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2001 SESSION


CHAPTER 665
An Act to amend and reenact 22.1-205, 46.2-330, 46.2-334, 46.2-334.01, 46.2-335, and 46.2-335.2 of the Code of Virginia and to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 46.2-334.02, relating to driver education programs; driver's license renewals; driver's licenses and learner's permits issued to persons less than twenty years old; penalties.
[S 1329]
Approved March 25, 2001

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That 22.1-205, 46.2-330, 46.2-334, 46.2-334.01, 46.2-335, and 46.2-335.2 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted and that the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 46.2-334.02 as follows:

22.1-205. Driver education programs.

A. The Board of Education shall establish for the public school system a standardized program of driver education in the safe operation of motor vehicles. Such program shall consist of classroom training and behind-the-wheel driver training. However, any student who participates in such a program of driver education shall meet the academic requirements established by the Board, and no student in a course shall be permitted to operate a motor vehicle without a license or permit to do so issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The program shall include instruction concerning (i) alcohol and drug abuse, (ii) aggressive driving, and (iii) motorcycle awareness. Such instruction shall be developed by the Department in cooperation with the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program and the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services. Such program shall require a minimum number of miles driven during the behind-the-wheel driver training.

B. The Board shall assist school divisions by preparation, publication and distribution of competent driver education instructional materials to ensure a more complete understanding of the responsibilities and duties of motor vehicle operators.

C. Each school board shall determine whether to offer the program of driver education in the safe operation of motor vehicles and, if offered, whether such program shall be an elective or a required course. Only school divisions complying with the standardized program and regulations established by the Board of Education and the provisions of 46.2-335 shall be entitled to participate in the distribution of state funds appropriated for driver education.

D. The actual initial driving instruction shall be conducted, with motor vehicles equipped as may be required by regulation of the Board of Education, on private or public property removed from public highways if practicable; if impracticable, then, at the request of the school board, the Commonwealth Transportation Board shall designate a suitable section of road near the school to be used for such instruction. Such section of road shall be marked with signs, which the Commonwealth Transportation Board shall supply, giving notice of its use for driving instruction. Such signs shall be removed at the close of the instruction period. No vehicle other than those used for driver training shall be operated between such signs at a speed in excess of twenty-five miles per hour. Violation of this limit shall be a Class 4 misdemeanor.

E. The Board of Education may, in its discretion, promulgate regulations for the use and certification of paraprofessionals as teaching assistants in the driver education programs of school divisions.

F. The Board of Education shall approve correspondence courses for the classroom training component of driver education. These correspondence courses shall be consistent in quality with instructional programs developed by the Board for classroom training in the public schools. Students completing the correspondence courses for classroom training, who are eligible to take behind-the-wheel driver training, may receive behind-the-wheel driver training (i) from a public school, upon payment of the required fee, if the school division offers behind-the-wheel driver training and space is available or (ii) from a commercial driver training school licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Nothing herein shall be construed to require any school division to provide behind-the-wheel driver training to nonpublic school students.

46.2-330. Expiration and renewal of licenses; examinations required.

A. Every driver's license shall expire on the last day of the month of birth of the applicant in years in which the applicant attains an age equally divisible by five. At no time shall any driver's license be issued for less than three nor more than seven years. Thereafter the driver's license shall be renewed in the birthday month of the licensee and shall be valid for five years, expiring in the next year in which the licensee's age is equally divisible by five.

B. Within one year prior to the date shown on the driver's license as the date of expiration, the Department shall mail notice, to the holder thereof, at the address shown on the records of the Department in its driver's license file, that his license will expire on a date specified therein, whether he must be reexamined, and when he may be reexamined. Nonreceipt of the notice shall not extend the period of validity of the driver's license beyond its expiration date.

Any driver's license may be renewed by application, which shall include the applicant's certification of Virginia residency, after the applicant has taken and successfully completed those parts of the examination provided for in 46.2-311, 46.2-325 and the Virginia Commercial Driver's License Act ( 46.2-341.1 et seq.), including visual vision and written tests, other than the parts of the examination requiring the applicant to drive a motor vehicle. All drivers applying in person for renewal of a license shall take and successfully complete the examination each renewal year.

C. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the Commissioner, in his discretion, may require any applicant for renewal to be fully examined as provided in 46.2-311, 46.2-325 and the Virginia Commercial Driver's License Act ( 46.2-341.1 et seq.). Furthermore, the Commissioner may waive the visual vision examination for any applicant for renewal of a driver's license which is not a commercial driver's license, and the requirement or the taking of the written test as provided in subsection B of this section, 46.2-325 and the Virginia Commercial Driver's License Act ( 46.2-341.1 et seq.), for any applicant for renewal who is at least twenty-one years old if the applicant's driver's license record on file at the Department contains, for the five years prior to the expiration date of the license being renewed, a record of no more than one conviction for any offense reportable under 46.2-382, 46.2-382.1, and 46.2-383. Such written test shall not be waived for an applicant less than twenty-one years old if he has one or more such convictions. However, in no case shall there be any waiver of the visual vision examination for applicants for renewal of a commercial driver's license or of the knowledge test required by the Virginia Commercial Driver's License Act for the hazardous materials endorsement on a commercial driver's license.

D. Every applicant for renewal of a driver's license, whether renewal shall or shall not be dependent on any examination of the applicant, shall appear in person before the Department to apply for renewal, unless specifically notified by the Department that renewal may be accomplished in another manner as provided in the notice.

E. This section shall not modify the provisions of 46.2-331.

46.2-334. Conditions and requirements for licensure of persons under eighteen; requests for cancellation of minor's driver's license; temporary driver's licenses; Board of Education approved programs; fee.

A. Minors at least sixteen years and three months old may be issued driver's licenses under the following conditions:

1. The minor shall submit a proper application and satisfactory evidence that he (i) is a resident of the Commonwealth; (ii) has successfully completed a driver education course approved by either the State Department of Education or, in the case of a course offered by a commercial driver training school licensed under Chapter 17 ( 46.2-1700 et seq.) of this title, by the Department of Motor Vehicles; and (iii) is mentally, physically, and otherwise qualified to drive a motor vehicle safely.

2. The minor's application for a driver's license must be signed by a parent of the applicant, otherwise by the guardian having custody of him. However, in the event a minor has no parent or guardian, then a driver's license shall not be issued to him unless his application is signed by the judge of the juvenile and domestic relations district court of the city or county in which he resides. If the minor making the application is married or otherwise emancipated, in lieu of any parent's, guardian's or judge's signature, the minor may present proper evidence of the solemnization of the marriage or the order of emancipation.

3. The minor shall be required to state in his application whether or not he has been convicted of an offense triable by, or tried in, a juvenile and domestic relations district court or found by such court to be a child in need of supervision, as defined in 16.1-228. If it appears that the minor has been adjudged not innocent of the offense alleged or has been found to be a child in need of supervision, the Department shall not issue a license without the written approval of the judge of the juvenile and domestic relations district court making an adjudication as to the minor or the like approval of a similar court of the county or city in which the parent or guardian, respectively, of the minor resides.

4. The application for a permanent driver's license by a minor of the age of persons required to attend school pursuant to 22.1-254 shall be accompanied by evidence of compliance with the compulsory school attendance law set forth in Article 1 ( 22.1-254 et seq.) of Chapter 14 of Title 22.1. This evidence shall be provided in writing by the minor's parent. If the minor is unable to provide such evidence, he shall not be granted a driver's license until he reaches the age of eighteen or presents proper evidence of the solemnization of his marriage or an order of emancipation, or the parent, as defined in 22.1-1, or other person standing in loco parentis has provided written authorization for the minor to obtain a driver's license.

A minor may, however, present a high school diploma or its equivalent or a certificate indicating completion of a prescribed course of study as defined by the local school board pursuant to 22.1-253.13:4 as evidence of compulsory school attendance compliance.

5. The minor applicant shall certify in writing, on a form prescribed by the Commissioner, that he is a resident of the Commonwealth. The applicant's parent or guardian shall also certify that the applicant is a resident by signing the certification. Any minor providing proper evidence of the solemnization of his marriage or a certified copy of a court order of emancipation shall not be required to provide the parent's certification of residence.

