• New Drivers Under 18

CA New Drivers - Under 18

Teens make up the largest number of new California driver’s licenses in the state. There are age requirements for new California drivers under 18, which dictate the level of license they are able to receive. Getting a permit isn’t always required; however, for drivers just beginning under the age of 17 and 6 months, a driver permit must first be established. Getting a new license has several requirements which must first be met before a teen is able to get behind the wheel, which is a safeguard to protect them and other drivers on the road.

Age Requirements for California Teen Drivers

At the age of 15 ½, teens are eligible to take the written exam and apply for a learner’s permit. The California learner’s permit must be held for a minimum total of 6 months, or until the teen turns 18 years old, whichever occurs first. Under the age of 17 ½ years old, new drivers must first complete driver’s ed courses before a permit is allowed. After the provisional permit has been obtained, drivers under 17 and 6 months must also complete driver’s training before a driver’s license will be granted.

·    New California teen drivers between the age of 17 ½ and 18 are not required to complete driver’s ed or driver’s training courses before a provisional or standard license is obtained. These drivers are more apt to comprehend traffic rules and safety laws much more adequately to avoid these classes. This means that these drivers are going to obtain their license in much less time, with fewer requirements.

·    Any first-time driver over the age of 18 can skip both courses and the provisional permit as well, eligible to obtain a driver’s license with the completion of the driver’s exam and driver’s license application.

Graduated License Program

The state of California passed the Graduated Driver’s License law during 1997, in an effort to reduce the incidence of teen driving accidents, which could cause injury or death. This law states specific requirements for new drivers between the ages of 15 ½ and 17 ½:

·    Successful completion of California driver’s education course

·    Possession of provisional permit at least 6 months

·    Completion of 6 hours driver training from professional

·    Completion of a minimum of 50 hours practice with adult driver 25 or older

·    Application for California driver’s permit

Driver’s Ed Training

When obtaining Driver’s Ed training within the state of California, you are able to choose between utilizing a course approved by the state from a third party source near you or by your high school.

If you are new to the state and have a provisional license in that other state, it will not serve as sufficient verification of your completed Driver’s Ed course in that other state. Instead, you must provide the California DMV with one of two documents:

·    Form DL 33 completed by out-of-state secondary school. This form must be an original and can be obtained by calling the DMV toll-free at 1-800-777-0133 or by picking it up at a local DMV office.

·    Statement signed by out-of-state school official printed on that school’s stationary, declaring your completion of Driver’s Ed course equivalent to the course described in the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 10020.

California Driver Preparation Courses

Find a local driver preparation course that can help you learn the driving skills you will be most in need of as you become a California driver. State specific and offering the most comprehensive information for driving in the state, you will be able to learn as you drive and gain the instructional hours you are required or would benefit most from in the state of California.

Getting a Provisional/Learner’s Permit

While there is no requirement past the age of 17 ½ to obtain your California provisional, or learner’s, permit, it is suggested for all first time drivers no matter how old you are. The permit provides you with the needed practice on the road, while restricting your privileges in order to ensure the safety of others. Over the age of 18, you will no longer need the driver permit to obtain your license, but without it you are losing quality practice that could be quite beneficial while taking your behind-the-wheel exam.

All first-time California drivers between the ages of 15 ½ and 17 ½ must first obtain a provisional license before they are eligible to move forward towards their driver’s license.

·    Get the practice you need before you get started as the test can be quite challenging. For sample tests offered by the California DMV, you can visit  Samples of Driver Tests

·    Complete appropriate Driver’s Ed course and bring the certificate of completion with you.

·    Schedule your California DMV appointment online at Appointment System or by phone, 1-800-777-0133. Without an appointment, you will likely be in the DMV for quite some time waiting to be seen.

·    Complete and submit DL 44, California Driver’s License or Identification Card Application. No copies are accepted due to the need for an individual and unique barcode on the application.

