West Virginia

Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
5707 MacCorkle Ave SE
Charleston, WV 25317
(304) 558-3900/1-800-642-9066 (in-state) | www.dmv.wv.gov

West Virginia State Police
725 Jefferson Road South
Charleston, WV 25309-1698
(304) 746-2100 | www.wvstatepolice.com

West Virginia Department of Transportation
Building 5, Room A-137
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25305
(304) 558-0103 | www.transportation.wv.gov

Title Application

The application for a certificate of title must be made on a form furnished by the DMV and must contain the following: (1) a full description of the vehicle, which includes a manufacturer’s serial identification number, or any other number as determined by the Commissioner, and any distinguishing marks; (2) a statement of the applicant’s title and of any liens or encumbrances upon the vehicle; (3) the names and addresses of the holders of the liens; (4) the signature of the applicant; and (5) any other information as required by the DMV.

A certificate of title or a vehicle registration may not be issued to the owner of a new vehicle purchased outside the state unless the application is accompanied by a certificate of title or a manufacturer’s certificate of origin, or, if the state of purchase does not require a certificate of title, the application must be accompanied by a manufacturer’s certificate of origin with documentation to prove that the seller is a bona fide dealer of the state where the vehicle was purchased.

The DMV may issue a temporary permit to operate a vehicle for which the application for registration and certificate of title is pending.

The certificate of title issued by the Commissioner shall contain, on its face: (1) the date of issuance; (2) the name and address of the owner; (3) a description of the vehicle; (4) a statement of the owner’s title and of all the liens and encumbrances of the vehicle; and (5) a seal of the DMV. On the reverse side of a certificate of title, the following information shall be included: (1) the signature of the owner; and (2) forms for the assignment of the title or interest to a vehicle.


Title Transfer of Ownership

Certificates of title remain valid until the transfer of any interest in the vehicle.

When the owner of a registered vehicle assigns or transfers the vehicle title, or interest, the registration of the vehicle expires.

When the owner of a registered vehicle assigns or transfers the vehicle title or interest, the owner must endorse an assignment and warranty of title upon the certificate of title for the vehicle with a statement regarding all liens and encumbrances. Within 60 days of the sale, the owner must deliver the certificate of title to the purchaser or transferee.

When the transferee of a vehicle is a dealer, the dealer is not required to obtain a new registration of the vehicle until the dealer transfers the title or interest to another. Upon transfer, the dealer must execute and acknowledge an assignment and warranty of title upon the certificate of title, and deliver the title not later than 60 days from the date of sale.

When the title or interest of a vehicle passes to another other than by a voluntary transfer, the registration expires and the vehicle may not be operated upon the highway unless and until the person entitled to the operation of the vehicle applies for and obtains a registration. The exception to this requirement is that the person in possession of the vehicle or the legal representative may operate the vehicle on the highway for a distance not to exceed 75 miles, or to transport the vehicle to a garage or warehouse for purposes of demonstrating or selling the vehicle.


Titles for Mobile Homes

Mobile homes or manufactured homes are exempt from the annual registration, license plates, and fee requirements.

Registration Application

Every owner of a vehicle subject to registration requirements must make an application to the DMV on the forms provided. The application must contain: (1) the signature of the owner or authorized agent; (2) the name, bona fide residence, and mailing address of the owner; (3) the county where the owner resides; (4) a description of the vehicle including the make, model, type of body, the manufacturer’s serial or identification number, or any other number, as determined by the DMV; and (5) a statement verifying that the vehicle is insured for the period of the registration.

A certificate of registration or registration plates may not be issued unless the applicant has received, or at the same time makes an application and is granted, a certificate of title for the vehicle.

A transferee of a vehicle title or interest may operate the vehicle under the registration of the previous owner for a period of 10 days from transfer, provided the previous owner gives written permission.

Unless otherwise specified, every motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, pole trailer, and recreational vehicle when driven or moved on the highway is subject to the registration and title requirements.

Factory-built homes are subject to title requirements.

Upon registration, the DMV shall issue a registration card to the owner containing the following information: (1) the name and address of the owner; (2) the date of issuance; (3) the registration number assigned to the vehicle; and (4) a description of the vehicle.

