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Virginia New Resident Guide

Welcome to Virginia! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in Virginia. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • Persons moving to Virginia have 60 days to obtain a Virginia license.
  • A resident must notify the DMV within 30 days of a change of address. Persons moving to Virginia have 60 days to obtain a Virginia license.
  • Whenever any person who has applied for or obtained the registration or title to a vehicle moves from the address shown in his or her application, registration card, or certificate of title, he or she shall notify the DMV of the change of address within 30 days.
  • To register your vehicle in Virginia and obtain license plates, you must first title your vehicle within 30 days of moving to Virginia. After you have insured and titled your vehicle, register it at any Virginia DMV customer service center within 30 days of moving to Virginia.


Graduated Licensing Program



Learner's Permit

Requirements

  • 15 years and 6 months;
  • Must pass vision screening and written exam.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Allows you to operate a motor vehicle when a license driver at least 21 years of age is seated beside you.
  • Accompanying driver may be 18 years of age if is legal guardian or sibling.

Provisional License

Requirements

  • Must hold permit for at least 9 months.
  • Must be at least 16 years and 3 months old.
  • Must have accumulated 45 hours of supervised driving, 15 of which must be at night.
  • Must pass road skills test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May not drive unsupervised between midnight and 4 AM except when driving:
    • To or from employment;
    • To or from adult-supervised activity sponsored by civic, religious, or public organization
    • In case of emergency.
  • Provisional license holders under 18 are prohibited from transporting more than 1 passenger under 21 for the first year they hold their license
  • After the first year, provisional license holders are prohibited from transporting more than 3 passengers under 21 until they reach age 18, unless driving to and from a school activity or accompanied by a passenger age 21 or older.
  • Family members are exempted from all passenger restrictions.

Unrestricted License

Requirements

  • At 18, teens are eligible for an unrestricted license.


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



Driving Record

The length of time that a conviction stays on your record depends on the severity of the violation. If you receive an order or notice of revocation, suspension, disqualification or cancellation, your convictions could remain on your record for even longer than specified in one of these lists.

DMV demerit points remain on your record for two years from the date that you commit the offense. The dates that demerit points are removed from your driving record are not related to the dates that convictions are removed from your record (indicated in parenthesis on the Violation Lists).

6 Point Violations

  • Reckless driving - speeding in excess of 80 mph (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - speeding 20 mph or more above the posted speed limit (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - racing (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - passing or overtaking an emergency vehicle (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - passing a school bus (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - passing on the crest of a hill (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - passing at a railroad crossing (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - passing two vehicles abreast (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - driving two vehicles abreast (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - driving too fast for conditions (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - failing to give a proper signal (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - faulty brakes/improper control (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - on parking lots, etc. (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - with an obstructed view (11 years)
  • Reckless driving - generally (11 years)
  • Speeding 20 mph or more above the posted speed limit (5 years)
  • Driving while intoxicated (11 years)
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (11 years)
  • Driving under the influence of drugs (11 years)
  • Driving after illegally consuming alcohol (persons under age 21) (3 years)
  • Driving while intoxicated - maiming (11 years)
  • Involuntary manslaughter/alcohol (11 years)
  • Refusing blood/breath test (11 years)
  • Driving while your license is suspended or revoked for driving while intoxicated (11 years)
  • Driving while your license is revoked for driving while intoxicated - maiming (11 years)
  • Driving while your license is revoked for driving while intoxicated - involuntary manslaughter (11 years)
  • Manslaughter (11 years)
  • Involuntary manslaughter (11 years)
  • Involuntary manslaughter/aggravated (11 years)
  • Driving after being declared a habitual offender (11 years)
  • Authorizing person suspended for habitual offender and/or driving while intoxicated to drive (3 years)
  • Driving on suspended license (11 years)
  • Driving while your license is suspended or revoked (11 years)
  • Driving while your license is suspended or revoked for non-payment of court fines and costs (11 years)
  • Driving under suspension or revocation before giving proof of financial responsibility (11 years)
  • Speeding 20 mph or more above the posted speed limit (5 years)
  • Injuring person while racing - felony (11 years)
  • Failure to stop at the scene of a crash - injury (11 years)
  • Failure to stop at the scene of a crash - death (11 years)
  • Failure to stop at the scene of a crash - property damage of $1000 or more (11 years)
  • Emergency vehicle violation - death (11 years)
  • Vehicular assault or willful stopping, impeding or damaging vehicle (11 years)
  • Blocking access to service facility (11 years)
  • Attempting to elude police felony offense (11 years) misdemeanor offense (3 years)
  • Passing stopped school bus (non-reckless) (3 years)
  • Operating unsafe vehicle (3 years)

