How to Get a Driver’s License in California

Basic License Requirements

The fact that you have permission by the state to be able to drive on public roadways is demonstrated by the California driver license. Most DMV offices allow you to apply for the California Permit Test. Driving in California without a valid driver license is a misdemeanor. If you are caught your vehicle may be impounded, you could be cited and you could have to appear in court. Your social security number (SSN) and the document that states your date of birth or legal presence must be provided when you apply for an original DL/ID card.

Drivers that fall between the ages of fifteen and a half and seventeen and a half are required to enroll in a driver’s education course that has been approved by the state. This is required by California law before being able to apply for a permit. This is not a legal requirement if you are older than seventeen and a half but by taking this course you will be increasing your chances of passing your test.

Getting a driver’s license is a huge milestone and exciting experience for all teenagers who are seeking the freedom to roam and no longer worry about catching a ride. However, the process can come with some worries too because it often is complicated and overwhelming for new drivers. Luckily, the following is a detailed step-by-step guide on how you can receive a California driver’s license in hand and get behind the wheel a little more easily.

1. Enroll in a Driver’s Education Course

Before being eligible to apply for a provisional permit, California state laws require that drivers between the ages of 15½ and 17½ enroll in a state-approved driver’s education course. If you are 17½ or older, you are allowed to skip to step number two, but it is still recommended that you consider taking the course to soak up as much information as possible. In order to be approved by the DMV, the driver’s education course must be at least 30 hours of instruction in a public or private high school or a licensed driver’s education school. In recent years, the DMV has also started to approve online driver’s education courses to complete outside of a conventional classroom setting as well.

2. Study and Practice Your Driving Knowledge

Once you have completed driver’s education, it is still important to polish all of your new skills by studying for the written examination. At any DMV office location, you are encouraged to pick up a California Driver’s Handbook to help aid in your studies. Since the handbook contains all the information that will be given on the exam, it is important to study it until you know the whole book inside and out. It is also beneficial to further your studying online with a free practice test to test your knowledge and ensure you can proceed to the next step with confidence.

3. Complete the California Class C Written Test

When you arrive at the DMV office to take the knowledge exam for your appointment, you will need to present verification of your legal presence and age through a birth certificate, as well as a certificate of completion from your driver’s education course. Then, you must fill out the Form DL-44 application completely and truthfully. It is required that all applicants under the age of 18 have parents or legal guardians sign the application on site. You will immediately have to pay the $32 application fee, which includes the testing fees and new license cost. After passing a vision exam, you will proceed to the examination room to take the test.

The knowledge examination consists of 46 written questions about essential California traffic regulations, road signs, laws, and safety procedures. In order to pass the test, you will need to score at least 39 correct answers. However, you are given three attempts at passing the exam if you fail, and you may take the examination again in one week. Once the written test is passed with flying colors, you will earn a Provisional Learner’s Permit.

4. Gain Hands-On Driving Experience

Although the provisional permit proves that you have a solid basic understanding of being an excellent driver, actual driving experience behind the wheel is required. California drivers permits are valid for 12 months, so there is ample opportunity to gain vital hands-on practice. Before you will be eligible to schedule a road exam, it is required that you have proof of at least 50 hours of driver training with a qualified, licensed driver over the age of 25. 10 of the 50 hours must be completed at nighttime for a well-rounded driving experience. It is also necessary for you to finish at least six hours of training with a professional driving instructor approved by the state too.

5. Schedule a Road Test

After finishing the 50 hours of training and holding the permit for a minimum of six months, you may schedule the road test whenever you are ready. To do so, you must fill out the application for the provisional driver’s license and make an appointment for the driving test. When it is time for the test, the examiner will need to see your driver’s permit, proof of registration and insurance for the vehicle you are testing in, and approval by a parent or guardian if you are under 18. During the test, you will be examined on your basic driving skills, maneuvers, safety measures, and rules of the road. Always remember to check your mirrors regularly, keep eyes on the road, and turn your head to change lanes.

6. Receive Your Provisional Driver’s License

Congratulations! Passing your road test means you are now the proud owner of a California provisional driver’s license. During the provisional period, you are not allowed to drive without supervision by a licensed driver over 25 and you cannot drive between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM. Once you turn 18 years old though, these restrictions will magically disappear and you will automatically be awarded an unrestricted California driver’s license!

Fee Schedule

Class C:
The fee is $33 for original license, renewal or adding a motorcycle license (Class M1/M2).

The $27 fee for the duplicate license, name change or adding a firefighter endorsement.

Driving (behind-the-wheel) retest fee is $6

Identification Card (ID):
The fee is $28 for original, renewal, duplicate, name change, and emancipated minor

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