There is no period of grace for late registration.


Registration for Non-Residents

A non-resident owner of a vehicle registered in a foreign state or country may operate the vehicle for a period of 30 days if the vehicle meets the registration requirements of the respective state or country, and the vehicle is not operated for commercial purposes.

A person attending a college, university, or other educational institution in the state, if the person has a domicile in another state with a valid operator’s license and vehicle registration from the state of domicile, and members of the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in the state provided that their vehicles are properly registered in that state or country, are not required to register their vehicle.

Every non-resident carrying on business within the state and owning and regularly operating in the business a motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, or mobile equipment is required to register each vehicle.


Registration Type

Every vehicle registration card and plate expires at midnight on the last day of the month when the registration period ends.

The expiration dates of registrations are staggered throughout the year.


Emissions Inspection

West Virginia has no statewide emissions inspection requirement.


Safety Inspection

Every motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, and pole trailer registered in the state must be inspected annually and must obtain an official certificate of inspection. Vehicles must also be inspected upon titling.  Vehicles with valid inspections from states with which West Virginia has reciprocity, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, are exempt until those stickers expire.


Title and Registration Fees

AUTOMOBILE

Title Fee: $10.00

Registration Fee: For vehicles weighing under 10,000 lbs.: $30.00.

MOTORCYCLE

Title Fee: $10.00

Registration Fee: $16.00

DUPLICATES

Plate Fee: $5.50

Registration Fee: $5.00

Driver’s License Fee: $5.00

Title Fee: n/a

Special Plates: Varies

Plate Disbursement

The DMV shall issue to the owner 1 registration plate for a motorcycle, trailer, semitrailer, or other motor vehicle upon registration.

Registration plates must be of a reflective material and display the registration number for the vehicle, the state (which may be abbreviated), and the year when the plate expires.

The registration plate must be legible from a distance of 150 feet during daylight.

The registration number for plates shall begin with the number 2.

Registration plates must be attached to the rear of the vehicle, except for truck tractors and road tractors designed and constructed to pull trailer and semitrailers when plates on the rear would not be visible. In that case, plates must be on the front.

The registration plate must be securely fastened in a horizontal position and must be at a height of not less than 12 inches from the ground.

Disabled license plates and placards are available by application to DMV, accompanied by statement of disability from physician or prescribed form.

The color scheme for license plates is blue and gold on white.

Transfer of Plates

If the owner of a vehicle has made an application within 60 days from the date of purchase of a vehicle to have the registration plate transferred to another vehicle owned by him or her, then he or she may operate the vehicle for a period of 60 days while application is pending.

Upon the transfer of a vehicle, the original owner must retain the plates and notify the DMV of the transfer and deliver the certificate of registration. The DMV shall issue a new registration certificate that indicates the use for the plates. The owner may then use the plate on another vehicle as indicated by the registration certificate.

The registered owner of a vehicle may surrender its plate to the DMV along with the registration card and receive pro-rated fees for a different vehicle of a different class.

Driver's License Examination

Upon presenting one proof of identity, one proof of Social Security number, two proofs of WV residency with name and physical address, and proof of legal name change document(s) if the name has changed or is different than the provided proof of identity document, the DMV shall examine applicants for a license to operate a motor vehicle.

The examination shall include a test of the applicant’s eyesight (20/40 visual acuity or better); ability to read and understand highway signs regulating, warning, and directing traffic; knowledge of traffic laws; and knowledge of the effects of alcohol on persons operating vehicles.

The examination shall include an actual demonstration of the ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable control in the operation of a vehicle, and any physical or mental examination as the DMV considers necessary to determine the applicant’s fitness to operate a motor vehicle safely.


Graduated Driver's Licensing

West Virginia has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.

At age 15, individuals are eligible for an instruction learner’s permit.

  • An applicant for permit must pass a vision and written test.
  • A permit allows a person to operate a motor vehicle when accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age, or a driver education or driving school instructor.
  • Permit holders under age 18 may not drive between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and may not carry more than 2 passengers in addition to the supervisory driver.
  • Permit holders must complete 50 hours (including 10 hours at night) of certified practice driving, as recorded on a certification form completed by a parent or legal guardian.

