west virginia driver information
Hi there, West Virginia drivers. Welcome to our overview of driving in the Mountain State. You'll find info on official driving records, the state's point system, and how to get a drivers license in West Virginia.
West Virginia driving stats
Licensed drivers: 1,329,000
Registered vehicles: 1,412,000
Your West Virginia driving record
Your driving record plays a major role in what you pay for car insurance. We'll explain how West Virginia tracks and penalizes certain driving violations.
West Virginia's point system
West Virginia uses a point system to record traffic violations and track driving history. If you're convicted of a traffic violation anywhere in the U.S., you'll receive 2–8 points on your record.
The more serious the infraction, the more points on your record. Speeding 5-9 mph over the posted limit nets 2 points, while evading a police officer is penalized with 8 points.
Tallying 12 or more points may result in a license suspension.
Visit the West Virginia DMV's site for more info on specific infractions and suspensions.
How long points stay on your driving record
Traffic violation points you receive in West Virginia will stay on your record for 2 years from the date of conviction. The violation itself stays on your driving record for 5 years.
Remove points with defensive driving class
West Virginia allows drivers to remove 3 points from their driving records by taking and completing a DMV-approved defensive driver course.
DUIs in West Virginia
Drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher are considered legally drunk in West Virginia. The limit for impaired driving is a BAC of .05, which is grounds for a license suspension.
Penalties for a DUI
Most DUI convictions, even first offenses, result in a fine of at least $100, a suspended drivers license for at least 15 days, and possible jail time.
For many offenders, participation in an ignition interlock program (submitting to a breathalyzer every time you start the car) is a condition for getting their drivers licenses reinstated.
Distracted driving in West Virginia
As of July 2012, it is illegal to use a handheld phone while driving (including texting). While the texting ban will be enacted as a primary law, the ban on talking on handheld phones will be a secondary law until July 2013.
A primary law allows police officers to pull you over for that infraction alone.
Reporting car accidents in West Virginia
Drivers must report any accident that involves injury or more than $500 in property damage to the police within 5 days of its occurrence.
We recommend calling the police to the scene of any car accident, no matter how minor the damage initially appears.
Your West Virginia drivers license
New residents have 30 days to exchange their out-of-state drivers licenses for West Virginia ones.
As long as your old license is still valid, you won't have to retake any driving exams. You'll simply receive your new license after passing a vision test and participating in a brief alcohol awareness course.
West Virginia's Drive for 5 licensing
Your drivers license expires whenever your age is divisible by 5 (25, 30, 35, etc.).
Drivers who don't need a West Virginia license
The following drivers are not required to get a West Virginia drivers license:
- Military personnel operating a vehicle as part of active duty
- College students attending a university in the state
- Licensed non-residents who drive in the state for 90 days per year or fewer
The student-driver process in West Virginia
There are 3 levels to West Virginia's graduated licensing program: the permit level, intermediate level, and full license level. We'll walk you through the key points and restrictions of each stage.
Level 1: how to get your instruction permit
- Be at least 15 years old
- Be enrolled in school (if under 18)
- Pass vision screening
- Pass road-knowledge test
Limits to an instruction permit
- Must always have a licensed driver 21 or older in the front passenger seat
- No driving between 10 p.m.–5 a.m.
- No more than 2 passengers allowed (not including family members or a supervising adult)
- No wireless communication devices while driving (unless it's an emergency)
Level 2: how to get your intermediate license
- Be at least 16 years old
- Be enrolled in school (if under 18)
- Drive incident-free for 6 months while holding an instruction permit
- Complete 50 hours of parent/guardian-supervised driving practice (10 at night) or a drivers ed course
- Pass the road-skills test
Limits on intermediate license
- No unsupervised night driving (10 p.m.–5 a.m.) unless it's for a specific activity, like work or an emergency
- No passengers under 20 allowed for first 6 months; no more than one passenger under 20 allowed for next 6 months (family members not included)
- No cell phone use (including hands-free devices) except in an emergency
Level 3: how to get your full drivers license
- Be at least 17 years old
- Haven't had any driving convictions in the previous year
Getting a license if you're 18 or older
If you're 18 or older when you applying for your first drivers license, you don't need to go through the above graduated licensing program.
Instead, you'll get an instruction permit, which you'll need to hold for at least 30 days. After this period, you can take the road test and apply for your full, unrestricted drivers license.
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West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles
West Virginia's official licensing and registration authority.