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Teens Ask - How Do I Get a Driver's License?

The California Driver License Process for Teens

See the DMV Teen Drivers page for a detailed overview of the process and requirements.

After you have held your driving permit for 5 months, and you feel ready to take the "behind-the-wheel" driving test, make a DMV appointment by calling 1-800-777-0133 or make a DMV appointment online (select the Behind-the-Wheel Drive Test option). The California DMV computers only schedule 30 days in advance and appointments tend to fill up - so start early. Calculate the day you will become eligible and make an appointment on or after that date. You don't have to go to the same DMV office that gave you your permit, so look for available times at several nearby field offices if you can.

Before being eligible to take your driving test you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Have held your permit for a minimum of six months
  • Have completed driver education
  • Have completed 6 hours of professional driver training
  • Have completed 50 hours of practice with an adult 25 years or older. The adult must have a valid California driver license and certify to the 50 hours of practice. At least 10 of the 50 hours must have been done at night.

To take your driving test, you will need to:

Make a Behind-the-Wheel Drive Test appointment (drive tests are not given without an appointment.)
To make an appointment, call 1-800-777-0133 between the hours of 8am and 5pm Monday-Friday. Or you can make a DMV appointment online.

Provide proof of financial responsibility.

After you pass your driving test you will be issued an interim license valid for 90 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail. Check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or if your address is incorrect. If you have not received your license after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check on the status. Have your interim license with you to provide information when requested.

If you fail your driving test, you must wait two weeks before you can take the test again. You have three chances to pass.

Still have questions? Be sure to check with the California DMV for changes in laws and procedures. Driver Education is the first step in the Graduated Driver Licensing Program. We hope you become a safe and courteous driver.

The right way to go about getting your CA driver's license:

Getting a California driver's license means there are several steps you?ll need to take. And of course, one of the most important steps in the process is passing the California behind the wheel driving test. Here are some of the things you need to know when you start preparing for your California driving test.

First Things First...
It's important to follow all the steps in the right order. Of course you'll need to download a copy of the California Driver Handbook and familiarize yourself with it before you ever show up at the DMV.  Another thing you'll need to do, of course, is to complete the Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL-44), but don't sign it until you are at the DMV and told to do so.
The Handbook will give you all the information you need to be able to pass the written driver's license test, but you'll of course need to also pass the behind the wheel driving test with a DMV examiner if you want to successfully get a California driver's license.
The 6 hours of professional driver training and 50 hours of practice driving with an adult will help you intuitively do things like wearing your safety belt and remembering to use your turn signals and obey speed limits and traffic signs. But even with all that driving experience, you might still have a few questions. Here are the answers to a couple of the questions we hear the most from young drivers:
Do you have to parallel park in a California driving test?
The good news for teen drivers (and drivers of any age who don't have a lot of experience parking on busy city streets) is that parallel parking is NOT a requirement of your driving test. The most you will have to do is curbside parking -- a similar technique, but much easier because it only requires pulling up alongside a curb, not a complex maneuver between two parked cars.
What documents are needed for the CA behind the wheel driving test?
The documents that you'll need to bring to your driving test include:

  • Your DMV form DL-400D (the "Gold" certificate) as proof that you've completed 6 hours of behind the wheel driver training with a licensed driving instructor or driving school.
  • Proof of your vehicle's registration and your car insurance policy. Of course, it goes without saying that the vehicle you bring for the driving test should have valid license plates.
  • Your permit signed by a licensed driving instructor -- and, if you are a minor, your parent or guardian.
Be sure to wear your glasses or contacts, if you need them for driving, and bring any other items you need for driving as specified on your learner's permit.
How do you pass the behind the wheel test?
If you've taken our CA driving course and had the right amount of driving practice, you've got this! Get enough rest the night before taking the driving test, take your time, stay in the correct lane, and drive safely. Be careful to always use your turn signals and observe speed limits and traffic signs.
Taking the driving test in California generally takes 20 minutes at the most, and sometimes as little as 10 minutes. That doesn't sound like a lot, but there's a lot riding on the outcome of that test -- literally. We understand the anxiety that the CA behind the wheel driving test can inspire in young drivers, and we do our best to make sure you go into the test as prepared as possible so you pass the test the first time.

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