At age 16, after holding a learner’s permit for 6 months and passing a road test, drivers are eligible for an intermediate license.

  • Intermediate license holders may not drive a vehicle unsupervised between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Intermediate license holders are prohibited from transporting passengers under the age of 20 during the first 6 months.  During the second 6 months, no more than 1 passenger under 20, except family members.
  • If a driver with an intermediate license receives 2 or more moving violations, the license will be suspended until age 18.

At age 17, drivers are eligible for an unrestricted license if they hold an intermediate license and have been infraction-free for 1 year.


Driver's License Issuance/Application

The application for a license or permit must contain the applicant’s: (1) full name, date of birth, sex, and residence address; (2) description; and (3) license history and status.

Each license issued shall contain the following: (1) a coded number assigned to the licensee; and (2) the full name, date of birth, residence address, description, signature, and color photograph of the licensee. Does not include social security number.

The license must indicate the type, general class, or class of vehicles the licensee is authorized to operate.

Driver’s licenses shall be issued in different colors for drivers under the age of 18, those drivers between the ages of 18 and 21, and those adult drivers over 21.

The DMV must not issue a license to a person who holds a valid license to operate a motor vehicle issued by another jurisdiction or state unless the applicant surrenders the license, or has submitted an affidavit verifying that the person has surrendered the license to the DMV.

Within 30 days of taking up residence in the state, a driver must apply to the DMV for a driver’s license unless exempt from the requirement.

A person must present his or her social security card to the DMV when applying for a license or instruction permit.


Driver's License Renewal

A driver’s license is valid for a period of 5 years.

The DMV shall notify each person who holds a valid driver’s license 90 days before the license expires and shall include in the notice a renewal application form.

A Level 1 Instruction Permit is not renewable.

  • An instruction permit (age 18 or over) is valid for 90 days and may be renewed one time prior to expiration, however, if expired a driver must retest, taking both the vision and written tests to obtain another instruction Permit valid for 90 days.

The driver’s license of any person in the U.S. Armed Forces is extended for a period of 6 months from the date the person is discharged under honorable circumstances from active duty.


Types of Driver's Licenses

A license may authorize the use of the following vehicles as indicated by the respective letters:

  • “A”–Combination Commercial Vehicles over 26,000 lbs.
  • “B”–Single Commercial Motor Vehicles over 26,000 lbs.
  • “C”–All other Commercial Vehicles and Buses
  • “D”–Non-Commercial Vehicles for Hire
  • “E”–Passenger Vehicles
  • “F”–Motorcycles Only
  • “G”–for persons using bioptic telescopic devices; and
  • “X”–Identification Card.

Distracted Driving

Texting while driving and handheld cell phone use are banned.  Instruction permit and intermediate license holders under 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.


Emergency Radio/Cellular

Citizen band radio channel 9 is not monitored for emergency calls. Emergency cell number is *SP.


Headsets

No prohibition on wearing of headsets while driving.


Impaired Driving

All 50 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating beverages, with the illegal per se limit set at 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (.08 BAC). All 50 states and the District of Columbia set the legal drinking age at 21.

Every state’s chemical test law has ‘‘an implied consent’’ provision providing that any person operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, who is suspected of driving while intoxicated, consents to a chemical test to determine if he or she is inebriated. Failure to submit or pass such a test may cause the driver’s license to be suspended or revoked regardless of any court action finding the person innocent of the charge.

The most comprehensive resource on U.S. impaired driving laws is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Digest of Impaired Driving and Selected Beverage Control Laws.  NHTSA’s Digest is updated annually.

West Virginia requires the use of ignition interlocks for all impaired driving offenders.


Move Over Law

State law requires drivers approaching and traveling in the same direction as a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, including a tow truck, that is flashing lights, to change to a non-adjacent lane if safe to do so, or to slow to no more than 15 mph on a non-divided highway or 25 mph on a divided highway.


Seat Belts

Seat belts are required for the driver and all front seat passengers age 18 and older.

Violation of the seat belt law is a standard offense.

Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is permitted.


Child Passenger Safety

Children ages 8 until 18 must be in a seat belt in all seats.

Children under age 8 must be restrained in a child passenger safety device.

