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How to Get a Virginia Drivers license

Getting behind the wheel is a big step on the road to adulthood. If you're a Virginia teen and you're ready to get in the driver's seat, these are the steps you'll need to follow in order to get your Virginia drivers license.

Step One: Get Your Learner's Permit

In Virginia, you must be at least 15 and a half to apply for your permit, which allows you to legally practice driving with a licensed adult in the front seat.

To get your permit, you'll need to visit your local DMV, bringing along the following items:

  • Proof of identity (typically a passport or birth certificate)
  • Your social security card if you were issued one
  • Proof of your Virginia residency (options include school records, postmarked mail or pay stubs if you have a job)
  • Proof of your legal status in the U.S. (again your birth certificate or passport will work, as will citizenship or naturalization documents)

You can use this handy tool to make sure you have the correct documents. You'll also need to fill out a Virginia drivers license application, which must be signed by your parent or guardian.

At the DMV, you'll take a vision test and a two-part knowledge exam. The first part includes ten road signs that you must correctly identify in order to move on to the second part. You'll need at least an 80% on part two, which covers traffic laws and safe driving tactics, to pass. The best way to prepare for the exam is to study the Virginia Driver's Manual and take the DMV's online practice test.

Step Two: Practice, Practice, Practice

You'll need to have your learner's permit for at least nine months before you can apply for your Virginia drivers license. During that time, it's best to log as much practice as you can.

In fact, the state requires that you get at least 45 hours of practice behind the wheel, including at least 15 hours after sunset, before applying for your license. A parent or guardian will even need to sign off, certifying that you met this requirement.

You'll also need to complete a state-approved driver's education program. Proof of completion will be required when you apply for your Virginia drivers license.

Step Three: Take the Road Skills Exam

Once you're 16 and 3 months, you can visit the DMV to take your road skills exam. It's best to make an appointment to take the test by calling the DMV's state hotline at (804) 497-7100. You'll need to bring your permit to your appointment, as well as the documents you brought when you took your written knowledge exam. You'll also need proof that you completed a driver's ed course and logged your 45 practice hours.

Once a DMV employee has gone through your documents, it'll be time to take your road skills exam. Your test administrator will be checking to see if you:

  • Are familiar with your vehicle and its safety features
  • Drive safely at or under the speed limit
  • Stop and start smoothly
  • Abide by all traffic signs
  • Check your mirrors and use your turn signals
  • Remain a safe distance behind the car ahead of you
  • Follow right of way laws
  • Can parallel and perpendicular park

Step Four: Drive Safely

Once you pass your road skills exam, your Virginia drivers license will be mailed to you. Make sure that you drive safely and follow all traffic laws so that you don't put yourself at risk of losing it.

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