In addition to taking the driver education course, Virginia law requires all teens under age 18 (including current and graduated homeschooled teens) to drive for at least 45 additional hours in guided practice sessions with an adult before obtaining a driver’s license. At least 15 of these hours should occur after sunset.
If neither parent has a valid driver’s license, a friend or relative can conduct the guided practice sessions.
The 45 hour requirement is to be seen as a minimum. The parent has the right to require additional hours if he or she believes that the teen is not yet ready to obtain a driver’s license. Some parents require far more than 45 hours experience before giving a minor permission to obtain a driver’s license.
This requirement does not apply to student drivers who are age 18 or older. Some older student drivers may wish to log hours before taking the road skills test.
Other than the 15 hours after sunset provision, Virginia law does not mandate what must be covered in the 45 hours. Ideally the hours should encompass a variety of different driving situations and circumstances. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has published The 45-Hour Parent/Teen Driving Guide, a 43 page manual which systematically lists recommended skills and experiences for each of the 45 hours. Some driving schools are using the VDOE guide as part of their curriculum.
When to Start Logging Hours
Virginia law does not specify when hour logging is to begin. Presumably logging cannot begin until the student has obtained a valid learner’s permit. Hours spent in the in-car/behind the wheel driver education component cannot “double dip” as counting towards the 45 additional hours.
Some driver training schools are now recommending that at least some of the 45 hours be done concurrently with the in-car component.
As part of the driver licensing paperwork process, parents of all teens under age 18 (homeschooled or otherwise) must show their driver’s license and sign a certificate certifying that the teen has driven at least 45 additional hours, 15 of which occurred after sunset, and that the statements made and the information submitted on the TDL-180 or HS-2 form are true and correct. Certifying false statements can result in prosecution.