virginia-road-signGetting a driver’s license is a huge rite of passage in a young person’s life, and if you’re finally at the age where you can apply, you probably feel pretty anxious to get started. However, the process can be complicated, and if you don’t take the time to learn about it, you might find yourself getting a little overwhelmed. Our easy-to-use guide will help you every step of the way.

Like most other states, Virginia requires that all young drivers must complete a Graduated Driver’s License Program (GDL), a multi-stage process that allows teen drivers to gain important skills while remaining under the supervision of a licensed driver. GDL programs have been shown to reduce traffic accidents caused by young and inexperienced drivers.

In Virginia, the GDL program features three unique stages:

  • Learner’s Permit
  • Provisional License
  • Full License

On this page, you will find detailed information on how to prepare for the Virginia permit test and ultimately go on to receive full driving privileges.

Learner’s Permit

When you are 15 and a half years old, you can apply for your Learner’s Permit in Virginia. This requires that you pass a written two-part knowledge test (or permit test), which will check your awareness of traffic law and your ability to recognize traffic signs.

Study, Study, Study

Passing the permit test on your first try will require plenty of study. We offer a free copy of the Virginia Driver’s Manual for you to use, or you can get a physical copy by visiting the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and requesting one.

Take Advantage of Practice Exams

Practice exams are a wonderful resource for learning. Not only will they help the information you have studied sink in, but they will help you avoid taking the permit test before you are ready. Our Virginia practice permit test contains many of the same topics as the real test and can be viewed as the final step in preparing.

Visit the Virginia DMV Offices and Take Your Tests

When you feel ready, visit the DMV offices and bring along:

  • A completed Virginia Driver’s License Application (Form DL1P), signed by your parent or guardian.
  • Proof of your identity (birth certificate, U.S. passport).
  • Proof of residency (parent’s utility bill, credit card bill).
  • Social Security number.
  • $7 in testing and license fees.

Now, you will be given the permit test. You must correctly answer 80 percent of the general-knowledge questions and 100 percent of the traffic-sign questions if you want to pass. When you finish, you will be given a vision test to show that you can see well enough to drive.

Start Practicing

While holding your Learner’s Permit, you must enroll in a state-approved driver’s education course. This course must include at least 36 hours of classroom education, 14 periods of behind-the-wheel education, seven period of driving and seven periods of in-car observation. You are also required to practice for at least 45 hours under the supervision of your parent or guardian. Of those hours, 15 must take place at night.

Provisional License

When you are 16 years and three months old, you have held your permit for at least nine months and you have completed all the above-mentioned requirements, you can take the driving test and apply for your Provisional License.

Visit the DMV offices, bringing along:

  • The certificate that shows you completed driver’s education.
  • Signed proof that you completed your required practice driving.
  • A completed Virginia Driver’s License Application (Form DL1P), signed by your parent or guardian.
  • The same proofs of identity and residency documents that you used before.

Now, you will be given a behind-the-wheel driving test. It should be relatively simple, and as long as you spent plenty of time practicing, passing should be easy. Stay calm and do your best!

When you pass, you will be given your Provisional License. Be aware that it comes with some restrictions. Unless supervised by a licensed driver, you cannot:

  • Drive between midnight and 4 a.m. except for work or school.
  • Drive with more than one unrelated passenger under the age of 18 during the first year.
  • Drive without a safety belt.

Driver’s License

When you are 18 years old, and you have completed all the requirements of the GDL process, the restrictions will be removed from your license.

Congratulations! You are now a fully licensed driver.

Additional Information

If you skipped driver’s education, you will have to wait until age 19 to apply for your license.

If you are under 18 years old and you fail the permit test, you must wait 15 days to try again.