What is the Driving Age in Virginia?

You must be at least 15 1/2 years old to obtain a learner’s permit, and 18 years old to acquire an unrestricted driver’s license.
Written by Nathan Porceng
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
background
Virginia
uses the Graduated Drivers License program (GDL) to allow teens to begin learning how to drive at age 15 1/2 and work their way towards obtaining an unrestricted license at 18.
You’ve been counting down the days until you can drive, gazing longingly at your parent’s minivan, and dreaming of taking it for a spin around your hometown. Getting your driver’s license is an exciting process, but requirements vary from state to state, including how old you need to be to begin learning and what restrictions apply with each phase of the licensing process.
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What is the driving age in Virginia?

In Virginia, you must be 15 1/2 years old to acquire a learner’s permit. You must be 18 to apply for an unrestricted
Virginia driver’s license

What is the Graduated Drivers License program in Virginia?

According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), car accidents are the second leading cause of death for young people. To protect Virginia’s youths, the state implemented a Graduated Drivers License (GDL) program.  
The GDL program allows young drivers to gradually accrue experience behind the wheel before hitting the road as full-fledged drivers. GDL programs have been implemented in several states across the country. While every state is a bit different, most programs include three stages:
  • Learner’s permit stage: supervised driving
  • Restricted license stage: limited unsupervised driving
  • Unrestricted stage: unrestricted standard driver’s license

How to get your learner’s permit in Virginia

Virginian drivers under the age of 18 must apply for a learner’s permit by completing
Form DL 1P
. You must be 15 1/2 years old to apply. 
Here are the steps for obtaining a learner’s permit:
  • Be at least 15 1/2 years old
  • Provide one proof of identity, one proof of legal presence, two proofs of Virginia residency, and proof of your Social Security Number if you have been issued one
  • Pass a
    vision screening
    test
  • Pass a two-part written
    knowledge exam
  • Pay a $3 fee plus the annual cost of a driver’s license, and submit all required paperwork to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
Nervous about the written exam? Don’t worry. Virginia offers
free practice exams
online, so you can be well prepared when the big day finally arrives!

Learner’s permit restrictions

When you have a learner’s permit, you can only drive under the supervision of another licensed driver. The driver accompanying you must be at least 21 years old unless they are your legal guardian or sibling, in which case they must be at least 18. The other driver must hold an unrestricted license, be seated next to you, and must be alert and able to assist you.

How to get your restricted driver’s license in Virginia

So you’ve been driving, learning, and you’re ready to drive solo. Here are the requirements to obtain a restricted driver’s license in Virginia:
  • Be at least 16 years and three months old
  • Hold a Virginia learner’s permit for nine months
  • Provide proof of completion of a state-approved driver’s education course
  • Provide a certificate attesting that you have completed 45 hours of supervised driving, 15 of which must be after sunset
  • Submit all required fees
  • Complete a vision screening
  • Pass a written exam and a road skills test
When you have completed all the above requirements you will receive a notice to appear in court for a licensing ceremony. 
Key Takeaway You must complete 45 hours of supervised driving, 15 of which must be after sunset, before you can apply for a restricted driver’s license.

Restricted driver’s license limitations

Congratulations on obtaining your first driver’s license! Just be aware that until you turn 18, your license does carry certain limitations.
You are not allowed to drive alone between the hours of midnight and 4 A.M. Also, you may not use a cell phone while driving. 
During your first year of driving, you may only have one passenger under the age of 21 in your car unless accompanied by a licensed parent, or a person acting as a parent, seated in the front seat of your car.

Exceptions

You may drive between midnight and 4 A.M. if you are driving:
  • to or from work
  • to or from an activity supervised by an adult that is sponsored by a school, religious, civic, or public organization
  • with a licensed spouse, parent, or guardian aged 18 or older
  • due to an emergency
After you have held your license for one year, you may have up to three passengers under the age of 21 if you are driving:
  • to or from a school-sponsored activity
  • with a licensed driver over 21 in the front passenger seat
  • due to an emergency
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FAQs

In Virginia, you must be 16 years and 3 months old to acquire your restricted driver’s license. To obtain a restricted driver’s license, you must hold a learner’s for at least nine months, complete a state-approved driver’s education course, drive at least 45 hours under supervision (15 of which must be after sunset), complete a knowledge exam and a road test, and submit all required paperwork and fees.
Yes. However, you may not drive between the hours of midnight and 4 A.M. until after you turn 18, unless you are driving to or from work, or an educational, civic, or religious activity supervised by an adult.
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