- Driving in the U.S.
- Driving is the most common form of transportation in the United States. In this brochure we hope to provide you with tips that will keep you safe during your time in the United States. We will provide you with information about purchasing and driving your own car as well as utilizing the public transportation that is available in the area.
Purchasing Your Own Car
Purchasing your own car is a big investment and should only be done after careful consideration. If you are unsure about any part of the process you should contact the Office of International Programs (OIP) or ask a friend who has already purchased a car to go with you. Remember that the state of Indiana will charge you a 7% sales tax which can possibly add hundreds of dollars to your purchase. Also, once you have purchased the car, you must go to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to title and register the vehicle. Remember, Indiana law requires that you have your car registration, proof of insurance and Driver’s License (or Learner’s Permit) with you at all times while driving. However, the title should always be left at home.
Insurance is a legal requirement in the state of Indiana before you operate a vehicle. There are several locations around the area where you may purchase insurance. You may also purchase insurance online. We have some links to local insurance agencies in our Helpful Links section on the back of the brochure.
Learning to Drive
If you have never driven before or if you simply feel uncomfortable with the laws of driving in the United States, then it may be a good idea to attend a driving school before you begin driving. In our Helpful Links section, we have listed the two schools that are located in Valparaiso.
Obtaining a Driver’s License
To apply for a driver’s license, all international students should bring the following documents to the Indiana BMV:
I-20 or DS-2019 (Current)
Passport & Visa
Current I-94 (The card stapled to your Passport)
2 Proofs of Indiana Residency*
Social Security Card or Letter of Ineligibility**
*Acceptable examples are recent cell-phone and utility bills and bank statements with your correct address.
**If you do not have a social security card, then please stop by OIP and we will help you obtain a Letter of Ineligibility. OIP will give you a signed document that you will take to the Social Security Administration to get the letter.
Bringing all of the proper documents is only the beginning of the BMV process. If you have a driver’s license from your home country then you will be able to apply for an Indiana driver’s license. You must bring either a translation of your license or bring your international driver’s license if your license from your home country does not include English.
Then you will be allowed to take a written test and, once this is passed, schedule a driver’s test. When both of these tests have been passed, the BMV will send all of your documentation down to Indianapolis and you should typically receive your license in the mail within 30 days.
If you do not have a driver’s license in your home country, then you must first obtain an Indiana Learner’s Permit. Bring all of your documentation to the Indiana BMV and inform them that you wish to take the written exam for the Learner’s Permit, please arrive at least one hour before closing time. The BMV hours can be found on their website in the Helpful Links section. Once you have been issued the Learner’s Permit, you may only drive when you have someone who has an Indiana Driver’s License riding in the passenger’s seat. Once you hold the Permit for 60 days, then you may begin the process to obtain a Driver’s License.
Rules of the Road
While you are driving, be sure to observe laws, including the posted signs. In addition, when you hear a siren, be sure to pull over to the side of the road. If your vehicle is pulled over by a police officer, remain calm and keep your hands on the steering wheel in plain sight. If you are involved in a car accident, be sure to call 911 right away and make sure that you exchange insurance information with the other person. For more tips on driving, you can either visit the Indiana BMV website or go to a local branch to pick up a driver’s manual.
Valparaiso has an economically and environmentally friendly alternative to driving known as the V-Line. The V-Line is available to travel around the city of Valparaiso. In our Helpful Links section, we have included the website for the V-Line. Online you can access their schedules and routes.
In addition to the V-Line, many students find walking or riding a bike a viable option during most of the year. Many of the restaurants and stores, including the downtown area, are within walking distance from the campus. However, during the winter months, many students seek other forms of transportation.
Indiana BMV: www.in.gov/bmv
Nationwide Insurance: www.nationwide.com
Allstate Insurance: http://www.allstate.com
American Family Insurance: www.amfam.com
State Farm Insurance: www.statefarm.com
Farm Bureau Insurance: www.infarmbureau.com
ChicaGo Dash: www.chicagodash.com
South Shore Train: www.nictd.com
Excel Driving: www.exceldriving.com
Valpo Driving: http://sites.google.com/site/digital82711/professionaldrivinginstruction
OIP Website: www.valpo.edu/international