B. Any custodial parent or guardian of an unmarried or unemancipated minor may, after the issuance of a permanent driver's license to such minor, file with the Department a written request that the license of the minor be canceled. When such request is filed, the Department shall cancel the license of the minor and the license shall not thereafter be reissued by the Department until a period of six months has elapsed from the date of cancellation or the minor reaches his eighteenth birthday, whichever shall occur sooner.

C. The provisions of subsection A of this section requiring that an application for a driver's license be signed by the parent or guardian shall be waived by the Commissioner if the application is accompanied by proper evidence of the solemnization of the minor's marriage or a certified copy of a court order, issued under the provisions of Article 15 ( 16.1-331 et seq.) of Chapter 11 of Title 16.1, declaring the applicant to be an emancipated minor.

D. A learner's permit accompanied by documentation verifying the minor's successful completion of an approved driver education course, signed by the minor's parent, guardian, legal custodian or other person standing in loco parentis, shall constitute a temporary driver's license for purposes of driving unaccompanied by a licensed driver as required in 46.2-335, if all other requirements of this chapter have been met. The temporary license shall only be valid until the permanent license is presented as provided in 46.2-336.

E. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A of this section requiring the successful completion of a driver education course approved by the State Department of Education, the Commissioner, on application therefor by a person at least sixteen years of age and three months old but less than eighteen years of age old, shall issue to the applicant a temporary driver's license valid for six months if he (i) certifies by signing, together with his parent or guardian, on a form prescribed by the Commissioner that he is a resident of the Commonwealth; (ii) is the holder of a valid driver's license from another state; and (iii) has not been found guilty of or otherwise responsible for an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle. No temporary license issued under this subsection shall be renewed, nor shall any second or subsequent temporary license under this subsection be issued to the same applicant. Any such minor providing proper evidence of the solemnization of his marriage or a certified copy of a court order of emancipation shall not be required to obtain the signature of his parent or guardian for the temporary driver's license.

F. For persons qualifying for a driver's license through driver education courses approved by the Department of Education or courses offered by commercial driver training schools licensed by the Department, the application for the learner's permit shall be used as the application for the driver's license pursuant to 46.2-335.

G. Driver's licenses shall be issued by the Department to minors successfully completing driver education courses approved by the Department of Education (i) when the Department receives from the school proper certification that the student (a) has successfully completed such course, including a road skills examination and (b) is regularly attending school and is in good academic standing or, if not in such standing or submitting evidence thereof, whose parent or guardian, having custody of such minor, provides written authorization for the minor to obtain a driver's license, which written authorization shall be obtained on forms provided by the Department and indicating the Commonwealth's interest in the good academic standing and regular school attendance of such minors; and (ii) upon payment of a fee of $2.40 per year, based on the period of the license's validity. For applicants attending public schools, good academic standing may be certified by the public school principal or any of his designees. For applicants attending nonpublic schools, such certification shall be made by the private school principal or any of his designees; for minors receiving home schooling, such certification shall be made by the home schooling parent or tutor. Any minor providing proper evidence of the solemnization of his marriage or a certified copy of a court order of emancipation shall not be required to provide the certification of good academic standing or any written authorization from his parent or guardian to obtain a driver's license.

46.2-334.01. Licenses issued to persons less than eighteen years old subject to certain restrictions.

A. Any learner's permit or driver's license issued on or after July 1, 1998, to any person less than eighteen years old shall be subject to the following:

1. Notwithstanding the provisions of 46.2-498, whenever the driving record of a person less than eighteen years old shows that he has been convicted of (i) an offense for which demerit points have been assessed or are assessable under Article 19 ( 46.2-489 et seq.) of this chapter or (ii) a violation of any provision of Article 12 ( 46.2-1091 et seq.) or Article 13 ( 46.2-1095 et seq.) of Chapter 10 of this title:,

a. the Commissioner shall direct such person to attend a driver improvement clinic. No safe driving points shall be awarded for such clinic attendance, nor shall any safe driving points be awarded for voluntary or court-assigned clinic attendance. Such person's parent, guardian, legal custodian, or other person standing in loco parentis may attend such clinic and receive a reduction in demerit points and/or an award of safe driving points pursuant to 46.2-498.

