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Learner's Permit California

How to apply for a learner's permit: California



Learner's Permit California

We get it, teens: getting your driver's license is a thrilling experience. No more begging for rides to the mall or twiddling your thumbs after practice while waiting for your parents. That's all history once you get your California driver's license.

While the process of obtaining your license may appear to be complicated, we're here to make it simple. We've simplified and explained the process so that it's simple to follow and understand. You'll be on your way in no time!

What are the age requirements for different types of driving permits and licenses in California?

  • Junior Permit: You can apply at the age of 14 if you can demonstrate a specific hardship that requires you to drive.
  • Provisional Permit: There are two options here:
    • If you've completed a driver's education course, you can apply at the age of 15 and a half.
    • You must wait until you are 17 and a half years old if you have not completed driver's education.
  • Provisional license: Can be obtained at the age of 16, but only if you have completed driver's education.
  • Full Driver's License: When you reach the age of 18, you can apply for a full driver's license.

Take a Driver's Education Course

If you are a California teen between the ages of 15 1/2 and 17 1/2, you must complete a Driver's Ed course before applying for your learner's permit.

What to expect from your Driver's Ed class:

  • At least 25 hours of instruction should be included.
  • You can take it at your high school or a state-approved driver's education school.

You can apply for your permit at the age of 17 1/2 even if you haven't taken a Driver's Ed course. However, we strongly advise you to finish the program because it will help you be fully prepared to hit the road.


Getting Your California Provisional Permit

Obtaining your provisional permit is the first major step toward obtaining your driver's license. This procedure varies slightly depending on your age and the type of permit you're seeking:

  • If you're between the ages of 15 1/2 and 17 1/2, you'll need to take a Driver's Ed course before you can get your permit. However, if you have not completed a Driver's Ed course, you will have to wait until you are 17 1/2 years old to obtain your permit.
  • You must also choose between a federally compliant REAL ID permit/driver's license and a non-compliant permit/license. The documents you must bring to the DMV vary depending on your choice.

You're ready to go to the DMV for your vision and written test exams once you've gained confidence from practicing with a test. What you'll need is as follows:

  • A completed and signed Driver License and Identification Card Application by your parent or guardian. You can do this in advance online or in person at the DMV. Your parents can even sign electronically using the online application.
  • Proof of your identity, Social Security number (which the DMV will electronically verify), and California residency are all required. The DMV has guidelines on acceptable documents for a REAL ID or non-compliant permit, and your parents can assist you with some documents, such as proof of residency.
  • A certificate proving completion of a CA driver's education course, but only if you are under the age of 17 1/2. The fee is $41.

Your written exam will include questions from the CA DMV Handbook on California traffic laws, road signs, and safe driving practices. You must score at least 80% to pass, and you have three chances. If you fail, you must wait seven days before taking it again.

The $41 fee covers three exams spread out over a year and covers both your learner's permit and provisional license. However, if you do not complete all requirements within 12 months, your application will be void and you will have to restart the process.

After that, you get to practice driving!

*Note: Drivers who are at least 14 years old may apply for a junior permit in some cases if they can demonstrate a family, work, or health hardship. For more information, see "Getting a Junior Permit in California" below.


Time for Behind-the-Wheel Practice

After you've obtained your provisional license, it's time to put your lessons into practice and begin honing your driving skills. Do you know how much practice time you'll need? Here's how it works:

You must do the following with your new California learner's permit:

  • Drive for at least 50 hours under the supervision of a licensed driver over the age of 25.
  • Make sure that at least 10 of these 50 hours are spent driving at night.
  • You must also complete 6 hours of driver training with a professional instructor.

Getting Your CA Provisional License

You can take your road test and apply for your intermediate driver's license, known as a provisional license, after you've held your learner's permit for at least 6 months, are at least 16 years old, and have completed your 50 hours of supervised driving practice.

