CA New Driver’s License

Getting a new driver’s license in the state of California is required if you are just moving to the state from being licensed in another state, or if you are just starting out as a new driver in the state of California, never before licensed anywhere. However, a road exam is only required for drivers that have never been licensed, allowing out-of-state drivers to switch their license over much easier. If you are a new driver to California, let 4dmv.com bring you the information you need that will ensure you are able to get your new California license quickly and efficiently.

Determine What License You Need

There are different licenses offered in California, each offering different privileges to the driver. Whether a first time driver in California or an out-of-state driver moving to California, your first step is determining the type of license you need and what each allows you to do on California roadways.

Class C License

With a Class C license, you are given the basic California driving privileges, which include:

  • Passenger car or truck operation
  • Car, pickup, and SUV operation
  • Operation of RV under 40’ length
  • Private-use vehicle operation

Class M1 and M2 License

Motorcycle drivers are provided with a Class M1 or M2 license, providing different privileges for operation of motorized bikes and motorcycles. This type of license follows very similar procedures as that of the Class C license, from the application to the application process, and even testing.

Noncommercial Class A or B License

Drivers with a noncommercial Class A license are able to operate any vehicle covered under the Class C license privileges, as well as:

  • Towing travel trailer 10,000lbs GVWR or less not for hire
  • Towing 5th wheel trailer 15,000lbs GVWR or less not for hire
  • Towing livestock trailer as farmer no more than 150 miles from farm with 10,000 to 15,000lb GVWR not for hire

Drivers with a noncommercial Class B license are also able to operate any vehicle covered under the Class C license privileges, as well as:

  • Operating RV or mobile home operation between 40’ and 45’
  • Towing single vehicles with GVWR 10,000 or under, weight including any tow dolly used

Commercial Class A or B License

Commercial drivers are able to utilize all vehicles covered in all licenses, not for hire or for hire. There are different application requirements, as well as documents required to obtain a CDL in the state of California, which does permit you to operate the broadest range of vehicles, including commercial vehicles.

Driver’s Education

For all California new drivers under the age of 18, driver’s ed is a state requirement in order to obtain a new license. Drivers over the age of 18 are not required by California state law to complete driver’s ed testing before obtaining a first-time California driver’s license, but can get great practice and training from the courses offered. If you feel that you need a bit of practice, these courses are the best choice.

Studying for Your Exams

California driver’s exams should be studied for in order to ensure that you are able to fully understand what you will encounter as a driver and during the test. There are different handbooks offered for the various types of drivers to ensure that you are able to find all the information you need about becoming a California driver so you can be much wiser as you get behind the wheel.

California Driver Handbook

Commercial and Noncommercial Driver Handbook

Class M Motorcycle Handbook

Behind-the-Wheel Exam

Completing the written exam is only required before you obtain your learner’s permit. Once you have your learner’s permit, you must practice for the driver’s test by getting the practice hours required by the state. This will ensure that you are able to navigate the California roadways with the proper skill and techniques. Taking the California road test is only possible with a scheduled appointment, which you can do online at Appointment System; you may also call the California DMV at 1-800-777-0133 to schedule the test up to 45 days early.

  • Complete and submit form DL 44 or DL 44C for commercial licensing
  • Provide proof of birthdate and residence in California; if you don’t know what applies, please see the California DMV list of acceptable documents 
  • Provide Social Security # and full name first and last
  • You will then provide a thumb print, have your picture taken, and complete the vision test
  • Pay $31 California License Application fee

If all else is done successfully, you will then proceed to your driving exam, which will last approximately 20 to 30 minutes and consist of commonly used driving techniques and maneuvers.

If you are applying for a noncommercial Class A or B license, you will also have to submit a health questionnaire, form DL 546 for Class A and health questionnaire, form DL 546A for Class B.

If you are applying for a commercial license A or B, you will also have to complete the 10 Year History record Check, DMV form DL 939, which can be downloaded online. This is only required if you have had a commercial license in another state under yours or a different last name. Costs of a commercial license are $66 with noncommercial A or B licensing fees $39.

Vehicle Requirements

In order to complete your California driving test, you will need your own California registered and insured vehicle. You must provide proof of financial responsibility as well to ensure that you are able to pay for any costs you incur on the roadways in terms of accidents or property damage, including injuries and death. Visit the online insurance center at 4dmv.com in order to learn more about insurance requirements in the state of California.


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