4 Point Violations

  • Reckless driving - failure to stop before entering a highway (11 years)
  • Speeding (5 years)
  • Speeding 10-14 mph above the posted speed limit (5 years)
  • Speeding 15-19 mph above the posted speed limit (5 years)
  • Speeding 10-19 mph above the posted speed limit (5 years)
  • Passing when unsafe (3 years)
  • Passing to the left of approaching vehicle (3 years)
  • Failure to drive to the right and stop for police/fire/emergency vehicle (3 years)
  • Failure to stop for pedestrian with white cane (3 years)
  • Failure to stop and yield right-of-way (3 years)
  • Failure to yield right-of-way (3 years)
  • Failure to yield when turning left (3 years)
  • Failure to yield to funeral procession (3 years)

3 Point Violations

  • Speeding 1-9 mph above the posted speed limit
  • Impeding traffic, slow speed
  • Improper passing (3 years)
  • Improper passing on the right (3 years)
  • Improper driving (3 years)
  • Improper stopping on highway (3 years)
  • Changing course after signaling (3 years)
  • Coasting with gears in neutral (3 years)
  • Failure to give way in favor of overtaking vehicle (3 years)
  • Failure to give way when abreast of another car (3 years)
  • Driving through safety zone (3 years)
  • Driving over fire hose (3 years)
  • Unauthorized use of crossover on controlled highway (3 years)
  • Driving/riding on sidewalk (3 years)
  • Improper turn (3 years)
  • Improper U-turn (3 years)
  • Violation of right turn on red (3 years)
  • Violation of left turn on red (3 years)
  • Failure to obey highway sign (3 years)
  • Evading traffic control device (3 years)
  • Driving without lights/excessive lights (3 years)
  • Failure to dim headlights (3 years)
  • Parking without proper lights displayed (3 years)
  • Inadequate hazard lights (3 years)
  • No Virginia driver's license (3 years)
  • No Virginia license plate (3 years)
  • Failure to obtain a driver's license (3 years)
  • No driver's license - vehicle/motorcycle (3 years)
  • Failure to have license revalidated (3 years)
  • Learner's permit violation (3 years)
  • Permitting unlicensed person to drive (3 years)
  • Driving in violation of restricted license (restrictions related to physical limitation, such as mechanical control device) (3 years)
  • Failure to stop at the scene of a crash, unattended property (3 years)
  • Failure to leave the scene of a crash at the direction of officer (3 years)
  • Failure to report a crash, unattended property, less than $250 damage (3 years)
  • Following/parking within 500 feet of fire apparatus (3 years)
  • Emergency vehicle violation (3 years)
  • Drinking while driving (3 years)
  • Improper driving/riding motorcycle (3 years)
  • Driving with TV screen visible to driver (3 years)
  • Driving while using earphones (3 years)
  • Passenger restriction violation (3 years)
  • Curfew violation (3 years)
  • HOV violation, second or subsequent offense - Northern Virginia planning district 8 (5 years)

Safe Driving Points

Safe driving points are assigned for each full calendar year that you hold a valid Virginia driver's license and drive without any violations or suspensions. In some cases, you may also earn safe driving points by completing a driver improvement clinic.

Annual safe driving points are awarded in early April of each year for the previous calendar year. You can accumulate a total of 5 safe driving points and you may use these safe driving points to offset demerit points.

Drivers Under 18

  • If you are convicted of a demerit-point traffic violation (or a safety belt or child restraint violation) committed when you were under age 18, you will be required to satisfactorily complete a driver improvement clinic. If you do not satisfactorily complete the clinic within 90 days, DMV will suspend your permit or license until the clinic is completed.
  • After your second demerit point (or a safety belt or child restraint violation) conviction for a violation committed when you were under age 18, DMV will suspend your permit or license for 90 days. If you have no other means of transportation, you may petition the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in your jurisdiction for restricted driving privileges to drive between home and work.
  • After a third demerit point (or a safety belt or child restraint violation) conviction for a violation committed when you were under age 18, DMV will revoke your permit or license for one year or until you reach age 18, whichever is longer.

