Ready for your driver license?

Virginia follows a graduated driver's licensing (GDL) program. Basically, this means there are a specific set of steps you need to follow to get your driver's license. So let's break down each step:

1) Virginia Learner's Permit

At 15 years and six months old, you can apply for your Virginia learner's permit. To apply for your permit, you can are required to complete the Virginia Driver's License Application Form (DL1P) and provide documentation of your identification and residency. You must also pass a two-part sign and knowledge test and a vision test.

With a learner's permit, you can operate a motor vehicle when accompanied by a driver 18 years of age or older who is a parent or legal guardian lawfully permitted to operate a motor vehicle, or when accompanied by a driver 21 years of age or older who is lawfully permitted to operate a motor vehicle. Your accompanying person must be alert, able to assist you and occupying the seat next to the driver.

While holding your learner's permit, you may not drive between midnight and four a.m., or with more than one passenger less than 21 years old, except when traveling with family or household members or participating in a DOE or DMV approved driver education program.

2) Virginia Driver's License

You must be at least 16 years and 3 months of age and have held your learner's permit for at least nine months before you can apply for a driver's license. If you are under 18, you must also complete a state-approved driver education program at a driver training school, a public or private school, or through a DMV-approved online course provider. You can complete the in-car instruction periods at a Virginia public or private driver training school unless you are home-schooled.

Additionally, you will need to take the road skills test. You must provide a vehicle with a valid safety inspection sticker, license plates, registration card and decals, working brakes, safety belts, horn, lights, turn signals, mirrors and speedometer for the road skills test. To take the road skills test, you must either present an acceptable driver's education certificate of completion, or complete a behind-the-wheel checklist that describes specific driving tasks that you may be asked to perform while taking the road skills test.

If you are under age 18, you may not operate a motor vehicle between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. except:

  • In cases of an emergency
  • When traveling to and from a place of business where you are employed
  • When traveling to or from an activity that is supervised by an adult and is sponsored by a school or civic, religious, or public organization
  • When accompanied by a parent or other adult acting in place of a parent or by a spouse who is at least 18 years old, in the front passenger seat

If you are under 18, you may carry only one passenger under age 21, unless accompanied by a licensed parent, or other adult acting in place of a parent, in the front passenger seat. After holding your license for one year, you may carry up to three passengers under age 21 in the following situations:

  • travel to and from a school-sponsored activity
  • there is a licensed driver 21 years old or older in the front passenger seat or
  • there is an emergency