·    New-drivers under the age of 18 must have application signed by parents/guardians, with more information about parent/child liability found online at  Parents’ or guardians’ signatures - accepting liability for a minor 

·    Provide DMV with Social Security number, appropriate documents and exceptions can be found at Social security number (SSN) requirement 

·    Verification of your birthdate, legal citizenship, full name, and legal address is also required, with acceptable documents and exceptions found at Birth date verification and legal presence requirements

·    Any applicant under the age of 18 will be required to also provide the following documents:

o Forms DL 387, DL 388, DL 388A, OL 237, OL 238: Verification of completion of Driver’s Ed and California driving training; or

o Form DL 387 or OL 237: Verification of completion of Driver’s Ed and Form DL 392 or OL 392: Verification of enrollment and/or participation within driver training course; or

o Form DL 400: Verification of enrollment and/or participation in approved and state integrated Driver’s Ed and/or driver training program.

·    Pay application fee of $31; you may only pay with cash, check, ATM/Debit card, or money order—no credit cards will be accepted.

·    Complete written exam, which consists of 46 traffic and safety law questions, including road signs, provide a thumbprint, take your photo, and receive your permit in the mail.

California Driver’s Permit Restrictions

Carrying a California provisional license restricts your driving privileges from that of a standard license. You are never allowed to operate the vehicle without another licensed driver 25 or older while you have a permit.

You must be accompanied by a licensed driver, who could be your parent or guardian, spouse, or other adult who is 25 or older, able to remain a passenger as you drive. Without this driver in the vehicle, you are not allowed to operate the vehicle at all. You may only operate the vehicle at night with another licensed driver 25 or older for the 10 practice hours required, and no passengers under the age of 12 are permitted to ride as passengers if you are behind the wheel.

Practicing with Your Permit

The purpose of obtaining a provisional license in California is to practice driving behind the wheel before you actually have full power behind the wheel. The restrictions are there to ensure that you aren’t able to present a great risk to yourself, your passengers, and others on the road, while practice hours are intended to give you some play behind the wheel so you can get the real feel of the various maneuvers and rules that you will encounter.

·    Each hour that you are supervised driving is another hour added to your permit, giving you the needed hours to obtain your license. There are 50 total hours required, 10 of which must be driven during the night in order to give you the needed practice of realistic driving conditions.

·    There must be six total hours completed behind the wheel practice with a professional driving instructor during a complete training program.

·    If you are 18 or older, you will not require these practice hours if you hold a provisional license, as you are not required to hold the provisional license at all if you feel prepared enough to obtain your driver’s license.

Applying for Your Driver’s License

There are specific requirements in the state of California that you must meet before you are eligible to obtain your California driver’s license:

·    Must be at least 16.

·    Must have had permit for at least 6 months or are 18 or over.

·    Must have completed Driver’s Ed with 6 hours instructional training from professional if under age of 17 ½.

·    Must have accumulated required 50 hours practice driving with at least 10 at night with licensed adult 25 or over.

If you meet these requirements you can move forward to take your road test and obtain your driver’s license for the first time.

·    In order to take your road test for your first-time driver’s license in California, you will require proof of financial responsibility, which can be obtained in a number of ways, including a cash bond or more commonly, state-minimum required liability insurance.

·    Make your road test appointment online at Appointment System as you will not be seen for this test without an appointment. You can also call for an appointment toll-free at 1-800-777-0133. You must have all the necessary documentation and applications in order to complete the process.

Note: If you happen to fail the test the first time, you are able to re-test. Just remember that there are many resources out there from handbooks to brochures and training courses to ensure you get the practice you need.

Interim Driver’s License

If you have passed your driving test, you will obtain an interim license valid for 90 days while you wait for your driver’s license to arrive in the mail. If it hasn’t arrived within 60 days, however, you will want to call the DMV at 1-800-777-0133 to ensure that the correct address is on file and to check the status of your license.

Provisional License

Your provisional license is going to restrict your privileges until you turn 18, or 12 months, whichever occurs first. You will not be permitted to have passengers under the age of 20 in the vehicle or drive during night hours between 11pm and 5am. Your license will notate that you are a provisional driver, alerting law enforcement if you happen to be caught violating these restrictions.

·    To find out what restrictions apply, you may visit  Provisional Driver License Restrictions during the First Year 

·    Once you have held this license for 12 months or have turned 18, you will be relieved of these restrictions, permitted to operate your vehicle as a standard driver.


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