Religious Exemption and Driver’s Licenses

Q. We are homeschooling for religious reasons, and my teen wants to get a driver’s license. The DMV says I need a letter. What can I do?

A. The Virginia Code requires that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have evidence a teen is receiving an education in order to issue a driver’s license. For homeschoolers, there are three documents that are usually accepted by the DMV as proof of home education:

  1. a copy of a Notice of Intent form that has been submitted,
  2. a superintendent’s response letter to a Notice of Intent form, or
  3. a response letter from the school board acknowledging a student’s religious exemption.

If you do not have a letter from your school board acknowledging your religious exemption, you could write a letter stating your compliance with the religious exemption statute §22.1-254 (B)(1) and take it to the DMV. In this case, a notarized signature on your letter may be helpful. Some DMV representatives may accept a personal statement from you; others may not.

A second option would be to file a religious exemption letter with your school board. You can do this at any time–there is no deadline for sending a religious exemption letter to the school board. Although this may take a little longer, you would have a letter to present to the DMV.

However, a third option exists. The above methods are only required for parents who want to get approval from DMV to provide driver instruction. Such proof is not required if they use other methods of driver instruction.

A parent who elects to enroll his homeschool student in a private driver education company–either a parent who has complied with the homeschool law or a parent who is religiously exempt–is not required to complete the same forms for the DMV. A religiously exempt homeschooler is not required to show the private driver education company a letter from the school board acknowledging his religious exemption.

I contacted Vanessa C. Wigand, principal specialist for health education, physical education, driver education, and athletics with the Virginia Department of Education. She confirmed that proof of compliance with the homeschool laws from a superintendent or a religious exemption acknowledgment letter from a school board are necessary only for a parent who plans to teach his or her own teen classroom and behind-the-wheel driver education.

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