Did you know that within the first year of driving, almost a quarter of all teenagers will be involved in a traffic accident or receive a traffic violation ticket? A number of states have written new laws for younger drivers, and the Commonwealth is one of them.  The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has implemented a set of laws that are similar to the “graduated drivers license” (GDL) laws of other states.  The regulations are designed to lower the high accident rates among teen drivers in Virginia. 

The laws apply to every license applicant under 19 years of age and divide the process of obtaining a license into two phases.  Each phase is designed to teach young drivers safe driving techniques in a gradual manner.  

How To Obtain a Virginia Drivers License

General steps to obtain a drivers license in Virginia:

  • If you are under 19, you must complete a DMV-approved driver’s education course.
  • Once you have completed a driver’s education course, you can apply for a learners permit.  You must be at least 15 years, 6 months of age.
  • A permit must be held for 9 months and comes with the following limitations:
    • You may only drive with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age and who is seated beside you.  The driver accompanying you may be 18-20 years of age if he or she is your legal guardian, brother, or sister.
    • The driver accompanying you must hold a valid drivers license, be legally permitted to drive, be alert, and able to assist you.
  • If you are under 19, you must complete at least 45 hours of supervised practice, 15 of which must be completed at night, after sunset.  (This is a recent increase from 40 hours/10 at night).

In Northern Virginia and nearby counties, a 90-minute segment for parents of driver education is being introduced in 2013. 

If you fulfill the above requirements, you will be granted a full driver’s license that allows for unsupervised driving.  However, you will still have some limitations for one year after the date of issue. 

Restrictions For Drivers Under 18

Driver’s license and permit holder restrictions for drivers under the age of 18:

  • You may not operate a motor vehicle in Virginia while using a cell phone or other wireless communication device.
  • You may not drive from midnight to 4:00 a.m. unless you are traveling from work or a school-sponsored event, or if accompanied by an adult, or responding to an emergency call as a volunteer firefighter.
  • Changes to the law effective July 2013 -You may not have more than one passenger under the age of 21 for the first year after receiving your license. After you have held your license for one year, you may carry only three passengers under age 21 until you reach age 18.  Passenger restrictions do not apply to family members. 

Speak With a Virginia Car Accident Attorney

The Virginia car accident attorneys at Shevlin Smith want to remind teens to practice safe driving skills.  If you find yourself involved in a northern Virginia or DC car accident that was not your fault, contact us today.  Our experienced Fairfax lawyers are here to help. Call 703.591.0067 or complete the contact form on this page.  

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