b. No motor vehicle, while being operated by any person holding a learner's permit or driver's license subject to the restrictions contained in this section, shall transport more than three passengers, in addition to the driver, who are less than eighteen years old. This limitation, however, shall not apply to (i) members of the driver's family or household or (ii) a driver less than eighteen years old who is driving to or from either school or his place of employment. No citation for a violation of this subdivision shall be issued unless the officer issuing such citation has cause to stop or arrest the driver of such motor vehicle for the violation of some other provision of this Code or local ordinance relating to the operation, ownership, or maintenance of a motor vehicle or any criminal statute. For the purpose of this subdivision , "members of the driver's family or household" means (i) the driver's spouse, whether or not he or she resides in the same home with the driver; (ii) the driver's former spouse, whether or not he or she resides in the same home with the driver; (iii) the driver's children, stepchildren, brothers, sisters, half brothers, and half sisters, whether or not they reside in the same home with the driver; (iv) the driver's brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law who reside in the same home with the driver; (v) any individual who has a child in common with the driver, whether or not the driver and that individual have been married or have resided together at any time; or (vi) any individual who cohabits or who, within the previous twelve months, cohabited with the driver, and any children of either of them residing in the same home with the driver.

2. If any person less than eighteen years old is convicted a second time of (i) an offense for which demerit points have been assessed or are assessable under Article 19 ( 46.2-489 et seq.) of this chapter or (ii) a violation of any provision of Article 12 ( 46.2-1091 et seq.) or Article 13 ( 46.2-1095 et seq.) of Chapter 10 of this title, the Commissioner shall suspend such person's driver's license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle for ninety days. Such suspension shall be consecutive to, and not concurrent with, any other period of license suspension, revocation, or denial.

3. If any such person is convicted a third time of (i) an offense for which demerit points have been assessed or are assessable under Article 19 ( 46.2-489 et seq.) of this chapter or (ii) a violation of any provision of Article 12 ( 46.2-1091 et seq.) or Article 13 ( 46.2-1095 et seq.) of Chapter 10 of this title, the Commissioner shall revoke such person's driver's license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle for one year or until such person reaches the age of eighteen years, whichever is longer. Such revocation shall be consecutive to, and not concurrent with, any other period of license suspension, revocation or denial.

4. In no event shall a driver who is under the age of eighteen and subject to the provisions of this section, be subject to the suspension or revocation provisions of subdivision 2 or 3 of this section for multiple convictions arising out of the same transaction or occurrence.

B. The initial license issued to any such person shall be deemed a provisional driver's license. A provisional driver's license shall not authorize its holder to operate a motor vehicle with more than one passenger who is less than eighteen years old prior to the holder's seventeenth birthday and more than three passengers who are less than eighteen years old thereafter until the holder's eighteenth birthday. This passenger limitation, however, shall not apply to members of the driver's family or household. For the purposes of this subsection, "members of the driver's family or household" means (i) the driver's spouse, children, stepchildren, brothers, sisters, half brothers, half sisters, and any individual who has a child in common with the driver, whether or not they reside in the same home with the driver; (ii) the driver's brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law who reside in the same home with the driver; (iii) any individual who cohabits with the driver, and any children of such individual residing in the same home with the driver.

C. The holder of a provisional driver's license shall not operate a motor vehicle on the highways of the Commonwealth between the hours of midnight and 4:00 a.m. except when driving (i) to or from a place of business where he is employed; (ii) to or from a school-sponsored activity; (iii) when accompanied by a parent, a person acting in loco parentis, or by a spouse who is eighteen years old or older, provided that such person accompanying the driver is actually occupying a seat beside the driver and is lawfully permitted to operate a motor vehicle at the time; or (iv) in cases of emergency.

D. The provisional driver's license restrictions in subsection B and C of this section shall expire on the holder's eighteenth birthday.