Drivers 18 and Over

  • If you are convicted of a demerit-point violation (or safety belt and child restraint violation) committed when you were age 18 or 19, you will be required to complete a driver improvement clinic.
  • 8 demerit points in 12 months (or 12 points in 24 months)
    • You will receive an advisory letter that cautions you about the consequences of violating the law.
  • 12 demerit points in 12 months (or 18 points in 24 months)
    • You will be required to complete a driver improvement clinic.
    • You must enroll in and satisfactorily complete the clinic within 90 days.
  • 18 demerit points in 12 months (or 24 points in 24 months)
    • Your driving privilege will be suspended for 90 days.
    • Additionally, you must complete a driver improvement clinic before your privilege will be restored.
    • Once your privilege is restored, you will be placed on a six-month probation period.
  • If you are under age 20, a computer-based driver improvement clinic will not satisfy a driver improvement clinic requirement. You must satisfactorily complete a clinic that provides classroom instruction.


Insurance Requirements



  • To purchase license plates or decals, you must certify that the vehicle is covered by the minimum insurance requirements or pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee. Insurance requirements also apply to antique motor vehicles. Your insurance carrier must be authorized to conduct business in Virginia.
  • Virginia requires the following minimum coverage:
    • Bodily injury/death of one person $25,000;
    • Bodily injury/death of two or more persons $50,000;
    • Property damage $20,000.
  • The $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle (UMV) fee, which is paid to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), does not provide any insurance; it only allows you to drive an uninsured vehicle at your own risk. It expires with your registration and must be paid at renewal.


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, or when within 200 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you.

You must use your headlights:

  • During inclement weather such as rain, fog, snow or sleet when visibility is reduced to 500 feet.
  • Whenever you use your windshield wipers as a result of bad weather.
  • From sunset to sunrise.

You may flash your headlights to indicate your intention to pass a vehicle traveling ahead of you.



Implied Consent Laws



Criminal

  • Second Refusal (within 10 years) (Class 2 misdemeanor) - Not more than 6 months and/or not more than $1,000.
  • Third Refusal (within 10 years) (Class 1 misdemeanor) - Not more than 12 months and/or not more than $2,500.

Administrative

  • First Refusal - Suspension 1 year.
  • Second Refusal (within 10 years) - Suspension 3 years plus 7 days.
  • Third Refusal (within 10 years) - Suspension 3 years plus 60 days.


DUI Penalties



First Offense (Class 1 Misdemeanor)

  • Up to 12 months imprisonment;
  • Up to $2,500 fine;
  • 1 year license suspension or revocation;
  • Alcohol education and treatment required.

Second Offense (Class 1 Misdemeanor)

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment;
  • Up to $2,500 fine;
  • 3 year license revocation;
  • Alcohol education and treatment required.

Third Offense (within 10 years)(Class 6 Felony)

  • 1 - 5 years imprisonment;
  • Up to $2,500 fine;
  • Indefinite license revocation;
  • Not eligible to participate in Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program education and treatment.

Fourth or Subsequent Offense (within 10 years)(Class 6 Felony)

  • 1 - 5 years imprisonment;
  • Up to $2,500 fine;
  • Indefinite license revocation;
  • Not eligible to participate in Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program education and treatment.

Other

Community service

  • Court may order community service as condition of probation.

Child endangerment

  • A person convicted of a DUI offense while transporting a minor age 17 years or younger shall be fined an additional minimum $500 and not more than $1,000 and sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 5 days.

Ignition interlock

  • Required for up to 6 months as a condition of a restricted license, if one is granted.


Open Container Law



Virginia law prohibits consumption of an alcoholic beverage by a person driving a motor vehicle, and provides that a driver is presumed to have consumed an alcoholic beverage if an open container is located within the passenger area of the motor vehicle, the alcoholic beverage in the open container has been at least partially removed and the appearance, conduct, odor of alcohol, speech or other physical characteristic of the driver of the motor vehicle may be reasonably associated with the consumption of an alcoholic beverage.



Red Light Violation Fines



  • Traditional enforcement: $200 maximum fine/4 points.
  • Auto enforcement: $50 maximum fine; no court costs; not a criminal offense; no points; may not be used by insurers.


