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Frequently Asked Questions
  • Applying for Your California License
  • Preparing For Your CA Permit Test
  • Taking Your CA Permit Test
  • Preparing For Your CA Driving Exam (or Road Test)
  • Taking your CA Driving Exam (or Road Test)
  • After You Have Passed the Driving Exam (or Road Test)
  • What If I Failed My Road Test?
  • Renewing Your CA License
  • What If I'm Moving to California or Just Visiting?
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Have a Driving Related Question?
Applying for Your California License
At what age can I apply for my permit in CA?
To apply for your learner's permit in CA, you have to be at least 15 1/2 years old.
What documents do I need to apply for my license if I am under the age of 18?
When you apply for your license, you will need to bring with you the application fee, Form DL44 Driver's License application that is signed by your parent or legal guardian, your social security number, your full legal name, an original birth certificate or proof of legal presence, a Certficate of Completion of Driver's Education or a Certificate of Completion of Driver's Education and Driver Training or a Certificate of Enrollment in A Classroom Driver Education and Driver Training.
What documents do I need to apply for my license if I am over the age of 18?
When you apply for your license, you will need to bring with you the application fee, Form DL 44 Driver's License Application, your social security number, your full legal name, your original birth certificate or proof of legal presence.
What document is an acceptable proof of my legal presence in the United States?
The DMV accepts a number of documents as proof of your legal presence. Here are a few examples: a certified copy of your U.S. Birth Certificate from state or local vital statistics office, your U.S Certificate of Birth Abroad or Report of Birth Abroad, Federal Proof of Indian Blood Degree, USCIS American Indian Card, Birth Certificate or passport issued from a U.S. territory, U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card, U.S. Military Idenfication Cards, Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship, Permanent Resident Card, Temporary Resident Identification Card, Canadian Passport/Birth Certificate, Non-Resident Alien Canadian Border Crossing Card, Permanent Resident Re-entry Permit, Refugee travel document, Certification from California Department of Corrections or California Youth Authority, Employment Authorization Card, Valid I-94 Stamped with attached photo stamped "Processed for I-551 temporary evidence of lawful admission for permanent residence," Immigration judge's order granting asylum, Mexican Border Crossing Card with valid I-94, or a U.S. Border Crossing Identification Card with valid I-94.
Where do I go to apply for my driver's license in CA?
When you are ready to apply for your driver's license, you should visit your local DMV office. You can find a list of DMV offices at http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/fo/offices/toc_fo.htm.
How can I contact the DMV office in CA?
You can reach the DMV by calling (800)-777-0133 or by going online: www.dmv.ca.gov
Who do I need to bring with me for my permit test in CA?
Your parent, legal guardian, licensed driving instructor who 25 years old or older or spouse must accompany you to your exam.
Do I need to do a medical physical exam before I obtain a permit in CA?
No. You don't need a physical.
Do I need to complete a vision test before I apply?
Yes. A vision test is required when applying for a driver's license in CA. You must have 20/40 acuity with or without glasses.
Can I choose where I have my photo taken for my driver's license?
No. You are only allowed to have your photo taken at the DMV office after you have completed and passed your written test.
What must I do after I've applied for my CA license?
If you applied for your CA license and you passed your written exam, the DMV will issue you a permit. This permit will be valid for 12 months. You must wait 6 months before you can schedule your road test appointment. During this waiting period, you must complete 50 practice hours on the road accompanied by a driver who is at least 25 years old. During this period, you should also finish your driver's education class and complete 6 hours of professional driver's training.
Preparing For Your CA Permit Test
What should I use to study for my CA permit test?
The California Driver's Manual and our website's test questions.
Where can I get a 2015 CA Driver's Manual?
For the most recent CA Driver's Manual, you can visit your local DMV office or access the manual online at www.dmv.ca.gov.
Are there chapters of the CA Driver's Manual that I can skip reading?
The best way to prepare yourself for your permit test is to read the entire manual. There is information in the manual that will help you pass your permit test, but more importantly there is information in the manual that will help you become a better driver.
Do I need to complete a Driver's Education course in order to be eligible for a CA learner's permit?
If you are under 18 years old, you need to complete a Driver's Education course. If you are over 18, you do not.
What kind of questions should I expect to encounter when taking my CA Permit Test?
The questions cover the rules of the road. The types of questions will differ. You want to know about speed limits, crossings, line colors, blind intersections, road signs, passing lanes, parking distances, parallel parking, center left turn lanes, sharing the road and more.
Where can I take my permit test in CA?
It's best to take your permit test at your local DMV office. To schedule your appointment call 1-800-777-01333 or visit www.dmv.ca.gov.
Taking Your CA Permit Test
How do I sign up for a CA permit?
You sign up for your CA permit through the DMV office. Visit www.dmv.ca.gov for more information about how you can schedule an appointment.
When am I eligible to apply for my CA permit?