Obtaining Your Provisional License

After passing your DMV road test, you'll turn in your paperwork to obtain your provisional driver's license. What you'll need to do is as follows:

  • Please submit your: Provisional permit.
  • Your parent or guardian must sign off on a log of your behind-the-wheel practice.
  • Proof that you have completed your professional driver's training course.
  • Receipt from your road test indicating that you passed.
  • Smile for your driver's license photo.
  • If you choose, provide any documents required to upgrade to a REAL ID license.

You can drive without supervision once you have your provisional license. However, there are some ground rules you must follow for the first 12 months:

  • There will be no driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • No passengers under the age of 20 in your car unless accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 25.

The only exceptions to these rules are if you need to travel for:

  • A medical emergency or an immediate family need.
  • School or work-related obligations.
  • For work purposes.

When you reach the age of 18, these restrictions on your California provisional license will be lifted, and you will have a full, unrestricted California driver's license.


Just Moved to California and Already Completed Driver's Ed Elsewhere?

If you're new to California but have already completed a Driver's Ed course in another state, keep in mind that an out-of-state learner's permit cannot be used as proof of course completion. Instead, the DMV in California will accept one of the following:

  • Your out-of-state high school's completed "Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools" form (DL 33). To obtain this form, call (800) 777-0133 or visit your local DMV office.
  • A letter on school letterhead from your out-of-state high school, signed by a school official. The letter should confirm that you completed a course equivalent to Driver's Ed in California, as defined in Section 10020 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.

Getting a Junior Permit in California

Some California teenagers may be eligible for a Junior Permit. This permit is intended for those who:

  • Are 14 years old but under the age of 18.
  • Can show a necessary hardship requiring them to drive alone due to family illness, school, work, or a family business.

If you need to apply for a Junior Permit, follow these steps:

  • Fill out an application for a driver's license or identification card.
  • Fill out the Junior Permit Application (Form DL 120).

Remember that depending on the nature of your hardship, the form may require signatures from your parent/guardian, as well as your school principal or employer.




Author

David Armento

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DMV Appointment in California

Appointment information

Most DMV services can be completed without an appointment.

You can, however, schedule a Behind-the-Wheel Drive Test

Appointments for select driver’s license transactions are only available after an application has been submitted. Use the “Get in Line” service when available for same day visits:

Schedule your DMV appointment in California

Depends on the service: Appointment is needed for some services.

Most DMV services can be completed without an appointment.

You can, however, schedule a Behind-the-Wheel Drive Test

Appointments for select driver’s license transactions are only available after an application has been submitted. Use the “Get in Line” service when available for same day visits:

Schedule your DMV appointment in California

Depends on the service: Appointment is needed for some services.

Most DMV services can be completed without an appointment.

You can, however, schedule a Behind-the-Wheel Drive Test

Appointments for select driver’s license transactions are only available after an application has been submitted. Use the “Get in Line” service when available for same day visits:

Schedule your DMV appointment in California


DMV Hours in California

Today, being Tuesday, California DMV offices open at different hours, starting from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Opening hours:

  • 4 offices at California open today at 7 a.m.
  • 170 offices at California open today at 8 a.m.

However, take into consideration that one office is closed today.

We recommend selecting your county from the list below to find your closest office hours.

Today, being Tuesday, California DMV offices close at different hours, starting from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Closing hours:

  • 4 offices at California close today at 4 p.m.
  • 170 offices at California close today at 5 p.m.

We recommend selecting your county from the list below to find your closest office hours.

Tomorrow, being Wednesday, California DMV offices will open at different times, starting from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Opening hours:

  • 4 offices at California open tomorrow at 8 a.m.
  • 170 offices at California open tomorrow at 9 a.m.

However, take into consideration that one office will be closed tomorrow.

We recommend selecting your county from the list below to find your closest office hours.

Remember that tomorrow is Pioneer Day. We recommend searching your nearest DMV office to obtain information about holiday's closures.

No, the California DMV doesn't open on weekends.

No, the California DMV doesn't open on Saturday.

No, the California DMV doesn't open on Sunday.


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DMV Handbooks in California

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Driver's License

California Driver’s Handbook (English).

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