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How Do I Get a Drivers License?

Questions about the California Driver License and DMV?

How do I get my California Driving Permit and my California DMV Drivers License?

The entire process can be confusing, so we've included the necessary steps and requirements here.

1 California DMV Driver Education

To earn your California Driving Permit any minor, under the age of 17 1/2 years of age, must complete a driver education course and receive your certificate of completion. We will mail you this certificate, with no shipping cost, within 2-7 business days after you pass the online test.

Before you go to DMV to take your permit test, practice the sample tests below. Remember, all the test questions are taken from the California Driver Handbook (PDF). You can also pick up a printed copy at any DMV office.  Start reviewing it while you wait for your certificate to arrive in the mail. The handbook contains a lot of information and may take you a few days to get through it.

Start Practicing! Be prepared by taking these Sample Practice Tests provided by the DMV:

 

2 Getting your California Driving Permit

Once you are at least 15 1/2 years of age, you may take the DMV's written test for your permit. You do not need to make a DMV appointment for the written test, but it is sometimes beneficial, especially at the busier DMV field offices. Tests are not given after 4:30pm.

Be sure to take the following to your California DMV...

  • a parent or legal gaurdian
  • certificate of driver education completion (the pink DL 400C we send you for completing this course)
  • your Social Security Card and/or have the number
  • your Birth Certificate - certified copy (must have state seal embossed on it)

See the complete DMV under 18 check list for current requirements.
They will ask for these at the appointment window. If you don't have them, you won't get past the window!

If you did NOT pass the California Driving Permit test (the written test at the DMV) on your first try, please look at your application. You will see TWO different dates below your name. One says DATE ISSUED and the other says EXPIRATION DATE. You have ONE YEAR to complete the process of getting your permit AND your license, and the clock starts ticking from the day you pay the fee and submit the application. If the 6-month waiting period is beyond the EXPIRATION DATE, you will have to re-take the written test, pay another fee, and get another permit. PERMITS ARE NOT RENEWABLE.

3 Drivers Training before your Driving Test

Once you have your Driver Education Certificate of Completion, you should enroll in a behind-the-wheel course of driver training. This will usually entail scheduling and paying for at least ONE lesson with a commercial driving school.

After you have the California Driving Permit, it is NOT VALID until you have taken your first lesson with a California DMV- or Department of Education-licensed Driving Instructor. You cannot drive on the permit, even with your parents, until that first lesson. If you are caught driving on an invalid permit, you are guilty of "driving without a license," and your parents are guilty of "allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a motor vehicle."

When you get your California Driving Permit, call your driving school and get the earliest possible schedule, since your permit won't become valid until then.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You are required to keep your permit a minimum of 6 months, irrespective of when you turn 16. If you are already 16, you must still keep the permit for 6 months before you will be eligible for the driving test.

4 The Driving Test

After you have held your permit for 5 months, and you feel ready to take the driving test, begin calling the California DMV for a schedule for your driving test. The California DMV computers only schedule 30 days in advance, and they tend to fill up the time slots early, so start early. Calculate the day you will become eligible, and then start calling for a schedule on or after that date. You don't have to go to the same DMV office that gave you your permit, so ask for available times at several nearby field offices.

Be sure to bring to your driving test:

  • a parent or legal gaurdian
  • your Social Security Card and/or have the number
  • your Birth Certificate - certified copy (must have state seal embossed on it)
  • Current registration for the vehicle you will be using for the test
  • Proof of insurance

They will ask for these at the appointment window. If you don't have them, you won't get past the window!

Still have questions? Be sure to check with the California DMV for changes in laws and procedures. We hope you become a safe and courteous driver.

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