Teen Driving Laws in West Virginia

July 31, 2023

Learning to drive and receiving a license is a major milestone for teenagers in West Virginia and throughout the US. However, each state handles licensing requirements differently. Here, our Martinsburg accident lawyers want to review West Virginia law related to teenage driving, particularly focusing on obtaining a permit and a driver’s license. We will also examine texting and driving laws in West Virginia.

Receiving an Instructional Permit (Level 1)

When an individual turns 15 years of age in West Virginia, they are allowed to apply for their instructional permit (Graduated Driver’s Licensing or GDL). If an individual is under the age of 18, they must have a parent sign the application before they can be tested.

Individuals will take a knowledge test in order to obtain the instructional permit, and this permit is due to expire on a personal’s 18th birthday. When a person has an instructional permit, they must operate the vehicle only if there is a licensed driver 21 years of age or over in the front seat. Individuals may operate the vehicle between the hours of 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM, and there is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol consumption.

An Intermediate Driver’s License (Level 2)

An intermediate driver’s license has different requirements. First, individuals must hold their instructional permit for at least six months, and they must be infraction free for six months preceding their application for this intermediate driver’s license. When applying for an intermediate license, individuals must have a 50-hour certificate form completed, and ten of these hours must be at night. These hours must be certified by a legal guardian, parent, or driver’s education certificate.

In order to obtain this Level 2 license, individuals must be at least 16 years of age, and they will be required to take a road skills test.

If individuals receive two traffic violations when they have their intermediate license, the license will be revoked until they turn 18 years of age. During the first six months of having a Level 2 license, individuals are not allowed to operate the vehicle with any non-family members under the age of 20. During the second six months of having this license, individuals may not operate the vehicle with more than one non-family member under the age of 20. Again, there is zero tolerance for alcohol consumption at this level.

Individuals are allowed to operate without a supervising adult between the hours of 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM, and they must be accompanied by an adult during these other time frames except when they are participating to or returning from:

  • An emergency situation
  • Employment
  • A school activity
  • Religious activity

Obtaining a Full Driver’s License (Level 3)

In order to obtain a Level 3 license in West Virginia, individuals must have had their intermediate license for at least one year. Additionally, individuals must be infraction free for at least a year, and they must be at least 17 years of age before applying.

This license also expires, but this time on the individual’s 21st birthday. At this point, actual points will be applied for any traffic infractions, and there is still a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving.

Texting and Driving

West Virginia has had a ban on using a cell phone or texting behind the wheel without using hands-free technology since July 2012. However, individuals who have a Level 1 or Level 2 driver’s license in West Virginia are prohibited from using a cell phone or texting at all, even through a hands-free device.

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