Virginia Graduated License Program - Virginia Graduated Drivers License
Although there is no official Virginia graduated drivers license program, the licensing procedure and the restrictions that are placed onto the teenage licensees are very similar to the graduated license laws of other states. The graduated drivers license requirements in Virginia apply to drivers under the age of 18 and must be observed at all times.
What is a graduated drivers license system and why do we even need it? The reason why graduated drivers license programs are in place in most states is the fact that teenage drivers are under an immense risk when they are out on the road. According to the national statistics, traffic accidents is a number one cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 20. This is a scary truth and unfortunately most teens tend to ignore it.
There is a number of reasons why teenage drivers are more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than drivers of any other age group, although you can probably identify the main contributing factors. Number one is complete absence of driving experience and unwillingness to recognize this fact. Experience is everything when it comes to driving, it allows you to predict and avoid most of the potentially dangerous situations and if one arises, it gives you the skills to deal with it. New drivers don't have these skills yet and teenage drivers usually refuse to acknowledge this fact.
Teenage drivers are also much more likely to be distracted by outside factors, such as chasing a radio station or peers being present in the vehicle. While an experienced driver can usually use most of the vehicle's controls without looking at them, young drivers actually have to take their eyes off the road to find a required button or a switch and taking the eyes off the road is never a good idea, the situation on the road can change in the matter of a second.
The graduated drivers license program addresses all these issues by breaking the licensing procedure into a number of separate steps and introducing restrictions and limitations that were designed to keep the young driver safe.
VA Graduated License Stages
Breaking the licensing procedure into a number of separate steps is a great idea that is currently used in most states. Instead of granting the applicant with full driving privileges right away, the Department of Motor Vehicles has the licensee to go through a number of intermediate steps, each one designed to teach the applicant a new set of skills. As the drivers license applicant travels through the graduated license stages, additional experience is acquired, so by the time a full drivers license is issued, the driver already has countless behind the wheel hours being his belt.
Virginia graduated drivers license system features the following key stages:
- Learners permit
- Provisional drivers license
- Unrestricted drivers license
You have to remember that in Virginia, the graduated drivers license program applies only to license applicants who are under 18 years of age. If you are above this age, please refer to the Virginia drivers handbook for a description of a regular licensing procedure.
The permit is your first licensing document and you have to be at least 15 years, 6 months old in order to be eligible for it. At this stage, you will be required to take a Virginia DMV permit test to prove that you are no stranger to the state driving laws. If you want to see what the test will be like, check out a free practice permit test.
Once you pass the test, you get your drivers permit and you can start driving, provided you observe the following learners permit restrictions:
- Supervised driving only. You cannot drive alone, you must have another licensed driver seated next to you at all times. The supervising driver must be at least 21 years of age and hold a current Virginia drivers license.
- The supervising driver can be 18 years of age if it's a member of the licensee's immediate family.
- No cell phones. You cannot use any communication devices while driving.
- School performance. If you have more than 10 unapproved absences at school, your driving privilege can be canceled.
The graduated license law requires you to hold your Virginia drivers permit for at least 9 months before you can graduate to the next step. While driving with your permit, you are required to complete an approved drivers education program that consists of at least 36 hours of classroom instruction and 14 hours of behind the wheel practice.
Intermediate Drivers License
The minimum age for obtaining a provisional drivers license in Virginia is 16 years and 3 months. By this time, you must have already held your learners permit for at least 9 months and completed a drivers education class along with the driver test. The road skills test is usually taken as part of the drivers education class and you can use your certificate of completion for the course along with the learners permit as a provisional license for 180 days. During this time, you will be invited to a licensing ceremony to court.
Although your provisional license allows you to ditch the supervising driver and start driving alone, the graduated license requirements dictate that you still observe the provisional license restrictions, which are as following:
- Passenger restrictions. You can carry no more than one passenger who is under 18 years of age for the first year following the issuance of your license. You can carry up to three passengers under the age of 18 after your first year following the issuance of the license.
- Curfew. You cannot drive between midnight and 4 a.m.
- Cell phones. You can't use a cell phone or any other electronic device while driving.
Provisional drivers license restrictions will be lifted once you reach the age of 18. At this point, the graduated drivers license program ends you can drive any time, carrying as many people as the vehicle allows.
Please note that even though the Virginia graduated license program applies only to those who are under 18 years of age, drivers ed classes are mandatory for everyone who is under 19 years of age.