How to Get a Virginia Driver's Permit

The state of Virginia uses a graduated driver’s license program that requires all new drivers under 18 to begin driving with a learner’s permit, in order to practice safe driving under supervision before getting their full driver’s license. To receive the initial learner’s permit, you must follow certain steps. Here is a simple guide to getting a Virginia driver’s instruction permit:

Learner’s permit

The learner’s permit in Virginia is the first step towards getting a driver’s license, and may only be issued to a driver who is at least 15 years and six months old, and has passed the written exam.

The learner’s permit requires that drivers who are under 16 years and three months old be accompanied at all times by a driver who is at least 21 years old, and has a valid driver’s license. Drivers may also be supervised by a legal sibling who is at least 18 years old, and is licensed.

Drivers who are over 16 years and 3 months old may drive unsupervised so long as they have had their learner’s permit for a minimum of nine months. They must carry a signed driver education completion form with a parent or legal guardian signature.

During the time they hold a learner’s permit, drivers must complete 45 hours of driving practice, 15 of which must be performed at night. If a driver is ready to move on to the intermediate driver’s license before they turn 19, they must also complete a state-approved driver’s education course that includes at least 36 hours of classroom time, seven hours of observation, and seven hours of behind-the-wheel training.

The learner’s permit must be held for at least nine months before a driver, who is at least 16 years and three months old, may move on to the intermediate restricted driver’s license.

How to apply

In order to apply for a learner’s permit in Virginia, a driver must bring the following documents to the DMV when they take their written exam:

  • A completed application that has been signed by a parent or guardian if the driver is under 18.

  • Both primary and secondary proofs of identity.

  • Primary proof of identity can include a birth certificate, a passport, or a military dependent ID card, for example.

  • Secondary proof of identity can include bank statements, work IDs, social security cards, and health insurance cards, for example.

  • Proof of social security number, such as a social security card or a W-2 form.

  • Proof of legal U.S. residency, such as a birth certificate or a resident alien card.

  • Proof of Virginia residency, such as a bank statement or a school report card

They must also take a vision test, and pay the required fees. There is a $3 permit fee and a $4 licensing fee.

Passing the exam

The Virginia learner’s permit exam covers all state-specific traffic laws, road signs, drug and alcohol abuse, and other driver’s safety information, and comes in two parts. The first part contains ten questions, all of which must be answered correctly to pass. The second part must receive a grade of at least 80% in order to pass. The Virginia DMV provides a driver’s manual which includes all the information that student drivers need to pass the written exam. The state also provides an interactive guide with practice questions which can be used online as many times as needed to gain the knowledge and confidence needed to pass the exam.


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