders' parent(s) U.S. citizenship at the time of the birth

Proof of Identity
Secondary Documents (One document from primary and one from secondary list)
• Any primary document marked with “>>” symbol that is unexpired or expired
• Virginia DMV-issued driver’s license, commercial driver’s license or learner’s permit unexpired or expired for not more than five years (issued on or after September 21, 2001).
• Virginia DMV-issued ID card, unexpired or expired for not more than five years (issued on of after September 21, 2001).
• Marriage certificate issued by a U.S. state, jurisdiction, territory or municipality
• Medicare or Medicaid Card
• Unexpired military dependent ID card with photo
• U.S. Military discharge papers
• U.S. Selective Service Card
• Veterans Universal Access Identification Card
• Social Security Card (the name on the card must match the name in DMV records).
• Certified copy of school records or transcript issued by a school accredited by a U.S. state, jurisdiction or territory (A report card is not accepted).
• Virginia Department of Education Certificate of Enrollment form
• USCIS form I-797 displaying applicant’s name (Depending on the nature and purpose of the form, the I-797 may not be accepted).
• U.S. Department of State form DS-2019 (Applicant’s name must appear on the form).
• USCIS student or dependent SEVIS I-20 with or without USCIS stamp (Applicant’s name must appear on the form).
• U.S. Federal Agency Employer ID Card with applicant’s name and photo
• Virginia Department of Corrections Offender Information Report
• United States Probation Offender Information form
• Court order for adoption, name change or gender change from a U.S. state, jurisdiction or territory. Must contain court seal. (Abstracts of criminal or civil convictions are not accepted).
• Virginia-issued court order for restricted driving privileges (Must include signature of court official).
• Authorization for Parole of an Alien into the U.S. (I-512L)
• Unexpired weapons or gun permit issued by federal, state or municipal government
• Unexpired U.S. pilot’s license
• Unexpired welfare/social services identification card with photo, issued by a municipality
• Unexpired U.S. Customer and Border Protection FAST card

Proof of Virginia Residency
• Original documents must show your name and the address of your current Virginia residence as it appears on the application. You must give a street address. A post office box or business address is not acceptable.

If you do not want your address of residence to appear on your driver’s license or ID card, you may request that an alternate mailing address be displayed. This address must also be in Virginia and must be an address where you currently receive mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. If you change your residence or alternate mailing address to one outside Virginia, your driver’s license or ID card will be canceled. Exceptions may be made for some individuals, such as active duty military personnel and Virginia residents employed outside the U.S. (See the publication Re-establishing your Virginia Residency DMV 143).

Applicants under age 19 can have a parent or legal guardian certify their Virginia residency. The parent or legal guardian must appear in person with the applicant and provide an ID card and proof of their Virginia residency with a document from the residency list.

• Deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement or residential rental or lease agreement
• U.S. or Virginia income tax return form from the previous year along with evidence of acceptance of the return by the appropriate tax agency.
• Utility bill not more than two months old issued to the applicant. (Examples include gas, electric sewer, water, cable or phone bill). (Cell phone and pager bills are not accepted).
• U.S. Postal Service change of address confirmation form or postmarked U.S. mail with forwarding address label
• Virginia Voter Registration Card mailed to you by your local registrar
• Virginia driver’s license, commercial driver’s license, learner’s permit or DMV-issued ID card displaying the applicant’s current Virginia address
• Monthly bank statement not more than two months old issued by a bank
• Payroll check stub issued by an employer within the last two months
• U.S. Internal Revenue Service tax reporting W-2 form or 1099 form not more than 18 months old
• Receipt for personal property taxes or real estate taxes paid within the last year to the Commonwealth of Virginia or a Virginia locality
• Current homeowners insurance policy or bill
• Current automobile or life insurance bill (Cards or policies are not accepted).
• Cancelled check not more than two months old with both name and address imprinted
• Annual Social Security Statement for the current or preceding calendar year
• Certified copy of school records/transcript issued by a school in which the applicant is currently enrolled and is accredited by a U.S. state, jurisdiction or territory (A report card is not accepted).
• Virginia Department of Education Certificate of Enrollment form

Active duty military member assigned to a unit based in Virginia may present one of the following:

• Letter from commanding officer on official letterhead, with an original signature stating that the applicant resides on board a ship docked in Virginia or in a barracks located in Virginia
• Orders from the U.S. military assigning the applicant to a military unit with a Virginia address
• Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) showing Virginia as applicant’s Home of Record

Proof of Name Change
• If the name listed on your proof of identification or proof of legal presence document does not match the name you want to appear on your driver’s license or ID card, you will need to present evidence of your legal name change.

If you recently married or a court has granted you a name change, you will need to present evidence of your legal name change.

If you currently hold a valid Virginia driver’s license or ID card, you must present it along with one of the documents listed below for proof of your name change. If you cannot present your Virginia issued credential, you must present one proof of identity from the primary document list in addition to one of the documents listed below as proof of name change.

• Marriage certificate
• Divorce decree if the decree states the name change from married name to maiden name
• Court order granting the name change

Proof of Legal Presence
All first time applicants must provide one proof of legal presence. Applicants whose Virginia credential has expired or been suspended, revoked or canceled will need to provide proof of legal presence prior to obtaining a new license or ID card. Documents presented as proof of legal presence must show your full legal name and date of birth. If the name on your legal presence document does not match the name you expect to use on your driver’s license or ID card, you may need to present evidence of your legal name change.

