A Teen Driver’s Guide to Getting Licensed
March 1, 2018
The right to drive is a major milestone for teenagers. But getting to that point is daunting for some, with many steps leading up to gaining this coveted ability.
This guide is designed to help up-and-coming drivers prepare for the learner’s permit test, as well as present the many different options for getting your license.
Step 1: Getting Your Learner’s
The learner’s permit test is the first step you’ll encounter in your driving career, since it’s required to even actually drive. (Drive legally, that is, since some students with large properties may already have experience tooling around their backyards mud bogging in the family truck).
The test includes a 10-question road signs portion that requires you to get every sign question correct. Miss one or more and you automatically fail. That’s only the beginning, as after the road signs test, you have to take the main portion of the event: the learner’s permit test.
The learner’s permit test is more lenient than the road signs portion, as it actually allows you to pass with an 80% or better. However, the learner’s permit test is a combination of any and all knowledge that is important on the road, like how many car lengths need to be between you and the car in front of you, or how far back you need to stay from a school bus when stopped.
Now, this might sound difficult, but there are many utilities that both the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and other sources provide to help you pass the learner’s permit test.
- DMVGenie – DMVGenie is an app that can be found on both Android and IOS devices. It has multiple different quizzes to help you learn the rules of the road. The quizzes range from short to long, with questions that come directly from the DMV. DMVGenie uses a system that saves the questions that you get wrong, so you can review and learn from the mistakes you make. There’s even an exact copy of the learner’s permit test that follows the same rules of the actual test, giving you an example of what to expect.
- Driver’s Book – The Driver’s Book is an official tool of the DMV that holds all the information that you may be tested on in the learner’s permit test. The book has diagrams with information and pictures to show off multiple situations that could arise while driving, as well as driving tips and a key to the different road signs. There are also practice tests that you can use to help prepare yourself for the test.
It is not uncommon for students to fail the test their first or even second try, so don’t underestimate it. However, even if you do fail after all the practice, you can take the test multiple times. You only have to wait 15 days after your evert attempt.
Usually you have to take the learner’s permit test at the DMV in Charlottesville (which is notorious for long, long lines and wait times). But FCHS has recently started offering the learner’s permit test at the high school. The next testing date is March 22, so if you’re interested, register with Testing Coordinator Angie Blevins in Room 3609 or contact her at [email protected].
Assuming you pass the test at FCHS, you will need to take a slip (stating that you passed the exam) to the DMV to get paper permit and have your picture taken. Your actual permit will be mailed to you within a week or so.
Step 2: Getting Your Driver’s License
Getting a driver’s license has far more requirements than getting a learner’s permit. To get your license, you need to complete a state-approved driver education program, take Behind-the-Wheel, and pass three different tests: Vision, Knowledge, and Driving.
Most public high schools, including FCHS offer the driver’s education course for students 18 and under. (At FCHS, it is offered in conjunction with the P.E. class most students take during sophomore year.) Once you have held your permit for nine months and have completed the driver’s education course, you must take Behind-the-Wheel.
To complete the the Behind-the-Wheel program you must have 14 periods of 50-minute instruction, including seven periods of driving and seven periods of observing. There are many local programs that offer Behind-the-Wheel, but the two most popular programs in Fluvanna are Safe and Sound and Fork Union Driving Academy.
Here’s what you need to know about these options:
- Safe and Sound – Safe and Sound is based out of Louisa County, but serves many students in surrounding areas. They offer a driver’s education course for $210, as well as Behind-the-Wheel for $295. You can pay online or in person, but a $100 deposit is required with the completed contract to schedule your instruction periods. The remaining $195 balance is due the first day of instruction. For more information, visit their website at http://safeandsounddrivingschool.com/
- Fork Union Driving Academy – FUDA is based out of Fork Union and serves any high school in central Virginia. Their staff includes FCHS P.E. teacher Tammy Lyons and FCHS baseball coach Mike Sheridan. They offer Behind-the-Wheel for $295 and honor any competitors’ coupons. You can follow their Facebook page at “Fork Union Driving Academy” to keep an eye out for special offers and discounted prices. You can also contact them by phone at 434-842-1717.
Once you have completed the required 14 periods of instruction, you will take the road test with your Behind-the-Wheel instructor. Once you pass, you will be issued a temporary 90-day paper license and will need to carry it along with your permit when you drive.
You will receive your permanent license after attending a court ceremony. Make sure to follow court dress code and behavioral rules, since you could be kicked out of the court room and have to wait for your court date to be rescheduled to receive your permanent license. Also, make sure that you are early, as many Flucos have learned that if you are a minute late, you’ll be turned away.
If you haven’t yet started your journey for a license and you are 18 or older, then you can receive your license after holding your learner’s permit for at least 60 days. You must complete a driver’s education course and take the road test at the DMV. Once you pass, you will not be required to attend court to receive your permanent license; instead, it will be sent to you in the mail.
For more information about getting a learner’s permit or driver’s license, as well as information on DMV hours, and practice exams, go to dmv.virginia.gov.