Construction Zone Penalties



Speeding violations when workers are present are subject to an enhanced fine of up to $500.



Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is required:

  • When temporarily stopped on the traveled or paved portion of the highway so as to create a traffic hazard.

Hazard light use is permitted:

  • On a vehicle slowed or stopped at the scene of a traffic hazard.
  • When traveling as part of a funeral procession.
  • When traveling at a speed of thirty miles per hour or less.


Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



  • The law gives a funeral procession a general right-of-way on any street through which it passes if it is traveling under a police or sheriff's escort.
  • No vehicle may join, pass through, or interfere with the funeral procession.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless the bus is on the opposite side of a median or barrier.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a $250 fine.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



A 2-foot minimum passing distance is required.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • Applicants must pass a special examination including a written examination and a road test before being issued a license.
  • A motorcycle written or road test may be waived for licensed members, spouses of a member, or dependents of a member of the United States Armed Services who has successfully completed a basic motorcycle rider course approved by the United States Armed Services.

Protective Gear

  • Every person operating a motorcycle must wear a face shield, safety glasses, or goggles, or have his motorcycle equipped with safety glass or a windshield, at all times while operating the vehicle. Operators and any passengers thereon must wear protective helmets.

Headlights

  • Daytime use of headlight is not required.

Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Motorcycles traveling side-by-side in a single lane is permitted.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not pass a left-turning vehicle on the right by driving on the shoulder of the highway or off the pavement or main traveled portion of the roadway, except where driving on paved shoulders is permitted by lawfully placed signs.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When crossing any intersection of a highway by a railroad.
  • When crossing any intersection of highways, unless the intersection is marked as a passing zone.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle.
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn.
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.


Speed Limits



  • 60 mph on U.S. Routes 29, 58, 360, 460, and 17 (between the town of Port Royal and Saluda where they are nonlimited access, multilane, divided highways);
  • 55 mph on other interstate highways, limited-access highways with divided roadways, limited access highways with four or more lanes and all State primary highways;
  • 55 mph on all other highways for passenger motor vehicles, buses, pickup or panel trucks or motorcycles;
  • 45 mph on all other highways for trucks, tractor trucks, a combination of vehicles designed to transport property, or a vehicle which is towing either another motor vehicle or a house trailer;
  • 35 mph on highways within a city or town excluding interstate or other limited access divided highways;
  • 35 mph on non-surface treated highways;
  • 25 mph in a business or residential district.


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants 18 years and older in the front seat must wear a safety belt.
  • Police may not stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.

Child Seats

  • Children 7 years and younger must be in a child seat unless they have a physical exemption. Any licensed physician may determine that use of a child seat would be impractical because of the child's weight, physical fitness, or other medical reason. The person transporting the must carry the doctor's signed statement.
  • Children in rear-facing devices must be in a rear seat if available; if not available, they may be placed in front only if front passenger airbag is deactivated.
  • Children 8 through 17 must be restrained and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $50.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

  • When you see vehicles displaying flashing, blinking or alternating blue, red, or amber lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway, you must do the following:
    • If on a highway with at least 4 lanes, 2 of which are proceeding as the approaching vehicle, and it is safe to do so, make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the vehicle.
    • If changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe, proceed with caution and maintain a safe speed for road conditions.

Following

  • Do not follow any fire apparatus or rescue squad vehicle traveling in response to a fire alarm or emergency call at any distance closer than 500 feet to such apparatus or rescue squad vehicle or to park such vehicle within 500 feet of where fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address;
    • Driver's license number;
    • Vehicle registration number;
    • Show driver's license upon request;
    • Proof of insurance and registration, if requested by officer.
  • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • If the driver fails to stop and provide information as required, every person 16 and older who was in the vehicle with the driver at the time of the accident, who has knowledge of the accident, must make sure that a report is made to the State Police or local law enforcement within 24 hours. The report must include the person's name, address, and any of the information the driver is required to report within the person's knowledge.
  • Unattended vehicle or property
    • If you have collided with an unattended vehicle or other property that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name, address, driver license number, and vehicle registration number.
    • If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information, a statement of the date, time, and place, and a description of the property damage. You must also report the accident in writing to law enforcement within 24 hours.


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