There are over 5.9 million licensed drivers in the state of Virginia alone. About 180 of those drivers were injured PER DAY in car crashes last year.
A large percentage of motor vehicle crashes are preventable. The Commonwealth was one of the first states to officially address the issue of distracted driving. Their DRIVE SMART program and Distracted Driving Awareness Month are now both in their thirteenth year.
Virginia driving laws and targeted outreach programs continue to evolve and expand to keep up with the times.
Teen Drivers Take Note
Young drivers and new drivers are at a heightened risk of being involved in car accidents. That’s why certain laws are geared specifically towards this demographic.
Before hitting the road, here are 5 important Virginia driving laws that all teen drivers (and their parents) should know:
Provisional License vs Full License
Gone are the days when your teenage son or daughter could drive their first car off the lot on their 16th birthday.
Virginia driving laws now mandate that a teenage driver must be 16 and 3 months and held a learner’s permit for at least 9 months to get a provisional license. Besides meeting the age limit, teen drivers must have completed an approved driver’s education course and proof of 45 practice hours behind the wheel.
Teenage drivers can obtain a full license at 18. If they have not taken a driver’s education course, they must wait until age 19 for a full unrestricted license.
Virginia driving laws prohibit anyone under 18 years of age to drive between midnight – 4am. There are only a few exceptions, including:
- driving to or from work,
- driving to or from an adult-supervised event that is sponsored by a school, religious, civic, or public organization,
- driving with a licensed parent or spouse over the age of 18 and occupying the passenger seat,
- in the case of an emergency.
Teenage drivers under the age of 18 must adhere to certain occupancy restrictions. In the first year of driving, they can only carry one passenger under 21. The only exception is if accompanied by a licensed parent in the front passenger seat.
Passenger restrictions do not apply to family members of the driver. Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt at all times.
Drinking and Driving Penalties for Teenage Drivers
As consumption of alcohol is illegal under the age of 21 in Virginia, there is a different set of laws for underage DUI.
The standard .08% legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) does not apply to drivers under 21 years of age under Virginia’s ‘zero tolerance‘ provisions. They can be charged with DUI with only 0.02% BAC.
If a driver under the age of 18 is caught drinking and driving, it gets even more complicated. Any minor charged with a DUI is processed in Virginia’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Cell Phones and Texting
The use of cell phones while driving is prohibited by anyone under the age of 18. This includes both handheld AND hands-free devices.
Regardless of age, reading, writing, or sending text messages is never allowed while driving. This should be taught and enforced by parents from the first day behind the wheel.
That’s a Wrap for Virginia Driving Laws 101
Hopefully, you now have a basic understanding of the most important Virginia driving laws for teenagers.
The more you know, the more you can help prepare the teenage driver in your life to be safe and responsible on the road.
Be sure to contact the Terry’s team if you’re looking for a practical and reliable first set of wheels. Here’s to the adventure ahead!