Now that you are familiar with West Virginia’s insurance requirements, it’s time to learn the road rules.
West Virginia is an at-fault state, which means the party who’s at fault for the accident pays for both property damage and bodily injury. Because of West Virginia’s modified comparative negligence law, you are not allowed to collect any damages if your fault is over 50 percent.
In West Virginia, 103,996 drivers are uninsured, which accounts for 9 percent of drivers.2 If you have more than one car on your policy, you can stack your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. To find your stacked amount of coverage, multiply your selected limit by your number of cars.
West Virginia keeps DUIs on your record for 10 years. For your first offense, your license will be suspended for six months, and you will need to install an ignition interlock device. If it is a second or subsequent offense, you need to keep your ignition interlock device for a year.
If your blood alcohol concentration is above 0.15 percent, you will be imprisoned for a minimum of 48 hours and have to pay a $200-$1,000 fine, even for a first offense. Your license will be suspended for 45 days, and you will be required to have an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for 270 days or nine months.
Seat Belt Laws
All drivers and passengers must wear seat belts on West Virginia roads. The seat belt law is under primary enforcement, meaning that police can ticket a driver or passenger without any other traffic violations.
Distracted Driving Laws
West Virginia has a handheld and texting ban for all drivers. If law enforcement catches you texting while driving, you’ll have to pay a fine of $100 to $300. West Virginia bans cell phone usage for drivers with an intermediate license or learner’s permit and those under 18 years old.
Teen Driver Laws
In West Virginia, you must graduate from both your instructional permit and your intermediate license to get your adult license. To receive your instructional permit, you must be 15 years old, have a current Driver’s Eligibility Certificate issued by your county school board, pass the written knowledge test and vision screening, and obtain written consent from a parent or legal guardian with Form DMV-233. While driving with the instructional permit, you must:
- Have a licensed driver age 21 or older in the front seat.
- Have no more than two non-family passengers in addition to the supervising adult.
- Only drive between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.
To receive your intermediate license, you must be 16 years old, have a current Driver’s Eligibility Certificate issued by your county school board, and pass the road skills test. While driving with your intermediate license, you must:
- Never drive with any non-family member under the age of 20 for the first six months of your license.
- Never drive with more than one non-family member under the age of 20 for the last six months of your license.
- Only drive between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. with a supervisor. Travels to and from work, school, a religious activity, or emergency services are exceptions.
To get your adult license, you must be 17 years old, have a current Driver’s Eligibility Certificate issued by your county school board, and have held your intermediate license with no violations for at least one year.
Statute of Limitations for Claims
After a car accident that involved property damage and personal injury, you have two years to file a claim. If you wait longer than two years, there is no guarantee that your provider will cover the claim.
Cancellation/Non-Renewal Notification Laws
In West Virginia, auto insurance providers must notify you of a midterm cancellation 30 days before the effective date, no matter the reason for cancellation. They cannot cancel policies that have been in effect for over 60 days unless you don’t pay the premiums, commit fraud or misrepresentation on your application, or have a revoked or suspended license.
If your provider doesn’t intend to renew your plan after expiration, it must notify you 45 days before the expiration date and explain its reasoning. Providers often drop policies because they no longer offer that type of insurance or don’t want to write as many policies in your area, or because you were caught driving drunk.
West Virginia allows self-insurance if you have more than 25 registered vehicles. To qualify, you must have $100,000 of total assets with commissioner approval4.
Car Inspection Requirements
As a driver in West Virginia, you must get your car inspected every 12 months at an official inspection station licensed by the West Virginia State Police. To find your county’s inspection station, go to the West Virginia page at Emissions.org5.
When your vehicle passes the inspection, you will receive a sticker for the inside of your windshield, which is valid for a year. Driving with an invalid sticker is illegal.
The inspectors will need to verify your legal registration and insurance certificate. They will check these components of your car:
- Safety glass
- Sheet metal, bumpers, fender, and frame
- Horn, rearview mirror, windshield wipers, and plate mounting
- Brake system
- Front-end and steering components
- Tires and wheels
- Lights, safety devices, and seat belts
An SR-22 is a temporary certificate to show you meet the state’s insurance minimums after committing a serious offense. West Virginia does not require SR-22s, but if you are convicted of a serious driving offense, you should expect your insurance rates to increase.
The state of West Virginia does not require defensive driving courses, but you can take them to remove three points from your license, dismiss a traffic ticket, or get a discount on auto insurance. You can only take a defensive driving course for a point reduction once a year. Courses are offered online and in person and take four to eight hours.
Serious Injury and Monetary Thresholds
West Virginia does not have any serious injury or monetary thresholds you must meet if you are in an accident and want to sue. Because West Virginia is an at-fault state, you can sue for economic and noneconomic damages regardless of the severity of your injuries or your monetary losses.
Accident Reporting Requirements
If an accident involves injury, property damage, or death worth over $1,000, report it to the police immediately. If you do not report as soon as possible, the state will suspend your license.
In West Virginia, insurance providers can use your credit score and gender to determine your premiums. You can expect higher premiums if you are male or have a low credit score, and lower premiums if you are female or have a high credit score.
Total Loss Threshold
A total loss is when the vehicle cannot be repaired safely, the repairs cost more than the vehicle’s estimated value, or the damage meets the state’s total loss guidelines. In West Virginia, a car is a total loss if the cost of damage exceeds 75 percent of the car’s actual market value.