Novice drivers must complete driver’s ed in Virginia to obtain a drivers license. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires individuals younger than a certain age to complete the course and hold a learner’s permit to qualify for the license. This course serves as a training program that gradually introduces new drivers to state traffic laws and helps motorists get comfortable behind the wheel. The curriculum also covers the dangers of driving while impaired, traffic signals and road markings along with defensive driving techniques.

The Virginia DMV does not offer its own drivers education courses. However, it provides a list of approved providers who administer drivers ed online or in a classroom setting. Overall, the curriculum may vary slightly, depending on the institution administering the classes. On the other hand, the content generally remains the same. For more information on drivers ed classes in Virginia, review the sections below.

Who needs to take drivers ed in Virginia?

The VA driver’s ed test and course are only mandatory for a select category of drivers. Motorists who are younger than 18 years of age must complete the driver education program and maintain a learner’s permit for at least nine months to be eligible for a driver’s license. Teen drivers’ legal guardians also play a role in the program, as they may need to participate in a classroom portion of the course, depending on the county in which they live.

The Virginia DMV does not require drivers who are 18 years of age and older to complete teen driving school. They have the option of completing the adult driver’s ed course or holding a learner’s permit for at least two months.

Types of Drivers Ed Classes in Virginia

The driver education course that motorists must complete to obtain their license has three main components. The state refers to the first component as the classroom portion, even though students are not required to take the course in person. It teaches students the course materials, from traffic laws to the dangers of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

The second component is behind-the-wheel instruction, wherein new drivers practice driving on the road with a licensed instructor. The last portion of the driver’s education class is observation, which requires motorists to observe other drivers and the instructor while sitting in the backseat of the vehicle. There are three available methods to complete the course:

  • Through a public or private driver training school – The state has a list of approved providers who offer the full course including the classroom portion, behind-the-wheel training and observation.
  • Online – Motorists can complete the classroom component of the course through a state-approved online provider.
  • At home ­– Students who are homeschooled can complete the majority of the driver’s ed course at home. However, they must complete the classroom portion of the course through one of the methods mentioned above.

Legal guardians living in the Planning District 8 must participate in a 90-minute parent/teen lesson on parents’ responsibilities relating to driving restrictions, driving while impaired and a series of other topics.  The district includes the following counties:

  • Arlington
  • Fairfax
  • Loudoun
  • Prince William

The district also includes the following cities:

  • Alexandria
  • Fairfax
  • Falls Church
  • Manassas
  • Manassas Park

Legal guardians of students living outside of Planning District 8 may be also required to attend the course depending on the school division in which their children attend school. Contact your local DMV office to verify whether legal guardians are required to participate in drivers ed where you live.

Virginia Online Drivers Ed vs. In-Person Courses

Motorists can choose to take an in-person or online drivers ed course to fulfill the classroom component of the course. An online course is a popular option for many motorists as it offers flexibility and convenience. Students can work at their own pace and find a schedule that works for them.

Another benefit of taking a class online is the availability of additional course materials. Websites like offer over 40 free permit practice tests to help students prepare for the course and a free certificate of completion. The in-person course offers the ability to discuss certain chapters and have direct access to the instructor.

What will you learn in a Virginia drivers ed school?

A driver’s ed course in Virginia provides both theoretical and practical learning opportunities. The classroom-based portion of the courses follows a curriculum meant to educate students on traffic laws in Virginia. This includes the following:

  • Traffic signals and road markings.
  • Drug and/or alcohol consumption.
  • Citations and points on a driving record.

Students will also learn defensive driving techniques in driver’s ed school along with vehicle maintenance tips and emergency preparedness. The behind-the-wheel portion of the course allows students to gain experience driving on the road with other motorists while under the supervision of an instructor. The goal is to increase the driver’s confidence while driving and exposing him or her to situations they may face on the road. The observation portion serves as an additional source of learning for students as they observe the instructor and a fellow student driver who is behind the wheel.

Virginia Drivers Education Requirements

The state sets mandatory hours of instruction for each component of a Virginia driver’s education class. Students must complete all required hours to successfully complete the course. The classroom portion of the course includes 36 sessions, each lasting 50 minutes. The in-car instructions must total to at least 14 sessions: seven driving hours and seven observation hours.

In addition, students in certain districts must complete 90 minutes of a parent/teen session, which will discuss legal guardians’ roles in the course. Students taking VA driver’s ed must also pass a final exam to complete the course.

Benefits of a Virginia Driver Education Course

Fulfilling the state requirement is the biggest benefit of completing driver’s ed in Virginia. Motorists who do not complete the course cannot qualify for a driver’s or legally operate a vehicle on public highways. In addition, completing the course allows motorists to gradually get comfortable being behind the wheel.

The three components to the driver’s education course each hold importance in the teaching process and prepare students to face various situations as they drive. Moreover, some insurance companies offer an auto insurance discount to first-time drivers after completing their drivers’ ed courses.

How to Enroll in a Virginia Drivers Ed School

To enroll in a driver’s ed class in Virginia, motorists must ensure that they are choosing a provider that is approved by the state. The state DMV does not offer its own driver’s education course. As such, it provides a list of third-party providers who are qualified to offer the course and provide a certificate of completion. The second step in the enrollment process is choosing whether you want to take the course online or in person.

After choosing the provider and platform, students must register by submitting some personal information, including name and address. Paying for the course is the last step in the process. Keep in mind that the steps may vary by provider. Some require registrations over the phone while others like offer an easy registration process online.

Virginia DMV Drivers Ed Certificates

The Virginia teen driver’s ed certificate is a document proving that a student has successfully completed the course. It generally includes the student’s name, the date and the provider’s official seal. Some providers like offer the free delivery of the certificate while others charge a mailing fee.

Students younger than 18 must obtain their legal guardians’ signatures on the certificates before presenting them to the Virginia DMV. It certifies that the students meet the academic standing requirements and have completed the mandatory 45 hours of driving.

Drivers Ed for New Virginia Residents

New Virginia residents from 16 years and 3 months to 17 years of age must complete a state-approved DMV driver’s ed course to obtain a driver’s license. The Virginia DMV does not accept out-of-state certificates.

Virginia Drivers Ed vs. Traffic School

Driver’s ed in Virginia is a course designed for novice drivers who have little to no knowledge about traffic laws in the state. The course prepares students over a span of several weeks to learn the rules of the road and gain confidence behind the wheel.

Traffic school, on the other hand, is a refresher course for experienced drivers. They may take the course to fulfill a court order or remove points from their driving record. Some take the course to lower their car insurance premiums. The two factors that make these courses different are the level of driving experience and each course’s purpose.

Virginia Driver Education Fees

Drivers ed prices vary depending on the provider. Novice motorists can expect to pay between $50 and $300 to complete the course.

Last updated on Monday, March 2 2020.