California Driver Education
Getting Your Driver License in California
Step 1: Complete a DMV-licensed California Driver Education course
If you're between the ages of 15 ½ and 17 1/2, in order to get your California learner permit/instruction permit and eventually your California driver license, you must complete a DMV-licensed 30-hour California Driver Education course and earn a Certificate of Completion (DL 400C).
Step 2: Study for the California instruction permit test (knowledge test)
To earn the California provisional instruction permit, you must pass a knowledge test on traffic laws and signs. It is estimated that almost 70% of test-takers fail on their first try and end up returning to the DMV.
Practice Makes Permanent! An effective way to increase your chances of passing your knowledge test on the FIRST try is with our California permit practice tests. You can start taking these practice tests as soon as you make your payment.
Step 3: Apply for the California instruction permit
When you're ready to take your written permit test, you must schedule your test appointment at your local DMV location by calling 1-800-777-0133 or going to the California DMV website.
To be eligible for the California instruction permit, you must:
- Be at least 15½ years old, but under 18 years of age.
- Submit a completed application form DL 44-available at the DMV office. A parent or guardian must sign this application if you're under 18.
- Provide true full name.
- Give proof of your birth date (originals or certified copies only). View acceptable documents.
- Provide proof of California residency.
- Provide your Social Security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
- Attend driver education.
- If under 15 ½: Be enrolled in an integrated driver education/driver training.
- If between 15 ½ and 17 ½: Be enrolled in driver education or submit a Certificate of Completion from a DMV-licensed California driver education course.
- If 17 ½: No driver education is required.
- Pay the application fee. This fee entitles you to three exams of any type within the 12-month period and pays for both your provisional instruction permit and your driver license. If all requirements are not met within the 12-month period, the application becomes void and all steps must be completed again.
- Pass a vision exam.
- Have your picture taken.
- Give your thumb print.
- Pass a traffic laws and sign test. There are 46 questions on the test. You'll have to answer at least 39 questions correctly. You have three chances to pass the test. If you fail, you must wait seven days before taking the test again.
Step 4: Practice driving under supervision
Once you have your California provisional instruction permit, you'll need to practice driving under supervision. Please Note: Your permit is not valid until after you have had 1 hour of behind-the-wheel instruction with a licensed instructor.
A parent, guardian, spouse or adult 25 years of age or older, who has a valid California driver license, must be with you at all times when you drive. He or she must sit in a position close enough to take control of the vehicle, if necessary.
To get your license before you turn 18, you'll need to practice driving for at least 6 months before you take the driving test. You must also complete the following:
- Complete 6 hours of driver training with a professional driving school, and
- Complete 50 hours (10 at night) of driving practice with a parent, guardian, or other adult 25 years or older. The adult must have a valid California driver license and certify 50 hours of practice driving. See the Parent-Teen Training Guide.
Step 5: Take the driving test for your California driver license
When you're ready to take the driving test, make an appointment with your local DMV by calling 1-800-777-0133 or visiting the California DMV website.
To take your driving test, you must:
- Be at least 16 years old.
- Have your permit for a minimum of 6 months.
- Have completed a DMV-licensed California driver education course (if you're under 17½).
- Have completed 6 hours of professional driver training (if you're under 17½).
- Have completed 50 hours (including 10 hours of night driving) of driving practice with a licensed adult who is 25 years or older (if you're under 18).
- Show proof of birth date and legal presence using one of the documents listed above in Step 2.
- Show proof of insurance for the vehicle you will be using for your driving test.