E. A violation of subsection B or C of this section shall not constitute negligence, be considered in mitigation of damages of whatever nature, be admissible in evidence or be the subject of comment by counsel in any action for the recovery of damages arising out of the operation, ownership, or maintenance of a motor vehicle, nor shall anything in this subsection change any existing law, rule, or procedure pertaining to any such civil action.

F. No citation for a violation of this section shall be issued unless the officer issuing such citation has cause to stop or arrest the driver of such motor vehicle for the violation of some other provision of this Code or local ordinance relating to the operation, ownership, or maintenance of a motor vehicle or any criminal statute.

46.2-334.02. Licenses issued to persons less than twenty years old subject to certain restrictions.

Notwithstanding the provisions of 46.2-498, whenever the driving record of a person who is at least eighteen years old but less than twenty years old shows that he has been convicted of (i) an offense for which demerit points have been assessed or are assessable under Article 19 ( 46.2-489 et seq.) of this chapter or (ii) a violation of any provision of Article 12 ( 46.2-1091 et seq.) or Article 13 ( 46.2-1095 et seq.) of Chapter 10 of this title, the Commissioner shall direct such person to attend a driver improvement clinic.

46.2-335. Learner's permits; fees.

A. The Department, on receiving from any Virginia resident over the age of fifteen years and six months an application for a learner's permit or motorcycle learner's permit, may, subject to the applicant's satisfactory documentation of meeting the requirements of this chapter and successful completion of the written or automated knowledge and vision examinations and, in the case of a motorcycle learner's permit applicant, the automated motorcycle test, issue a permit entitling the applicant, while having the permit in his immediate possession, to drive a motor vehicle or, if the application is made for a motorcycle learner's permit, a motorcycle, on the highways, when accompanied by any licensed driver twenty-one years of age or older or by his parent or legal guardian, or by a brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother, or step-sister eighteen years of age or older. The accompanying person shall be (i) alert, able to assist the driver, and actually occupying a seat beside the driver or, for motorcycle instruction, providing immediate supervision from a separate accompanying motorcycle and (ii) lawfully permitted to operate the motor vehicle or accompanying motorcycle at that time.

The Department shall not, however, issue a learner's permit or motorcycle learner's permit to any minor applicant required to provide evidence of compliance with the compulsory school attendance law set forth in Article 1 ( 22.1-254 et seq.) of Chapter 14 of Title 22.1, unless such applicant is in good academic standing or, if not in such standing or submitting evidence thereof, whose parent or guardian, having custody of such minor, provides written authorization for the minor to obtain a learner's permit or motorcycle learner's permit, which written authorization shall be obtained on forms provided by the Department and indicating the Commonwealth's interest in the good academic standing and regular school attendance of such minors. Any minor providing proper evidence of the solemnization of his marriage or a certified copy of a court order of emancipation shall not be required to provide the certification of good academic standing or any written authorization from his parent or guardian to obtain a learner's permit or motorcycle learner's permit.

Such permit, except a motorcycle learner's permit, shall be valid until the holder thereof either is issued a driver's license as provided for in this chapter or no longer meets the qualifications for issuance of a learner's permit as provided in this section. Motorcycle learner's permits shall be valid for twelve months. When a motorcycle learner's permit expires, the permittee may, upon submission of an application, payment of the application fee, and successful completion of the examinations, be issued another motorcycle learner's permit valid for twelve months.

B. No driver's license shall be issued to any such person who is less then eighteen years old unless, while holding a learner's permit, he has driven a motor vehicle for at least forty hours, at least ten of which were after sunset, as certified by his parent or legal guardian unless the person is married or otherwise emancipated.

C. No learner's permit shall authorize its holder to operate a motor vehicle with more than one passenger who is less than eighteen years old, except when participating in a driver education program approved by the Department of Education or a course offered by a commercial driver training school licensed by the Department. This passenger limitation, however, shall not apply to the driver's family or household as defined in subsection B of 46.2-334.01.

