Driver education programs help you gain the skills and experience needed to pass your driving test and build lifelong good driving habits. They are available statewide to residents of all ages.
The program includes 36 classroom sessions, seven driving sessions, seven observation sessions and a final road skills examination. Each session is 50 minutes long.
Completing a driver education program gets you a completion certificate, which most new drivers need to qualify for a permanent driver's license.
Anyone 15 years and 6 months or older can take the classroom portion without a learner's permit. You need a learner's permit to take the driving portion.
- Where Do I Take Driver Education?
- Who Is Required to Take Driver Education?
- 90-Minute Parent/Teen Component
- Exchanging Your Out-of-State License
If you are home-schooled, see Driver Education for Home-Schooled Students.
If you are a Virginia resident under 18 years old, before you can get your driver's license, you are required to either:
- Complete a Virginia-approved driver education program and hold your Virginia learner's permit for at least nine months, or
- Have completed an out-of-state driver education program and hold your Virginia learner's permit for at least nine months
- The out-of-state program must provide proof you have completed at least 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of in-car instruction.
Note: Your parent, guardian or foster parent must provide their driver's license or state-issued identification card number and sign the driver education completion certificate, which attests to your academic standing and certifies that you have driven at least 45 hours (15 of which occurred after sunset).
If you are a Virginia resident age 18 or older and have never held a license issued by any state, U.S. territory or foreign country, there are two options to get your driver's license.
Option 1: Complete a driver education program and pass the driver's license knowledge exam.
- You are required to apply for and receive a learner's permit. However, completing driver education, including the end of course skills exam, waives the mandatory 60-day holding period and taking a DMV- administered skills exam.
- This waives the need for a driver education program. However, a licensed driver must certify they were with you while you practiced, and that you have complied with all requirements for learner's permit holders while operating a motor vehicle.
For students under 18, there is an additional 90-minute parent/teen component to the classroom portion of the driver education curriculum. It covers topics such as juvenile driving restrictions and the dangers of driving while intoxicated.
You and a parent or guardian must complete this component in person if you live in Planning District 8 (counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park).
You are exempt from the 90-minute parent/teen component if you are:
- at least 18 years old
- an emancipated minor
- an unaccompanied minor who is not in the physical custody of your parent or guardian
What is an unaccompanied minor?
An unaccompanied minor is a minor who may be separated from their parents and living with others who do not have custody for a variety of reasons.
After an unaccompanied minor has completed their training, they must check the appropriate box on the Virginia Driver Training Certificate of Classroom Completion regarding the exemption from the parent/teen component and sign the certificate before the license can be processed.
DMV may exchange your out-of-state license for a Virginia license if you meet the following conditions:
- You are at least age 16 and three months but under age 18 and hold a valid license
- You have successfully completed a driver education program while residing in another state, and the program meets a minimum of 30 classroom hours and six in-car instruction hours
- You can present all documents required for the driver's license or driver privilege card you are applying for. See our Interactive Document Guide for more guidance.
If you hold a current out-of-state driver's license but do not have proof of driver education, you may be issued a Virginia six-month temporary license. This will give you time to get proof or complete a state-approved driver education program.