Driving is a big responsibility, which is why it is so important for teenagers to learn the laws of the roadway over extended periods of time. No state simply issues a teenager a driver’s license. In West Virginia, those between the ages of 15 and 17 get their license through the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) system. This allows for a teenager the opportunity to learn to drive in gradual steps as they develop expertise in increasingly complicated driving situations. There are various steps involved in the GDL process.
Obtaining an instruction permit
When a person turns 15 years of age in West Virginia, they can apply for their instructional permit (Level 1 GDL). They must do this in person at their local West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.
Teenagers wishing to get their instructional permit must have a valid School Driver Eligibility Certificate from the school board in their county. They must also have consent from a parent or legal guardian giving permission for the permit to be issued.
When operating using an instructional permit, the 15-year-old driver must have a licensed driver aged 21 or older in the front seat at all times. They may have no more than two additional non-family passengers in addition to the supervising adult in the front seat. Drivers with an instructional permit may only drive between the hours of 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM.
Intermediate driver’s license
Drivers may apply for an intermediate driver’s license (Level 2 GDL) when they turn 16 as long as they have completed 50 hours of driver training with an adult (including 10 hours of night driving). Drivers applying for an intermediate license must have had their instructional permit for at least six months with no driving violations.
They must also pass the road skills test. If the 16-year-old does not pass the road skills test the first time, they are eligible to try two more times (but on separate occasions).
When a 16-year-old obtains their intermediate driver’s license, they are allowed to drive without an adult but are restricted to driving between the hours between 5:00 AM and 10:00 PM. If they wish to drive outside of those hours, they will need to have a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age in the front seat.
There are a few exceptions to these driving hours. If an intermediate license holder is going to a school-sanctioned activity, religious activity, to work, or an emergency, they may do so outside of the hours listed above.
Intermediate license holders, for the first six months of having this license, cannot have any non-family members under 20 years of age in the vehicle. For the second six months, they can have one non-family member under the age of 20 in the vehicle.
If a Level 2 driver receives two moving violations or violates the terms of having a GDL license, their license to drive will be revoked until they reached the age of 18 (and possibly longer).
Teenagers who have had their intermediate license for at least one year and have reached the age of 17, are eligible to apply for a Level 3 GDL. A Level 3 GDL is a full license with no restrictions on hours of operation or passenger age requirements.