West Virginia New Resident Guide

Welcome to West 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 West 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

  • Within 30 days of taking up residence in the state, a driver must apply to the DMV for a driver's license unless exempt from the requirement.
  • New Residents must have their vehicles titled and registered within thirty days of establishing residency.
  • If you change your address you are required to notify, in writing, the DMV within 20 days of the change.

Graduated Licensing Program

Instructional Permit


  • Must be at least 15;
  • Must provide proof of school enrollment or completion;
  • Must pass vision screening and written knowledge test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Must have a licensed driver age 21 or older in front seat at all times;
  • May not have more than 2 additional non-family passengers in addition to supervising adult;
  • May only drive between 5 AM and 10 PM;
  • Handheld cell phone use not permitted;
  • All occupants required to use safety belts;
  • Zero alcohol tolerance.

Intermediate License


  • Must be 16 years old;
  • Must provide proof of school enrollment or completion;
  • Must have completed 50 hours of supervised practice driving including 10 hours at night, or a Driver's Education Card;
  • Must have held a permit with no violations for at least 6 months;
  • Must pass road skills test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May not drive unsupervised between 10 PM and 5 AM, except:
    • Traveling to and from employment.
    • Traveling for a school or religious activity.
    • An emergency situation requiring driving in order to prevent bodily injury or death.
  • For first 6 months, you may not operate a motor vehicle with any non-family member under the age of 20.
  • For the second 6 months, you may not operate a motor vehicle with more than 1 non-family member under the age of 20.
  • Handheld cell phone use not permitted.
  • All occupants required to use safety belts.
  • Zero alcohol tolerance.



  • Must be at least 17;
  • Must provide proof of school enrollment or completion;
  • Must have held Intermediate License at least 1 year with no traffic violations.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • All occupants required to use safety belts.
  • Zero alcohol tolerance under age 21.

Violation Point Counts

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

8 Point Violations

  • Fleeing from an officer

6 Point Violations

  • Speeding in a school zone
  • Reckless/careless driving
  • Hit & run (leaving the scene or failure to reveal ID)
  • Speeding 20 MPH or more over limit

5 Point Violations

  • Speeding 15 to 19 MPH over limit

3 Point Violations

  • Speeding 11 to 14 MPH over limit
  • 3 or more wireless communication device violations (any combination of talking and/or texting)
  • Passing violation
  • Failure to yield violation
  • Failure to obey traffic light
  • Failure to obey stop sign
  • Hazardous driving
  • Driving left of center
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Failure to maintain control of vehicle
  • Careless driving
  • Driving the wrong way on a one way street
  • Littering
  • Improper lane violation
  • Failure to observe a safety zone
  • Failure to follow a police officer's instructions
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road

2 Point Violations

  • Following too closely
  • More than three passengers in the front seat
  • Improper turning
  • Improper backing
  • Improper signal or no signal
  • All other moving violations not listed

Driving Record

Points for a given infraction remain on a driver's record for two years after the date of the driver's conviction for that infraction; the infraction itself remains on a driver's record for five years.

  • 12 to 13 points - 30 day suspension.
  • 14 to 15 points - 45 day suspension.
  • 16 to 17 points - 60 day suspension.
  • 18 to 19 points - 90 day suspension.
  • 20+ points - suspension until accumulated points are reduced to 11 or fewer.

Insurance Requirements

West Virginia law mandates that all motorists driving on the state's public roads must carry motor vehicle liability insurance. The minimum amount of coverage, as provided by law is:

  • $20,000 for one death or injury.
  • $40,000 for two deaths or injuries.
  • $10,000 for property damage.

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:

  • From sunset to sunrise.
  • During fog, smoke, rain, or at any other time when persons and vehicles cannot be seen clearly at a distance of 500 feet.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.

Implied Consent Laws


  • First Refusal - Revocation 1 year or 45 days plus 1 year ignition interlock
  • Second Refusal - Revocation 10 years (5 years mandatory) plus 1 year ignition interlock
  • Third or Subsequent Refusal - Revocation for life
  • Revocation shall run concurrently with the period of suspension/revocation imposed under other provisions of law and growing out of the same incident which gave rise for the arrest.


  • Under WV law, a child may be taken into custody if a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that person has been operating a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their body. The law requires the child be warned that a refusal to submit to the implied consent test could result in a license suspension.

DUI Penalties

First Offense (misdemeanor) (BAC .08 or more)

  • Up to 6 months imprisonment;
  • $100 - $500 fine;
  • 6 months license revocation, or 15 days revocation plus 120 days ignition interlock;
  • Alcohol and drug education or treatment required for license reinstatement.

First Offense (BAC .15 or more)

  • 2 days - 6 months imprisonment;
  • $200 - $1,000 fine;
  • 45 days license revocation plus 275 days ignition interlock;
  • Alcohol and drug education or treatment required for license reinstatement.

Second Offense (within 10 years) (misdemeanor)

  • 6 months - 1 year imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $3,000 fine;
  • 10 years license revocation;
  • Alcohol and drug education or treatment required for license reinstatement;
  • 2 years ignition interlock.