• Official birth document issued by a U.S. state, territory or jurisdiction. (Documents issued from a hospital, notifications of birth registration and foreign birth certificates are not accepted).
• Unexpired or expired U.S. passport of U.S. passport card (Temporary passports are not accepted).
• U.S. Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Certificate of Citizenship
• Unexpired foreign passport with any one document listed below:

1. Unexpired or expired U.S. visa and unexpired I-94 (F1/F2 applicants must present an I-20). (J1/J applicants must present a DS-2019).
2. Unexpired I-94W
3. Unexpired U.S. Immigrant visa presented within one year of entry
4. Unexpired or expired up to one year I-551 stamp

• Unexpired passport from Canada or Micronesia with an unexpired I-94
• USCIS form I-797 displaying applicant’s name (Depending on the purpose and nature of the form, the I-797 may not be accepted. The I-797 for an I-765 petition is not accepted).
• Resident Alien Card, Permanent Resident Card or Northern Marianas Card (I-551) unexpired or expired for not more than one year (Conditional resident aliens see next bullet)
• Unexpired Permanent Resident Card (I-551) valid for two years issued to a conditional resident alien
• Unexpired or expired not more than one year temporary I-551 stamp on an I-94, with photograph of the bearer
• Alien Registration Receipt Card (I-151)
• Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240)
• Certification of Report of Birth of a U.S. Citizen (DS-1350)
• Certificate of Birth Abroad (FS-545)
• Canal Zone Government Certificate of Live Birth (Panama Canal Zone) issued between February 26, 1904 and October1, 1979 when presented with proof of the holder’s parent(s) U.S. citizenship at the time of the birth
• U.S. Citizen Identification card (I-797 or I-197)
• Unexpired Re-entry Permit (I-327)
• Unexpired Refugee Travel Document (I-571)
• Form I-94 Record of Arrival and Departure stamped Refugee
• Official letter from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicating one of the following:

1. That the applicant’s petition for adjustment of status to permanent residency has been reopened and restored to a pending status
2. That the applicant’s original I-797 petition for an I-821 or I-129 has been received and a duplicate notice cannot be issued
3. That the applicant has been granted Deferred Action Status

• Asylees may present documentation from USCIS or U.S. Immigration Court, such as a Form I-94 stamped Asylee indicating that asylum has been granted (Verification is required).
• Applicants for asylum may present an application for asylum along with documentation from USCIC or U.S. Immigration Court indicating receipt of the application. (Verification is required).

Proof of Social Security Number if Applicable
Your proof of SSN document must display your name and all nine digits of your SSN. DMV will verify all Social Security numbers with the Social Security Administration (SSA). If all the information you present does not match the information on file at the SSA, DMV cannot issued you’re a driver’s license, learner’s permit, CDL or CDL instruction permit

• Social Security card (Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers are not accepted).
• Annual Social Security statement
• U.S. Internal Revenue Service tax reporting W-2 form or 1099 form
• Payroll check stub issued by employer
• Unexpired U.S. Active Duty/Retiree/Reservist Military ID Card (DD-2 or Common Access Card). (ID cards of military dependents are not accepted).

All documents are subject to verification with the issuing entity, which may delay the issuance of your license or ID card.

The State of Virginia has the following restrictions:

Learner’s Permit Restrictions
• You must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is 21 years or older and is seated beside you at all times.

• You may be accompanied by a licensed driver who is 18 years or older if they are your parent, legal guardian, sister, brother, half-sister, half-brother, stepsister or stepbrother.

• You cannot have more than one passenger under age 18 unless they are an immediate member of your family.

• You are prohibited from driving between the hours of midnight and 4 am.

• You are prohibited from using a cell phone or text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.

Driver License Under Age 18
• You cannot have more than one passenger under age 18 unless they are an immediate member of your family.

• You are prohibited from driving between the hours of midnight and 4 am.

• You are prohibited from using a cell phone or text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.

When applying for a learner’s permit or driver’s license, you will need to do the following:

• When you apply for a Virginia Learner’s Permit, you must also complete the application process for a driver’s license and pay fees for both the permit and license.

• You must have a Certificate of Completion from a driver’s education program if you are under 19 or 19 and older who has never been licensed before.

• Your parent or guardian must certify that you have completed at least 45 hours of practice driving, with 15 hours completed after sunset if you are under 18.

• Your parent or guardian must sign the application if you are under 18 unless you are married or are an emancipated minor.

If you have been found not guilty of an offense by a juvenile or domestic relations court in Virginia or any other state, you must have approval to be licensed from that court or a court in the city or county where you reside.

The Virginia DMV recommends that teens and parents read the handbook entitled, “Teaching Your Teen to Drive”, which covers the following topics:

1. How to be a good coach
2. Driving 101
3. Parent-Teen Driving Agreement
4. Driving log

The information will help parents become a better coach while supervising the teen’s practice driving sessions.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has the following requirements for obtaining a Learner’s Permit:

• You must be a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
• You must be at least 15 years and 6 months of age.
• You must provide written consent from your parent or legal guardian if you are under age 18, unless you are married or emancipated.
• You must complete a state-approved driver education program if you are under age 19.
• You must pay both the permit fee of $3 and the license fee of $4.

The Learner’s Permit will expire on your 20th birthday.

Before applying for an Instruction Permit, you should study the Virginia Driver’s Manual, which covers the following topics:

• Section 1—Testing
• Section 2—Signals, Signs and Pavement Markings
• Section 3—Safe Driving
• Section 4—Seat Belts, Airbags and Child Safety Seats
• Section 5—Penalties
• Section 6—License Types
• Section 7—Other Important Information
• Section 8—Sample Knowledge Exam

The manual can be found online at the Virginia DMV website or at any local DMV office.