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California Driver Handbook - Obtaining A Driver License

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California Driver Handbook - Obtaining a Driver License

Adults’ Permit Requirements

If you are at least 18 years old, meet the application requirements, and pass the required tests, you may be issued a California instruction permit.

You must have an instruction permit while learning to drive. Your accompanying driver must be 18 years old or older and have a valid California DL. This person must be seated close enough to you that they are able to take control of the vehicle at any time. An instruction permit does not permit you to drive alone–not even to a DMV field office to take the driving test.

If you want to obtain professional driver education and training, refer to the “Driving Schools” and “Mature Driver Program” sections.

If you have a motorcycle permit, you cannot carry passengers, you must ride during daylight hours only, and you cannot ride on the freeway.

To get a motorcycle permit you must:

  • Complete the application requirements.
  • Submit a certificate of completion of the Motorcycle Training (DL 389) form if under 21 years old.
  • Pass a knowledge test.

Adults’ Driver License Requirements

If you are at least 18 years old and have never been licensed, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Comply with the requirements for a driving permit.
  • When you are ready, make an appointment to take the behind-the-wheel driving test.
  • When you report for the driving test, bring your instruction permit with you.
  • Pass the behind-the-wheel driving test. If you fail the test, you must pay a retest fee for a second or subsequent test and schedule a behind-the-wheel driving test for another day.

If you have an out-of-state DL, you must:

  • Complete all the steps required for an instruction permit.
  • Bring your valid out-of-state DL to DMV. Your out-of-state DL will be invalidated and returned to you unless you are applying for a commercial DL (CDL).

Note: The behind-the-wheel driving test for holders of out-of-state or U.S. territory DLs are normally waived. However, DMV may require a behind-the-wheel driving test for any type of DL application. Behind-the-wheel driving tests are mandatory for out-of-country DL holders.

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