Children under age 8 and at least 4 feet 9 inches may be in a safety belt in all seats.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


Railroad Crossing

The driver of a vehicle must stop within 50 feet but not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail of a railroad when: (1) a clearly visible electric or mechanical signal device gives warning of the immediate approach of a railroad train; (2) a crossing gate is lowered or when a human flagman gives or continues to give a signal of the approach of the passage of a railroad train; (3) a railroad train approaching within 1,500 feet of the highway crossing emits a signal audible from such a distance; or (4) an approaching railroad train is plainly visible and is in hazardous proximity to such a crossing.

It is not permissible to drive a vehicle through, around, or under a crossing gate or barrier at a railroad crossing while a gate or barrier is closed, or is being opened or closed.

The driver of a motor vehicle carrying passengers for hire, or of any bus, or of any vehicle carrying explosive substances, flammable liquids, or hazardous materials as cargo, or any vehicle owned by an employer which, in carrying out business, is carrying more than 6 employees of the employer must, before crossing at any track or tracks of the railroad, stop the vehicle within 50 feet but not less than 15 feet of the nearest rail. While stopped, the driver shall listen and look in both directions for an approaching train, or signals of an approaching train, and must not proceed until it is safe to do so. The driver must cross the tracks in a gear that does not require changing of the gears, and must not change gears while crossing.


School Buses

The driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus that has stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children, must stop the vehicle before reaching the school bus when the school bus is displaying flashing warning signal lights, and must not proceed until the school bus resumes motion, is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed, or the visual signals are no longer actuated. The driver of a vehicle upon a controlled access highway need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus that is on a different roadway or adjacent to such highway and where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the roadway.

Every school bus for the transportation of school children must bear on the front and rear a plainly visible sign that contains the words “school bus” in letters not less than 8 inches in height. Every school bus must display lighted headlamps when on the highway.

Bumper Height

The front and rear bumper height of motor vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 lbs. or less must be not less than 6 inches and not more than 31 inches.


Headlight Use

Headlights must be used from sunset to sunrise, when visibility less than 500 feet, and in conditions of insufficient light/adverse weather.


Hazard Light Use

Hazard lights are not permitted while driving except in emergency situations.


Tire Chains

Tire chain usage is permitted for hazardous weather or other related incidents only, but may not damage the highway surface.


Studded Tires

Studded tires are permitted November 1 to April 15.


Glass/Window Tinting

A sunscreening device, when used in conjunction with the automotive safety glazing materials on the side wings or windows located to the immediate right and left of the driver shall be of a non-reflective type with a reflectivity of not more than 20% and with a light transmission of not less than 35%.

The side windows behind the driver and the rear windows may have a sunscreening device that has a light transmission of not less than 35% and a reflectivity of not more than 20%.


Telematics

It is not permissible to operate a motor vehicle equipped with a television receiver unless the receiver is configured so that moving images are not in view of the driver while the vehicle is in motion.  Exempts GPS devices, mapping displays, rear-view cameras, backseat cameras, and television-type receiving equipment used exclusively for safety or traffic engineering information.


Radar Detectors

Radar detectors are permitted for passenger vehicles but prohibited for use by commercial vehicles.


Windshield Stickers

It is not permissible to drive a motor vehicle with any sign, poster, or other non-transparent material on the front windshield, side wings, or side or rear windows that obstructs the driver’s clear view of the highway.


Other Equipment Rules

N/A

Motorcycle Equipment

Every motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, and moped must display lighted headlamps at all times when on the highway.

Every motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, and moped must be equipped with: (1) at least 1 but not more than 2 headlamps; (2) at least 1 brake operated by hand or foot; and (3) a rearview mirror affixed to the handlebars or fairings, and adjusted so that the operator has a clear view of 200 feet.

The operator or passengers on a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle must wear a protective helmet with a neck or chin-strap; and safety, shatter-resistant eyeglasses, eye goggles, or face shields.

If any motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or moped is equipped with a windshield or windscreen, the windshield or windscreen must be constructed of safety, shatter-resistant material.

It is not permissible to operate a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or moped with handlebars or grips that are more than 15 inches higher than the uppermost part of the operator’s seat.

