Virginia Rating: Danger

Virginia needs improvement because of gaps in Advocates’ recommended optimal laws, as reported in in the 2019 Roadmap Report.

Highway Safety Laws Needed

  • Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law (Front & Rear)
  • Booster Seat Law
GDL – Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit
  • GDL- Stronger Supervised Driving Requirement
  • GDL – Stronger Nighttime Restriction
  • GDL – Stronger Passenger Restriction
  • GDL- Age 18 for Unrestricted License
  • Open Container Law
  • GDL Cell Phone Restriction (Without S)

Current Optimal Highway Safety Laws

  • All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law
  • Rear Facing Through Age 2 Law
  • GDL – 6-Month Holding Period Provision
  • Ignition Interlocks Law for All Offenders
  • Child Endangerment Law
All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction

*States are credited with having laws only if their laws meet Advocates’ optimal criteria

Hot Now: Graduated Driver Licensing Laws

In 2017, 83 people were killed in crashes involving young drivers in Virginia.

The current GDL law in Virginia includes the following components:

  • A three-stage licensing system beginning at age 15 years and 6 months for learner’s permit, age 16 years and 3 months for the intermediate stage, and age 18 for full licensure
  • A mandatory 9 month holding period for the learner’s permit stage
  • A minimum of 45 hours of supervised practice driving during the learner’s permit stage, at least 15 of which must be at night
  • A prohibition on unsupervised nighttime driving between midnight and 4 a.m. during the intermediate stage (secondary enforcement)
  • A passenger restriction prohibiting more than one passenger younger than age 18 for the first twelve months after licensure and prohibiting more than three passengers younger than age 18 for the remainder of the intermediate stage (secondary enforcement)
  • A prohibition on non-emergency use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones for drivers younger than age 18 (secondary enforcement)
  • A prohibition on texting while driving for all drivers (secondary enforcement)

These changes are needed to improve Virginia’s GDL law and meet optimal GDL provisions:

  • Require age 16 for entry into the learner’s permit stage
  • Extend all restrictions on teen drivers through age 17
  • Require a passenger restriction to prohibit more than one non-familial passenger under the age of 21 unless a licensed driver over age 21 is in the vehicle, for the entire intermediate stage through age 17
  • Add a nighttime teen driving restriction
  • Add a prohibition on non-emergency use of cell phones and other communications devices , including texting while driving, during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages

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