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Driving in Hampton Roads

The Hampton Roads urban area is very spread out. The nearest ‘corner shop’ may be at least a couple of miles from your home, and for a varied selection of shops, restaurants and entertainment, a 30 minute drive is not unusual. Cars are essential for everyday family life, and a minimum of 2 vehicles per household is usual.

American Law Enforcement 

There are some procedures to be aware of if stopped by the police while driving. The police car will turn on its flashing lights and pull behind you, which indicates you should pull over and stop. At this point DO NOT GET OUT OF THE CAR. Roll down your window and put your hands in a visible location on the steering wheel as the officer approaches you. This assures the officer that you are not concealing a weapon and will make the procedure much faster and more routine. You will be asked to provide your license and registration.

You should always have a valid Driver’s License on your person when driving your car, in addition to insurance and car registration papers.

A free copy of the Virginia Driver’s Manual can be obtained from your local DMV Office or click here everyone who drives should read it.

Driver’s Licenses 

You are permitted to drive on your valid national driving license whilst you are here in the United States. Legal Affairs can issue you a “certificate of reciprocity” quoting the Virginia Code that allows you this privilege. Take your US Department of Defense Identity card, along with your driving license to Legal Affairs and this can be issued to you.

A valid Commonwealth of Virginia Driver’s License is very useful for identification purposes in many everyday circumstances in America, for example when writing a check where a photo ID card is required, and you are strongly recommended to consider obtaining one. It can also be useful for learning the rules of the road (examples below) and for shopping around for insurance quotes.

A Virginia identification card can be obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV), which is useful for identification purposes where you do not wish to take the driving test.

If you have a British license already and would like to obtain a VA driver’s license you will need to comply with the documentation requirements of the DMV: two forms of identification, one form of Legal presence and proof of address. DMV Form 141 lists the accepted documents. Also required but not listed is a NATO Travel Order confirming the end of tour date of the serving spouse. This serves as confirmation of Legal Presence.

You will be required to sit the Virginia Drivers’ Test, which is in two parts – a short multiple choice computer examination, the ‘theory test’ which comes in two parts:-

1. Traffic Signs, of which you must get 10 out of 10 correct

2. General Knowledge (rules of the road) – 25 multiple choice questions of which you must get 20 out of 25 correct.

Test questions and examples can be found online

Once you pass the theory, you will then be required to take the DMV representative for a short drive to show your competence behind the wheel.