An operator of a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or moped may carry as many passengers as the vehicle or sidecar is designed for.


Motorcycle Licenses

A separate motorcycle examination is required to obtain a license that authorizes the operation of a motorcycle. The examination tests the applicant’s knowledge of the operation of a motorcycle, any traffic laws relating to the operation of a motorcycle, and includes an actual demonstration of the ability to drive a motorcycle.

Upon successful completion of an examination and paying the required fees, the DMV shall include a motorcycle endorsement on the license of the applicant or shall issue a special motorcycle-only license if the applicant does not possess a license.


Motorcycle Noise Limits

No statewide motorcycle noise limit restriction.


Mopeds & Other

Valid license required. Minimum age is 16.

Required safety equipment includes: headlamp, tail lamp, stop lamp, mirrors, horn, muffler, and brakes.

Trailer Dimensions

Total length: 65 feet (excluding bumpers); trailer length: 40 feet (excluding bumpers); motor home length: 45 feet (excluding bumpers); trailer width: 8 feet (excluding safety equipment); motor home width: 8 feet 6 inches (excluding safety equipment); height: 13 feet 6 inches.


Trailer Brakes

Every trailer or semitrailer with a gross weight of 3,000 lbs. or more when operated on a highway must be equipped with brakes adequate to control the vehicle, and designed to be applied by the driver of the towing vehicle. The brakes must be connected in such a way that in the case of an accidental breakaway of the towed vehicle, the brakes apply automatically.

In any combination of motor-driven vehicles, the means shall be provided for applying the rearmost trailer brakes, of any trailer equipped with brakes, in approximate synchronism with the brakes of the towing vehicle and developing the required braking effort on the rearmost wheels at the fastest rate; means must be provided for applying the braking effort on the rearmost trailer equipped with brakes; or both of the means provided if used in the alternate.

A motor vehicle or combination of motor-drawn vehicles must be capable of stopping at the following rates as if on a dry, smooth, level free road: (1) vehicles or combinations of vehicles with brakes on all wheels must be able to decelerate at a speed of 14 feet per second; and (2) vehicles or combinations of vehicles not having brakes on all wheels must be able to decelerate at a speed 10.7 feet per second.


Trailer Hitch/Signals

A drawbar or connection must be of sufficient strength to pull the weight towed and must not exceed 15 feet from one vehicle to another except when transporting poles, pipe, machinery, or other objects of a structural nature that cannot be dismembered.

When a vehicle is towing another, and the connection consists of a chain, rope, or cable, a white flag or cloth not less than 12 inches square must be displayed.


Trailer Lighting

Tail and brake lights are required. License plate lights and reflectors are also required. Turn signals are required where trailer obscures towing vehicle.


Trailer Mirrors

When a motor vehicle is constructed or loaded in such a way as to obstruct the driver’s view to the rear, mirrors must be equipped on the vehicle to give a view on the rear of at least 200 feet.


Trailer Speed Limits

55 mph, 70 mph where posted.


Trailer Towing

N/A.


Trailer Other Provisions

Riding in a towed trailer is permitted.

Accident Reporting

Crashes resulting death, injury, or property damage in excess of $1000.00 must be immediately reported.


Bail Bonds

Mandatory recognition of AAA arrest bond certificates up to $500, with specified exceptions.


Liability Laws

Has security-type law applicable in event of accident causing property damage in excess of $500 or personal injury or death.

The minimum liability coverage is: (1) $20,000 for bodily injury or death to 1 person in 1 accident; (2) $40,000 for bodily injury or death to 2 or more persons in 1 accident; and (3) $10,000 because of injury or destruction of property of others in any 1 accident.

Compulsory liability insurance is required.

Proof of coverage is required at all times. Noncompliance could result in fine, jail, and license suspension.

State has non-resident service of process law and guest suit law.


Weigh Stations

A police officer or motor carrier safety enforcement officer may require that the driver of a vehicle or combination of vehicles stop and submit to a weighing with a portable or stationary weighing device, or to drive to the nearest weighing station if within a distance of 2 miles from where vehicle is stopped.


Bicycles

Bicycle helmets are required for riders under 15 years old.


Other

West Virginia is party to the Non-resident Violator Compact.