D. No learner's permit shall authorize its holder to operate a motor vehicle between midnight and four o'clock a.m.

E. A violation of subsection C or D of this section shall not constitute negligence, be considered in mitigation of damages of whatever nature, be admissible in evidence or be the subject of comment by counsel in any action for the recovery of damages arising out of the operation, ownership, or maintenance of a motor vehicle, nor shall anything in this subsection change any existing law, rule, or procedure pertaining to any such civil action.

F. The provisions of 46.2-323 and 46.2-334 relating to evidence and certification of Virginia residence and, in the case of persons of school age, compliance with the compulsory school attendance law shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to applications for learner's permits and motorcycle learner's permits issued under this section.

C. G. For persons qualifying for a driver's license through driver education courses approved by the Department of Education or courses offered by commercial driver training schools licensed by the Department, the application for the learner's permit shall be used as the application for the driver's license.

D. H. The Department shall charge a fee of three dollars for each learner's permit and motorcycle learner's permit issued under this section. Fees for issuance of learner's permits shall be paid into the driver education fund of the state treasury; fees for issuance of motorcycle learner's permits shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Motorcycle Rider Safety Training Program Fund created pursuant to 46.2-1191. It shall be unlawful for any person, after having received a learner's permit, to drive a motor vehicle without being accompanied by a licensed driver as provided in the foregoing provisions of this section; however, a learner's permit other than a motorcycle learner's permit, accompanied by documentation verifying that the driver is at least sixteen years of age and three months old and has successfully completed an approved driver's education course, signed by the minor's parent, guardian, legal custodian or other person standing in loco parentis, shall constitute a temporary driver's license for the purpose of driving unaccompanied by a licensed driver eighteen years of age or older, if all other requirements of this chapter have been met. Such temporary driver's license shall only be valid until the driver has received his permanent license pursuant to 46.2-336.

E. I. Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the issuance of a learner's permit entitling a person to drive a commercial motor vehicle, except as provided by the Virginia Commercial Driver's License Act ( 46.2-341.1 et seq.).

F. J. The following limitations shall apply to operation of motorcycles by all persons holding motorcycle learner's permits:

1. Operation shall be limited to the period between one-half hour after sunrise and one-half hour before sunset.

2. Operation on limited access highways is prohibited.

3. The operator shall wear an approved safety helmet as provided in 46.2-910.

4. Operation shall be under the immediate supervision of a person licensed to operate a motorcycle who is twenty-one years of age or older or by his parent or legal guardian, or by a brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, step-brother, or step-sister eighteen years of age or older.

5. No person other than the operator shall occupy the motorcycle.

G. K. No holder of a learner's permit or motorcycle learner's permit shall be allowed to take the behind-the-wheel examination administered by the Department more than three times in any three-month period.

H. L. Any violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor.

46.2-335.2. Learner's permits; required before driver's license; minimum holding period.

A. Effective July 1, 1996, no person under the age of eighteen years shall be eligible to receive a driver's license pursuant to 46.2-334 unless the Department has previously issued such person a learner's permit pursuant to 46.2-335 and such person has satisfied the minimum holding period requirements set forth in subsection B, or unless such person is the holder of a valid driver's license from another state and qualifies for a temporary license under subdivision 3 of 46.2-334. However, persons under the age of eighteen years to whom the Department has issued a learner's permit prior to July 1, 1996, shall not be subject to the minimum holding period requirements set forth in subsection B before obtaining a driver's license pursuant to 46.2-334.

B. Effective July 1, 1996 2001, any person under the age of eighteen years issued a learner's permit pursuant to 46.2-335 shall hold such permit for a minimum period of six nine months or until he reaches the age of eighteen years, whichever occurs first.

2. That the provisions of this act increasing the minimum age for applicants for Virginia driver's licenses to sixteen years and three months shall not apply to applicants to whom Virginia learner's permits were issued prior to July 1, 2001.

3. That the Department of Motor Vehicles shall make five annual reports to the Chairmen of the Senate and House Transportation Committees, summarizing accident rates and associated injuries and fatalities involving persons between the ages of fifteen and nineteen during the preceding year. The first such report shall be made prior to the 2003 Session of the General Assembly.