Third or Subsequent Offense (within 10 years) (Felony)

  • 1 - 3 years imprisonment;
  • $3,000 - $5,000 fine;
  • License revocation for life;
  • Alcohol and drug education or treatment required for license reinstatement;
  • 3 years ignition interlock.

Community Service

  • In lieu of a fine or incarceration sanction (except mandatory incarceration via statute), a court may impose community service with government entities, or charitable or other nonprofit organizations which have been approved by the court.

Child Endangerment

  • A person who commits DUI with a passenger under the age of 16 shall be punished by a sentence of not less than 2 days or more than 12 months and not less than $200 or more than $1,000.
  • Also subject to additional ignition interlock requirements.

Open Container Law

The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.

Red Light Violation Fines

  • West Virginia does not have a state law governing red light fines.
  • Red light cameras prohibited.

Construction Zone Penalties

Speeding violations when workers are present are subject to enhanced penalties of up to $200, 20 days in jail, or both.

Turn Signal Information

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

Hazard Light Information

Hazard light use is permitted for the purpose of indicating that the vehicle is disabled or otherwise stopped for an emergency.

Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws

  • The law requires other vehicles, except emergency vehicles or when directed otherwise by a police officer, to yield the right-of-way to funeral processions.
  • All non-law enforcement escort vehicles must exhibit at least one flashing amber or purple light. Each vehicle must follow the other as closely as safely possible.
  • When the lead vehicle lawfully enters an intersection, the other vehicles in the procession may follow without regard to any traffic control devices as long as each vehicle exercises due care.

School Bus Laws


  • Vehicles are required to stop unless the bus is on a different roadway of or adjacent to a controlled access highway, where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.
  • Vehicles must stop at least 20 feet from the school bus.


  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a minimum of 30 days driver's license suspension and a minimum fine of $150 for the first offense.

Bicyclist Passing Distance

There is no specific law regarding minimum safe passing distance.

Motorcycle Laws


  • A separate motorcycle examination is required to obtain a license that authorizes the operation of a motorcycle. The examination tests the applicant's knowledge of the operation of a motorcycle, any traffic laws relating to the operation of a motorcycle, and includes an actual demonstration of the ability to drive a motorcycle.
  • Upon successful completion of an examination and paying the required fees, the DMV shall include a motorcycle endorsement on the license of the applicant or shall issue a special motorcycle-only license if the applicant does not possess a license.

Protective Gear

  • The operator or passengers on a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle must wear a protective helmet with a neck or chin-strap; and safety, shatter-resistant eyeglasses, eye goggles, or face shields.
  • If any motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or moped is equipped with a windshield or windscreen, the windshield or windscreen must be constructed of safety, shatter-resistant material.


  • Every motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, and moped must display lighted headlamps at all times when on the highway.

Sharing the Road

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

Using the Shoulder to Pass

You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.

Passing Laws

Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

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

  • 55 mph on open country highways, controlled-access highways and interstate highways.
    • Note: The law provides that the speed limit "shall be not be less than" 55 mph for controlled-access and interstate highways;
  • 25 mph in a business or residential district;
  • 15 mph in a school zone.

Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws

Safety Belts

  • Occupants 8 years and older in the front seat, and occupants 8 - 17 years in all seats, must wear safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.

Child Seats

  • Children 7 years and younger and less than 4'9" must be in a child seat.
  • Children 7 years and younger and 4'9" or taller 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 $20.

Emergency Vehicle Laws

Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicle.
    • Tow truck.
  • You must do the following:
    • If on a highway having at least four lanes with not less than two lanes proceeding in the same direction as the approaching vehicle, proceed with due caution, make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the vehicle, and reduce speed to a safe level for road conditions.
    • If changing lanes would be impossible or unsafe, proceed with due caution, reduce the speed of the vehicle, and maintain a safe speed, not to exceed:
      • 15 MPH on any nondivided highway or street.
      • 25 MPH on any divided highway depending on road conditions.


  • Do not follow any authorized emergency vehicle traveling in response to a fire alarm or other emergency closer than five hundred feet or drive into or park such vehicle within the block where such authorized emergency vehicle has stopped in answer to a fire alarm or other emergency.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop:
    • 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.
    • The driver may leave the scene of the crash to render assistance to an injured person.
  • 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;
    • Vehicle registration number;
    • Show driver's license upon request.
  • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • Unattended vehicle or property:
    • If you have collided with a vehicle that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name and address and the owner's name and address. If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information and a statement of the circumstances.
    • If you have collided with other unattended property on or adjacent to a highway, locate and notify the owner of the driver's name and address, the vehicle registration number, and show your driver's license if requested. You must also report the accident in writing.
  • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more, you must report the accident as quickly as possible to the local police department, county sheriff, or State Police. If the driver is unable to make the report, any other occupant of the vehicle who is able to must do so.
  • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more, you must report the accident in writing within 24 hours after the accident, unless the accident was investigated by a law enforcement officer.