You must be at least 15 1/2 years old to apply.
What documents do I need to bring with me to take my permit test if I am under 18?
When you apply for your license, you will need to bring with you the application fee, Form DL44 Driver's License application that is signed by your parent or legal guardian, your social security number, your full legal name, an original birth certificate or proof of legal presence, a Certficate of Completion of Driver's Education or a Certificate of Completion of Driver's Education and Driver Training or a Certificate of Enrollment in A Classroom Driver Education and Driver Training.
How much is the permit test?
The application is $31. This fee includes the cost of your permit and road test.
Do I have to bring my parents with me when I take my permit test?
The DMV does not require your parents accompany you to your permit test, but you will need a responsible licensed driver who is over 25 years old to accompany you.
How many questions are on the CA permit test?
Typically, the permit test includes 46 questions.
How many questions do I need to answer correctly in order to pass?
You must answer 39 out of 46 questions correctly in order to pass.
What are common mistakes applicants make on the CA permit test?
The biggest common error is rushing through the questions. During your permit test remember to relax, take your time and answer the questions thoughtfully.
Is the CA permit test open book?
No. The CA permit test is not an open book test. Under no circumstances are you allowed to use your CA Driver's Manual or any other study guides during the exam.
Do I have to pass a drug test before obtaining my CA learner's permit?
A drug test is required. You agree to submit a chemical test when you sign your application. This drug test will determine the amount of alcohol and/or drugs in your blood stream at the time of the test.
What happens if I don't pass my written test?
You may retake the written test up to three times before you have to pay another $31 application fee.
Do I have to wait to retake my written test?
Yes. You must wait 7 days to schedule a retest.
Once I have my permit who can I drive with?
A licensed California driver, who is over 25, must sit next to you whenever you are behind the wheel and driving. You can have others in the car as well, but these individuals must be seated in the back seat, and they must wear a seat belt.
What happens after I pass my permit test?
After you have passed your permit test, you must wait at least 6 months before you can schedule your road test. During this time, you must complete 50 practice hours on the road with a licensed California driver, who is over 25, ten of which must be completed at night. You must also complete your Driver's Education course and complete 6 hours of professional driver's training.
Preparing For Your CA Driving Exam (or Road Test)
What skills should I develop and cultivate for my CA road test?
For your CA road test you should know how to handle a vehicle safely. You should know how to pull off smoothly, back up safely, accelerate and brake steadily, drive on the freeway, drive through intersections, parallel park, change lanes and more.
Where can I go to practice driving?
You may practice anywhere. Generally, you want to practice on familiar streets before you try new and less familiar areas. If you're interested in driving schools, there are plenty available. Just make sure those schools offer behind the wheel training.
What is the road test like?
Experiences of the road test will differ depending on your mood, personality, etc. You should expect the driving exam to test your ability to drive safely, accurately and efficiently. Your examiner will first ask to see your instruction permit and proof of vehicle insurance. If you are under 18, your instructor will also ask to see your driver education and driver's training completion certificate.
Is the road test difficult?
The driving exam or road test is most difficult for those who are not prepapred. It may also be difficult if you are nervous or anxious on the test day. The test lasts 20 minutes approximately. Try to remain calm, remember what you have learned and apply the knowledge you have learned.
Is there anything I should avoid doing the night before my road test?
The night before your road test, you should avoid staying up late, neglecting a last minute study session, partying and forgetting to check out your testing car.
How do I schedule a driving exam?
The CA DMV now has an online appointment system. You may schedule your appointment by visiting www.dmv.ca.gov or you may call 1-800-777-01333 to schedule.
Where do I go to take my CA road test?
You must take your CA road test at your local DMV office.
What standards must the vehicle I choose for my road test meet?
You must supply your own car for your driving test. The vehicle must be in good working condition and safe to drive. Before you begin your test, the examiner will check that your car has two license plates, working brake lights, good tires, an emergency parking brake, front signal and back signal lights that are working, two rear view mirrors and a windshield without cracks.
Taking your CA Driving Exam (or Road Test)
Who can accompany me to my CA Driving Exam?
Anyone older than 25, who has a valid California driver's license.
What tips should I know to pass my CA road test?
To pass your CA road test, you must demonstrate to the examiner that you can drive safely and effectively. The examiner pay close attention to whether you watched for pedestrians, judged the traffic and used your mirrors. During your driving exam, make sure you always signal when merging into traffic, do not drive too quickly or too slowly and stay in control of the vehicle. Remember to buckle up, adjust your mirros when you get into the car, look into the mirror and over your shoulder before merging into traffic, keep both hands on the steering wheel and stop appropriately behind crosswalks and limit lines.
What will I have to do on my CA road test?
You must demonstrate to the examiner that you know how to drive safely and effectively. You will show the examiner that you know how to control your vehicle while you are backing up, driving through intersections, making left and right changes and driving through residential and business neighborhoods.
