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Driver Tests Overview in Virginia

A Virginia drivers test consists of a behind-the-wheel exam, vision exam and written exam. Drivers tests are administered at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You need to take a drivers license test before you can obtain your learners permit, driver’s license or other DMV driving credentials. A driving test and written exam can be taken more than once if you do not pass on your first attempt. Additionally, you should know that the knowledge test is administered in two parts that cover traffic signs and signals, as well as motor vehicle laws. Studying for your DMV drivers test will increase your chances of passing on your first try. Below, discover how to prepare for your drivers exam in Virginia and how to pass your vision, written and skills tests.

When are Virginia driver tests required?

A Virginia drivers license test can be required in a number of circumstances. First, drivers tests are necessary if you are applying for your first learners permit or driving license. The testing requirements may differ for learner’s permits and drivers licenses. Second, you may need to take a drivers license exam if you have moved to Virginia from another state or country. A driving exam may be necessary even if you already have a license in a different state or country. However, you usually only have to take a vision exam if you are a new Virginia resident and you already have a driver’s license. Third, a driving test may be mandatory if you received a license suspension and are trying to reinstate your driving privileges. You will also need to take a VA drivers license test if you want to change to a new class of license, such as a commercial driver’s license. Finally, drivers license testing can be requested when your vision changes. For example, vision tests can be retaken if you have corrective eye surgery that eliminates your need to wear glasses.

Vision Requirements for Driving Exams in Virginia

Before taking other driving tests in Virginia, you will usually need to take a vision test. The vision portion of the drivers license test requires that you read lines of letters and numbers from a machine. You will pass this driving test if your visual acuity and peripheral vision meets certain standards. Eligibility for an unrestricted license requires you to have 20/40 vision or better in at least one eye. Additionally, you need at least 110 degrees of peripheral vision. Failing to meet these standards does not mean you cannot get a driver license. You can pass the driving license vision tests if you have 20/70 vision in at least one eye and 70 degrees of peripheral vision. However, you are only eligible for a restricted drivers license. Passing a Virginia drivers license test with these standards will result in a “daylight hours only” restriction printed on your license. Additionally, note that the vision standards are more rigid if you are applying for a commercial driver’s license rather than a regular license.

Virginia Written Drivers Test

Written driving tests in Virginia consist of two parts. Passing a written drivers exam requires that you answer questions about road signs, traffic laws, driving techniques and other general driving knowledge topics. The first part of a written drivers test includes 10 questions about traffic signs and road markings. You need to answer all 10 questions correctly to proceed to the second part of the written exam. In the second part of your exam, you must answer general knowledge questions based on the content of the Virginia driver’s manual. You need to get a score of at least 80 percent to pass the second portion of the written exam.

Before taking written driving exams in Virginia, you may be able to take a drivers ed test to practice. A practice DMV drivers test may be offered in your drivers ed program. If not, then you may study for the knowledge test by using the guides available on the Virginia DMV website. Sample exams are available as well. When taking the written driving exam in Virginia, make sure that you do not use a cell phone, talk to other test-takers or look at any notes. Offering or receiving help on the exam is considered cheating and you will not pass.

If you fail the written Virginia drivers exam, then you can retake it the following business day. Written driving tests can be taken a total of three times before you need to take additional steps. Before taking the exam for a fourth attempt, you must wait until you have completed the classroom portion of your driver’s education program. If you are older than 18 years of age and are not enrolled in drivers ed, then you may complete a supplemental eight-hour course on the Virginia driver manual. If you are younger than 18 years of age and have failed the written drivers exam three times, then you may be eligible to take the supplemental driver’s manual course as well. A certificate showing you completed the course must be presented before retaking your exam.

Behind-the-Wheel Driving Tests in Virginia

A Virginia driving skills exam can be taken at most DMV locations. To see if driving exams are offered at your local DMV, you may wish to call the office ahead of time. A driving test appointment is optional, but it will ensure that you receive an appointment at a time that is convenient for you. Appointments are not available online and must be scheduled in person or over the phone instead. Taking a drivers license test in Virginia requires that you provide your own vehicle. To be eligible for the Virginia driving exam, your vehicle must have:

  • A safety inspection sticker.
  • License plates and a registration card.
  • Working brakes.
  • Headlights, tail lights and turn signals that function.
  • Functional components, such as safety belts, a horn, mirrors and a speedometer.

You can take a Virginia driving test three times before you need to complete additional steps. If you do not pass your drivers exam on the first three tries, then you need to complete behind-the-wheel training with a DMV-approved drivers education program. To retake your VA driving license test, you must present a certificate of completion from your program.