Frequently Asked Questions - California Teen Driver
- What restrictions come with my driver’s permit?
- What documents must I fill out at the DMV to get my permit/driver’s license?
- When can I get my driver’s license?
- What are the auto insurance requirements?
- What driver’s education is required?
- Once I get my permit, what do I need to do before I can drive with my parents?
- What are the requirements to apply for my driving permit?
- What restrictions if any are there for new drivers?
- What tests must I pass?
- What documents do I need to go to the DMV?
- What do I need before I can get my permit?
Anyone with a California provisional instruction permit will need to abide by the following restrictions:
• You must obey all of the traffic laws.
• You must operate a motor vehicle without having an auto accident.
• You must drive with your parent, legal guardian, spouse or another adult who is 25 years or older that has a valid California driver’s license.
• You must have your instruction permit for a period of six months before becoming eligible to take the driving test to obtain your driver’s license.
The accompanying adult driver must sit in the passenger seat next to you at all times.
Anyone who wants to apply for a California driver’s license or instruction permit must complete application form DL 44. You must also submit proof of identity, date of birth, provide a thumbprint and have your photo taken. The DMV will have you take a written exam that has 46 questions for an instruction permit and 36 questions if applying for a driver’s license.
Before applying for a provisional driver’s license, you must be able to pass a driving test. Applicants must meet the following requirements:
• Must be 16 to 18 years old
• Have had a California instruction permit for at least six months
• Have completed a driver education course
• Have completed 6 hours of a professional driver’s training course
• Have completed 50 hours of practice driving with an adult who is 25 years or older and holds a valid California driver’s license. At least 10 out of the 50 hours must include nighttime driving.
You can obtain an unrestricted license when you turn 18 years old, providing there are no restrictions or suspensions on your provisional driver’s license.
The State of California requires all drivers and vehicle owners to have proof of insurance. The minimum requirements include the following:
• $15,000 for injury or death (one person per accident)
• $30,00 for injury or death (two or more people per accident)
• $5,000 for property damage for each accident
The insurance policy identification card must be kept in the motor vehicle at all times. It should contain the name and address of the insurance company, the policy number and the period of coverage.
The minimum requirements that must be met before you can apply for a California provisional permit include the following:
• Complete 25 hours of classroom instruction (this does not include meal times or breaks).
• Complete a home study or Internet training program that is equivalent to the classroom instruction.
• Complete 6 hours of driver training behind the wheel (time as an observer in the motor vehicle does not count toward the required 6 hours).
• Driver training behind the wheel cannot exceed more than two hours each day.
Consider choosing a driving school that is in your area. This will make is easier to learn how to drive when you are familiar with the streets. Anyone over the age of 17 and a half but under 18 can obtain a provisional permit without completing driver education and driver training courses. However, applicants will not be eligible to take the driving test until they turn 18.
A California provisional instruction permit is not valid until you begin the driver’s training course. To validate the permit, your instructor must sign it. After that you must practice with an adult who is 25 years or older and has a valid California driver’s license. This person must sit close enough to you and be able to take control of the vehicle if necessary.
Anyone between the ages of 16 and 18 who holds a provisional license in California must abide by the following conditions:
• Drivers must be accompanied by a licensed adult driver who is 25 years old when driving between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am.
• Drivers must be accompanied by a licensed adult driver who is 25 years old when driving with passengers who are under the age of 20.
• A 30-day restriction will be placed upon the driver’s license if they accumulate two or more points on their record.
Drivers who accumulate three or more points within a 12-month period will have their license suspended for six months and placed on probation for a year. The court may also order you to pay a fine or perform community service depending on the seriousness of the violation(s).
The California DMV requires applicants to pass a written exam covering the traffic laws and road signs. There are a total of 46 questions and you must answer at least 39 correctly. Before taking the exam, review the California Driver Handbook that is available at each DMV office or on the DMV website. Each of the questions is in multiple-choice format with three possible answers. All test questions are taken directly from the handbook. A DMV employee can tell you which page to find the correct answer if you miss a question. When you pay the application fee, you will be given three chances to pass the written exam. If you fail the test, you must wait another seven days before taking it again.
The DMV requires all applicants to provide proof of their birth date and legal presence by presenting one of the following documents:
• United States birth certificate
• United States passport
• United States Certificate or Report of Birth Abroad (must be issued by the U.S. Dept. of State)
• Proof of Indian Blood Degree (must be issued by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs)
• American Indian Card issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
• Passport or birth certificate issued by a United States territory
• United States identification card*
• United States military identification card
• Common access card if designated as active duty military, active reserve or active selected reserve
• Certificate of Naturalization*
• Certificate of Citizenship*
• Northern Mariana card*
• Permanent resident card*
• Temporary resident identification card*
• Canadian birth certificate or passport
• Non-resident alien Canadian border crossing card*
• Valid foreign passport with I-94 form*
• Certification from California Youth Authority or California Department of Corrections
• Employment authorization card*
• Valid foreign passport stamped with “Processed for I-551”*
• Permanent resident reentry permit*
• Valid I-94 form stamped with “refugee” “asylee”, “parole or parolee” or Section 207, 207, 209, 212d(2), HP or PIP*
• Notice of action (I-797 approved petition)*
• Immigration order from judge granting asylum
• Mexican border crossing card with valid I-94 form*
• Certified judgment or court order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction with name, date and place of birth, status of legal presence and signature of the judge.
Note: All of the above documents marked with an asterisk (*) must be issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Before you apply for a California provisional instruction permit, you will need to provide one of the following if you are between 15 and a half and 17 and a half years old:
• Certificate of completion of Driver Education program
• Certificate of completion of Driver Education and Driver Training program
• Certificate of enrollment in a Driver Education and Driver Training program
• A DL 33 form completed by an out-of-state secondary school
• A letter from an out-of-state secondary school signed by a school official outlining the courses you took which must be equivalent to the California secondary school course
The DMV will not accept an out-of-state instructional permit as proof that you have completed a driver education and/or driver training program.