Do I have to take the written exam again when taking my CA road test?
No. Once you have taken the permit test, you don't need to take the written exam again.
Can I have anyone in the car with me during my CA road test?
No. The only persons allowed in the vehicle during your road test is yourself and the examiner.
Can I retake the driving exam if I fail?
Yes. You can retake the CA driving exam three times before you must reapply. Reapplying means filing out another Form DL 44, paying the application fee again, passing the written exam and the vision test and taking another picture and thumb print. You will also have to present your Social Security Number and your true full legal name again.
After You Have Passed the Driving Exam (or Road Test)
What happens after I pass my CA road test?
Once you have passed the road test satisfactorily, you will be given an interim license that will be valid for ninety days. Your actual license will arrive in the mail approximately 2 weeks after you have completed your test.
If I'm under 18, are there any limits to my driver's license?
Yes. If you are under 18, within the first year of obtaining your license, you must have a licensed driver over 25 accompany you when you are carrying passengers under the age of 20. A licensed driver over 25 must also be present if you are driving between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am unless it is a medical emergency. If you must drive during 11 pm and 5 am for employment reasons then you must have a note signed by your legal guardian.
Do I need to have car insurance?
Yes. The state of California requires you have insurance that will cover $15,000 per person for bodily injuries to those in the other vehicle, $30,000 in bodily injury per accident and $5,000 worth of property liability coverage for the car and posession of the other vehicle.
What do I need in order to apply for car insurance?
You need a car, a license and any possible driver's education certificate you posess to demonstrate that you have had proper driving training.
How much does car insurance cost?
The cost of car insurance varies depending on various factors like your age, how many people will be on your policy, what type of car you will drive, your driving record and the insurance company you choose.
Why is car insurance so expensive when the driver's license is new?
According to the CA DMV, about 50% of drivers between the ages of 15-19 are involved in some kind of traffic violation within their first year of driving. Because new drivers (especially teens) have this higher risk of being in an accident, insurance companies often charge more to cover them.
What If I Failed My Road Test?
When can I retake my CA Driving Exam if I failed?
If you failed your CA Driving Exam, you must wait at least 2 weeks before you can reschedule your road test. You have three opportunities to pass the road test before you must reapply again.
What should I do if I failed my CA road test?
The examiner will tell you the areas you need to improve upon if you fail your road test. Take the examiner's advice and practice, targetting specially those weaker areas the examiner pointed out. You must wait 2 weeks before rescheduling your test. During that time, it's important to practice. Don't rush to take the exam to oquickly. Make sure you are ready before you pay the retest fee and schedule to take the test again.
Renewing Your CA License
What documents do I need to renew my license?
To renew your license, you will need a new Form DL 44 Driver's License Application at the very least. In some circumstances, you may need to retake the written test. Your renewal notice will inform you whether the written test is necessary. If you have to retake the written test, you only need to answer the first 18 out of 36 questions correctly.
Can I renew my CA driver's license online?
You may renew your license online if you have a renewal notice in the mail with a renewal Identification Number, and if you have the same address and your Social Security Number on record at the DMV. You must also have a valid credit card.
When do I have to renew my license by mail?
You are always able to renew your license in person. You may renew your license by mail if your driver license doesn't expire in more than 60 days from the date you are renewing and you are under 70. You also must not have violated a promise to appear in court in the past two years, not have two consequence five year extensions in the mail and not have any driving probations. Additionally, you cannot have a driver's license from more than one state or jurisdiction to be able to apply by mail.
Do I need to take another eye exam before renewing my CA driver's license?
It's a good idea to have your eyes regularly checked. However, it is not required that you take an eye exam unless a physician has otherwise specified that is necessary.
What If I'm Moving to California or Just Visiting?
If I am moving to CA from another state, do I need to pass a CA driving test?
You do not need to pass a CA Driving Exam if you already hold a valid license in another state, as long as you are prepared to surrender your out-of-state license. If you do not have an out-of-state license, you will have to take the driver's test.
Will my out-of-state permit be accepted in California?
Your out-of-state permit will only be accepted if you can provide proof from your driver's education course. This requires either filling out a Form DL 33 "To Secondary Schools Other than California Schools," which you can obtain from your local DMV office or by calling 1-800-777-01333, or you can have the out-of-state secondary school write a letter confirming that teh courses you have taken are equivalent to CA secondary school course. This letter must be on the out-of-state secondary school's stationary, and it must be signed by a school official.
How long can I drive in CA with my out-of-state license if I am a visitor?
If you are a visitor over 18 with a valid driver's license from your home state, you may drive in CA for as long as you like without obtaining a California Driver's License. However, if you are between 16-18 years old then you may only drive with your out-of-state license for 10 days. After 10 days, you must have a CA driver's license or a Nonresident Minor's Certificate, which is issued by the DMV office) with proof of financial responsibility.