Are you a homeschool parent or teen in Virginia? Are you seeking information about how homeschoolers can get a driver’s license? Then this post is for you!
The process of how to get your driver’s license if you're homeschooled is fairly involved. But don’t worry! In this blog post, we lay out all the steps to get a driver’s license in Virginia. We are going to answer questions such as:
- Can parents teach homeschool Driver’s Ed?
- Where can I take an approved homeschool driving course?
- And most importantly, what are the steps to get a driver’s license in Virginia?
By the end of this post you will know everything that homeschool parents and drivers need to know about getting a license. Let’s get started!
How to Get a Juvenile Homeschool Driver’s License
First of all, the requirements for a homeschooler to get a driver’s license depend on whether the driver is a juvenile (under age 18) or a legal adult. “Adults” only have to complete a subset of the juvenile requirements.
We are going to start with the full list of steps that juveniles have to complete in order to get a driver’s license in Virginia.
1. Enroll in the Classroom Portion of Driver’s Ed
Driver’s Ed is a two-part course that includes a knowledge portion and a Behind the Wheel assessment. The knowledge portion of driver’s ed is designed to be completed over the course of a semester (30 hours of instruction) and covers the contents of the Virginia Driver’s Manual.
The knowledge portion of homeschool driver’s ed can be started any time - before or after getting a learner’s permit. If a student fails the learner’s permit test three times, they will not be allowed to take the test again until after finishing the classroom portion of driver’s ed. The course covers the same material as the learner’s permit test, so we recommend you start sooner rather than later.
Homeschoolers can take the classroom portion of driver’s ed at a public, private, or commercial driving school. There are also several home study programs approved for homeschool driver’s ed. Regardless of where you take homeschool driver’s ed, there will be a test at the end.
2. Get a Learner’s Permit at the DMV
As a juvenile, the homeschooler will need to have a learner’s permit for a minimum of 9 months before being eligible for a driver’s license. Additionally, a learner’s permit is required in order to start practicing driving. For these reasons we recommend students get their learner’s as soon as they can.
In order to receive a learner’s permit, you will need to complete several steps at the DMV:
- Submit paperwork: an application, one proof of identity, two proofs of residency, one proof of legal presence, and a signature of parental consent. See the DMV website for a complete list of accepted documents.
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass the computerized knowledge exam: Road signs and general knowledge from the driver’s manual.
The learner’s permit test can be taken anytime after the student reaches the age of 15 and 6 months. You do not need to wait until after completing the Driver’s Ed knowledge class. You will, however, need both a learner’s permit AND to complete the knowledge course. One does not negate the need of the other.
A word of warning: it is possible to take the learner’s permit test at satellite locations. However, this does NOT eliminate the trip to the DMV. You must still go to the DMV to turn in all the other documents, including your proof of passing the knowledge exam.
3. Learn to Drive and Complete 45 Hours of Practice Driving
Like all other juveniles, homeschoolers must have a learner’s permit for 9 months before they are eligible to get a driver’s license. This provides time for the teen to learn to drive and complete the mandatory 45 hours of supervised driving practice.
In Virginia, there is no state-provided home school driving course for learning the mechanics of driving. This responsibility usually falls on parents to either teach their teenagers or enroll their student in private driving lessons.
After 30 years of experience, our opinion is that professional training - establishing foundational skills and defensive habits - pays for itself many times over in avoided accidents and saved lives. Additionally, the early stages of learning to drive are quite dangerous unless you have a passenger brake. For these two reasons, we recommend investing in private driving lessons as your homeschool driving course.
Regardless of how you learn to drive, in order to get a license, a parent or legal guardian will need to sign a document verifying that the teen has completed 45 hours of supervised driving. At least 15 of these hours must be after sunset.
4. Complete the Behind the Wheel Assessment
Behind the Wheel is often mistakenly thought to be driver training. In fact, Behind the Wheel is the name of the state-mandated program designed to confirm students’ readiness to have a driver’s license. It is similar to an extensive road test.
Behind the Wheel can be completed at a public, private, or commercial driving school. Parents can also apply for DMV approval to conduct Behind the Wheel at home with their teen.
To complete Behind the Wheel, the student will need to drive under observation for seven 50-minute sessions, and sit in the back seat observing another driver for seven 50-minute sessions. A total of fourteen 50-minute sessions.
During these drive sessions, the instructor (or parent) must assess the student's ability to complete various tasks according to a DMV form skills worksheet. At Colonial Driving School our Behind the Wheel program includes seven routes students must drive, one on each of their seven driving sessions. These routes ensure that students’ skills include neighborhoods, main roads, a variety of intersections, the highway, multiple kinds of parking, and city driving.
5. Receive Your Provisional License
Behind the Wheel is usually the last of the steps to get a driver’s license in Virginia. If you complete your Behind the Wheel through a public, private, or commercial schools, the school will issue you a temporary driver’s license (also called a provisional driver’s license.) This is a piece of paper that, when paired with the learner’s permit, is a valid license.
Within 180 days (6 months) you will be contacted by the juvenile courts of your country with instructions as to how to receive the permanent hard copy of your driver’s license. And that’s it! Now you know how homeschoolers can get a driver’s license!
But what if you are turning 18? Or perhaps you are already 18 or older. If you missed the normal window for getting a driver’s license, no problem. Read on.
How to Get a Driver’s License as an Adult
Getting a driver’s license after you turn 18 is easier than getting it earlier. Here are the steps to getting your license.
Get a Learner’s Permit at the DMV
This step is more or less the same regardless of the age of the applicant. The primary difference is that legal adults do not need parental/guardian consent. Once you get your learner’s permit, however, there are two routes to getting your license.
Option 1: Wait 2 months then take the DMV Road Skills Test
Unlike juveniles, who are required to have a learner’s permit for 9 months before being eligible for a license, adults only have a 60-day waiting period. After 60 days, the adult is eligible to attempt the DMV Road Skills test.
In order to pass the road skills test, the student will have to drive competently. To pass the test, the student will need to demonstrate control of the vehicle and drive without breaking any traffic laws. Parents and “adult” homeschoolers can choose any method they like to gain driving skills, but we recommend private driving lessons to lay the foundation for a lifetime of driving safety.
Option 2: Complete Adult Driver’s Education
Completing Adult Driver’s Education avoids the 60-day waiting period and removes the DMV Road Test from the picture. Instead, a student can complete approved forms of both the Classroom and Behind the Wheel components of Adult Driver’s Education. To go this route, the student will still need to master the skills of driving since Behind the Wheel is an assessment, not an instructional course. But this option does avoid the DMV road test and may give homeschool parents more peace of mind.
Upon completion of Adult Driver’s Ed the student will receive an “Adult Waiver,” which can be traded for a license at your local DMV. Regardless of age, that’s all how to get your license if you’re homeschooled!
In summary, here are the steps one more time:
- Get a learner’s permit
- Take Classroom Knowledge
- Learn to drive and complete your practice hours
- Take the Behind the Wheel assessment (or alternatively the DMV road test if an adult)
We hope this has been helpful. For more information check out the DMV’s requirements for homeschool parents.
At Colonial Driving School, we offer homeschool-compatible versions of Driver’s Ed Knowledge, Behind the Wheel, and Private Driving Lessons, as well as the Re-examination course for those who fail the learner’s permit test three times. If we can be of any service to you, please give us a call!