Arlington National Cemetery, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Jamestown and the Shenandoah Valley are just a few of Virginia’s destinations that bring visitors flooding into the state all year long. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee called “The Old Dominion” home, and the colonial era is still alive with re-enactments and world class collections all across the state. Virginia’s coastline provides mesmerizing Atlantic panoramas, and the Blue Ridge range is home to a host of mountain wildlife which can be spotted from a number of drives through the state. Whether driving through the mountains, cruising along the coastline or pulling up to historic Mt. Vernon, CheapCarInsurance.net wants to make sure Virginia drivers are protected and informed. All the useful facts for driving and insuring in Virginia have been picked from all over and organized right here.
LAWS & REGULATIONS
Although Virginia’s government has been consistently ranked as the most efficient in the U.S., driving laws and regulations are constantly changing. These quick facts cover all the necessary Virginia driving information to help drivers stay ahead of the change and equipped to stay better protected while on the road.
Virginia’s Minimum Requirements for Car Insurance
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles offers 2 requirements for drivers who own a state-registered vehicle: Liability Insurance and Uninsured Motorist Coverage. Drivers wishing to forego insurance may choose to pay an Uninsured Motorist Vehicle Fee. The fee allows drivers to abstain from insuring their vehicle; however, in the event of damage or injury resulting from an accident the driver caused, any and all assets may be seized to pay for the damages.
- Liability minimums in Virginia:
- $25,000 per individual.
- $50,000 per traffic accident
- $20,000 per traffic accident in which property was damaged.
New Driver Licensing Requirements
According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), every driver in the state must possess a valid driver’s license within 60 days of residency. New drivers may apply for a Learner’s Permit (explained below) at age 15 years, 6 months, and they may apply for a Driver’s License at age 16 years, 3 months.
To obtain a permit or a license, the applicant must successfully pass the vision and knowledge tests. The road skills test is required only for the driver license, and it cannot be taken prior to holding a permit for at least 60 days. Different ages have certain requirements that must be fulfilled:
- If under 19 years of age, new drivers must complete an approved driver education course and obtain a Learner’s Permit.
- If under 18 years of age, a parent or legal guardian must sign the driver education certificate.
- If over 19 years of age, the applicant must either complete the driver education course to apply for a regular driver’s license or hold a Learner’s Permit for 60 days.
Included in the driver education criteria must be 14 in-car instruction periods. These periods must be evenly divided between behind-the-wheel driving and in-car observation of other student drivers.
The permit allows the applicant to drive only with:
- A licensed adult who is 21 years of age or older and is seated in the seat adjacent to the driver, OR
- A licensed driver who is 18 years of age or older and is the driver’s legal guardian, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother or step-sister.
If the permit holder is between 16 years, 3 months and 18 years of age, he/she may drive alone provided:
- The applicant has held a permit for at least 9 months, AND
- The applicant possesses a driver education completion certificate.
The following tests must be successfully completed be each applicant:
- Vision Screening. The minimum requirements for an unrestricted driver license includes a visual acuity of 20/40 or better and a visual field of 100 degrees or more. A daylight driving restriction may be given to applicants with a visual acuity between 20/40 and 20/70 and a visual field between 100 and 70 degrees. Bioptic telescopic lens restrictions are also available for drivers who require them.
- Knowledge Test. The Virginia Driver’s Manual provides the source material for the 2-part knowledge test. The test covers traffic signs in part 1 and general driving knowledge in part 2. A 100 percent in part 1 is required before moving on to part 2. A passing grade in part 2 is 80 percent.Failing the test has a few stipulations:
- If under 18, the applicant must wait 15 days to re-take.
- If 18 or older, the applicant may re-take the test within the 15 days; however, a $2.00 fee will be required.
- Upon a third failure, regardless of age, the applicant must take or re-take the classroom portion of the driver education requirement prior to re-testing.
- Road Test. If the applicant is under 19, this test is administered within the driver education course. Drivers over 19, must pass the road test by providing a licensed, insured and registered vehicle. The test administrator will ride with the applicant while he/she follows commands to demonstrate a variety of driving maneuvers.
Failing the test requires a 2-day waiting period, and upon a third failure, the driving portion of the driver educations requirement must be taken or re-taken.
- Fees. The following fees are required:
- Learner Permit: $3 plus $4 annual fee
- Regular License: $32 ($4 per year for the 8-year license)
- BAC limit: .08 Virginia State Law (§ 18.2-266) enforces DUI penalties and describes the determinate factors involved in an offense. The Virginia DMV has produced a concise brochure that details the far-reaching effects of DUI. The brochure can be accessed on their website.
- First Offense:
- License revocation: 1 year
- Fine: minimum $250
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed on the driver’s primary vehicle
- Second Offense within 10 years:
- Jail: minimum 10 days. If the second offense occurs within 5 years of prior offense, the minimum jail term is 20 days.
- License revocation: 3 years
- Fine: minimum $500
- IID installed on the driver’s primary vehicle, as well as any vehicle the driver co-owns or operates.
- Third Offense within 10 years:
- Jail: 90 days. If the third offense occurs within 5 years of a prior offense, the minimum jail term is 6 months.
- License revocation: mandatory indefinite
- Fine: maximum $1,000
- Permanent vehicle forfeiture
- In addition to these penalties, a $1,000 restitution fee may be required in each case.
- Additional penalties are required for offenses including minor passengers, injury collisions or property damage.
Texting & Driving Laws
Neither bus drivers nor novice drivers may use a cellphone while driving, and no driver may text while driving. Distraction.gov
Virginia is a great state, but even a great state can have some odd laws on the books. For example, swearing at someone over the phone is illegal, and bathtubs must be kept in the backyard. If a barbershop is operating without a permit, the permit states that the barbershop’s permit will be revoked! And spitting on a seagull is not permitted!
Average Car Insurance Premiums
Virginia’s average insurance premiums remain consistently lower than the national average. NAIC.org also revealed that the state’s average premiums as a percentage of income also remain below the national average.
Drunk Driving Fatalities
Although Virginia’s drunk driving fatalities’ average matched the nation’s in 2011, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows an up and down relationship to the national average over the last two years.
Teen Drinking and Driving
The Centers for Disease Control reported that Virginia teens drink and drive less than the majority of their counterparts.
Vehicular Theft in Virginia
In a 2012 report by the FBI, Virginia’s vehicle theft rate was reported to be 110.9, down nearly 10 points from the year before. The state’s rate is far below the national average and continues to decline.