Getting Your California Driver’s License – Everything You Need to Know

by sem on May 10, 2013

Driver's License Requirements in California

Getting your driver’s license is a rite of passage for most teenagers. For some, it’s more eagerly anticipated than their wedding day. But that little card isn’t as easy to obtain as you might think. According to the California DMV, there’s a lot you must do before you are deemed responsible enough to drive.


If you are between the ages of 15 ½ and 18, you can apply for a “Provisional Permit.” In order to get this, you must do all of the following:

  • Fill out a DL 44 form, and have your parent or guardian sign it.
  • Provide your thumbprint and get your photo taken.
  • Provide your social security number, birth date, and legal name.
  • Provide a Certificate of Completion from a state-approved Driver’s Education course.
  • Pay the application fee.
  • Pass both a vision exam and a traffic laws test.

Having this permit makes it legal for you to drive, so long as there’s a licensed California driver 25 or over sitting shotgun. The reason for this is that the adult must be sitting close enough to take control of the vehicle at any time, should something go wrong. Please note, the provisional permit does not allow you to drive alone—even if you’re driving to the DMV to take your test.

In order to be eligible to take the driving test for your driver’s license, you must:

  • Hold the Provisional Permit for a minimum of 6 months.
  • Complete driver education.
  • Complete 6 hours of professional driver training.
  • Complete 50 hours of practice with an adult 25 years or older (10 hours at night).
  • Provide evidence that your vehicle is properly insured and road-ready.

Once you’ve done all of that, you may contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles to make the appointment!


If you’re already 18, a driver license is significantly easier to obtain. Much like your younger counterparts, you must fill out the DL 44 form, and provide the thumb print, photo, social security number and proof of birth date. You must pay the same application fee and pass the same vision exam, as well. From there, you must pass a written test that’s a little shorter than that for the 15-17 year olds. That much will get you a permit, and from there you may schedule your road test whenever you are ready. You do not need to take any DMV-Approved California Driver Education course, although it’s a very good idea.

It may seem like there are a ridiculous number of hoops to jump through to get such a tiny piece of plastic, but the reward is well worth the journey. In fact, many people opt to hedge their bets and augment their driving education by enrolling in online defensive driving courses. Every little bit helps!

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