Teen Driving and the Graduated License in West Virginia
West Virginia has a Graduate Driver Licensing Program (GDL). GDL laws have been proven to reduce fatalities, lower injuries and ultimately result in safer highways and roadways. New drivers who participate in the GDL system must reach various milestones before they are allowed to graduate to a less restrictive license level and eventually receive a full unrestricted license. The rules described below explain how West Virginia’s GDL system works.
The West Virginia Level 1 Permit Under 18
Applicants for the West Virginia Level 1 permit must be a minimum of 15 years of age to qualify. All first time applicants must present valid identification and proof of residency in the form of a certified birth certificate, a social security card and two documents evidencing residency in West Virginia. To view all qualifying documents for identification and residency please use the State of West Virginia links at the end of this page.
Applicants must have parental consent indicated on their permit application. If the applicant is married, parental consent is waived, however a married applicant must provide a marriage certificate. Teen drivers must also provide a valid school driver eligibility certificate proving attendance from their local school board. If the applicant has completed school they must provide a certificate of completion. Teen drivers must also pass a knowledge test and a vision screening prior to receiving an instruction permit.
After all the criteria have been met, the teen driver will receive a State of West Virginia Instruction Permit (also called a Level 1 permit or Level 1 license). Drivers who hold an instruction permit may only drive while accompanied by a licensed driver that is at least 21 years of age between the hours of 5:00 am and 11:00 pm. Passengers are limited to two additional passengers plus the teen driver and the supervising adult. All passengers and the driver must wear safety belts at all times while driving. Instruction Permit holders may not use a cell-phone, text messaging device or any wireless communication device unless they are calling 911 in the event of an emergency.
The Instruction Permit may not be renewed. If the permit expires the teen driver must retest for the permit and hold it in good standing without a traffic conviction for 180 days before applying for a Level 2 license. The permit is valid until the teen driver reaches the age of 18. After the instruction permit holder turns 18 they receive a 30 day time period to complete the road skills examination that will qualify them for a Level 2 license (also known as an Intermediate License).
The West Virginia Intermediate License (Level 2 License)
Teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 18 that have completed all of the requirements listed above for the instruction permit are eligible for a Level 2 license. Applicants must have at least 180 days of consecutive driving without a traffic conviction immediately prior to the application for the Level 2 license. Applicants must present valid identification and proof of residency. To view all qualifying documents for identification and residency please use the State of West Virginia links at the end of this page.
Applicants must provide a log sheet proving at least 50 hours of driving practice certified by a parent or legal guardian or present a certificate of completion from a department of education approved driver education course. Teen drivers must also provide a valid school driver eligibility certificate proving attendance from their local school board. If the applicant has completed school they must provide a certificate of completion. Teen drivers must pass a Road Skills Test before receiving a Level 2 license.
After all of the criteria have been met the teen driver will receive a Level 2 License. Level 2 license holders may not use a cell-phone, text messaging device or any wireless communication device unless they are calling 911 in the event of an emergency. Teen drivers that hold a level 2 license may drive alone between the hours of 5:00 am and 10:00 pm. Outside of those hours the teen driver must be accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years of age. The exceptions to the restricted driving hours are listed below.
- driving to or from a place of employment Driving to or from a school sanctioned activity
- driving to or from a religious activity
- driving during emergency situations to prevent bodily injury or death of another
Level 2 license holders are limited to 3 passengers under the age of 19 that are not immediate family members.
State of West Virginia Level 3 License
Teen drivers must be a minimum of 17 years of age to receive a West Virginia Level 3 License. Applicants under the age of 18 that have held a Level 2 License and meet all of the requirements for a Level 3 License may choose to keep their existing Level 2 License with restrictions until they reach the age of 18. If the under 18 Level 2 License holder does choose to move to a Level 3 License they must:
- be at least 17 years of age
- have held a Level 2 License for a minimum of 1 year
- been free of traffic convictions for at least 1 year
There is a zero tolerance for teen drivers that are found driving with any alcohol in their system. All passengers and the driver must wear seat belts at all times.
Insurance Requirements in the State of West Virginia
The State of West Virginia requires all vehicles registered in the state to maintain a minimum amount of liability insurance. Drivers must carry proof of insurance with them at all time while driving and must present this proof when requested by a law enforcement officer. The minimum insurance amounts are reflected below.
- $20,000 Bodily Injury for one Accident
- $40,000 Bodily Injury for two or more Injuries in one Accident
- $10,000 Damage to the Property of Others
The DMV verifies insurance information at the time of registration; however verification of insurance may be conducted at any time. Drivers that fail to meet the insurance requirements may have their license and registration suspended.