Virginia Driving Laws: What You Need To Know To Stay Legal

Published: May 8, 2023
Last updated: August 1, 2023

Welcome to Virginia, a state steeped in history and boasting a rich tapestry of scenic landscapes. As you prepare to explore the Old Dominion State, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with Virginia driving laws to ensure the safety of all road users.

This comprehensive guide will cover licensing requirements, rules of the road, seatbelt, and child restraint laws, distracted driving laws, DUI and alcohol-related offenses, and teen driving laws. By understanding and following these regulations, you'll be well-equipped to drive safely and responsibly throughout Virginia.

Road Safety in Virginia

Home to over 8.5 million residents and a popular destination for tourists, Virginia's roads can be bustling and, at times, challenging to navigate. Highway safety is paramount in the state, as evidenced by the latest traffic statistics.

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), there were approximately 118,498 traffic crashes in 2021, resulting in over 58,786 injuries and more than 968 fatalities. By staying informed and adhering to Virginia driving laws, you can contribute to reducing these sobering numbers and promoting a safer driving environment for everyone.

Licensing Requirements in VA

In Virginia, obtaining a driver's license involves a few essential steps. First, you must meet the minimum age requirement of 15 years and six months to apply for a learner's permit. Next, you'll need to pass a vision test, a knowledge exam, and complete a driver education program approved by the Virginia DMV.

Once you've held your learner's permit for the required time (9 months for drivers under 18, 60 days for drivers 18 and older), you can apply for a provisional driver's license. This involves passing a road skills test and adhering to any additional restrictions, such as nighttime driving and passenger limitations. After holding a provisional license for a certain period, you can apply for a full, unrestricted driver's license.

Traffic Regulations

To maintain a safe driving environment, Virginia enforces numerous traffic regulations. Some of the most critical rules include:

  • Right-of-way: Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, emergency vehicles with activated sirens or lights, and other vehicles already in the intersection.

  • Turn signals: Use your turn signals to indicate your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet before the action.

  • Stop signs: Make a complete stop at a stop sign, and yield to any oncoming traffic or pedestrians.

  • Traffic signals: Obey all traffic signals, including red, yellow, and green lights.

Speed Limits

Virginia has established speed limits to promote safe driving conditions. Speed limits vary depending on the location and type of road:

  • Interstates: 70 mph maximum

  • Rural highways: 55 mph maximum

  • Urban areas: 35 mph maximum

  • School zones: 25 mph maximum

Always obey posted speed limits and adjust your speed according to road and weather conditions.

Seat Belt and Child Restraint Laws

Virginia law mandates seat belt use for all passengers. The driver and front-seat passengers must wear seat belts at all times. Passengers in the back seat who are 18 years or older must also wear seat belts.

Child restraint laws in Virginia require children under eight years old to be secured in a federally-approved child safety seat. Children under two years old must be in a rear-facing seat, while children between 2 and 8 years old should use a forward-facing seat or booster seat, depending on their height and weight.

Distracted Driving Laws

Distracted driving is a significant concern in Virginia, and the state has implemented strict laws to discourage such behavior. Texting while driving and using handheld devices is strictly prohibited. Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use any cell phones, even hands-free, except in emergencies. All drivers are encouraged to minimize distractions and focus on the road for their safety and the safety of others.

Drunk and Drugged Driving Laws

Virginia has a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers over 21 years old is 0.08%. For drivers under 21, the BAC limit is 0.02%. Commercial drivers must adhere to a BAC limit of 0.04%.

Drugged driving is also illegal in Virginia, and this includes prescription medications that impair driving abilities. Penalties for DUI offenses include fines, license suspension, ignition interlock device installation, and even imprisonment.

Penalties and Fines

Violating Virginia driving laws can result in various penalties and fines. These may include points on your driving record, fines, license suspension, or even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the violation. Accumulating too many points on your driving record within a specific timeframe may lead to additional penalties or mandatory attendance at a driver improvement clinic.


Virginia driving laws are in place to ensure the safety of all road users. By understanding and adhering to these regulations, you can contribute to a safer driving environment for everyone. Stay informed, drive responsibly, and remember that the rules of the road are there to protect us all.

We hope this guide to Virginia driving laws proves helpful as you navigate the state's diverse roads and landscapes. For more information on safe driving practices, tips, and updates, head over to Keep Driving!

Managing Editor Before joining Keep Driving, Elaine was an editor for an international internet technology consulting firm. She shows tremendous interest in writing about future technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learnings.
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