California Driver’s Handbook

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Section 4 of 28

General Information


This handbook provides a summary of the laws and regulations outlined in the California Vehicle Code (CVC). The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), law enforcement, and the courts follow the full and exact language of the CVC. You may view the CVC at or purchase a copy of the CVC book at any DMV field office. The CVC and DMV fees are available online at The fees listed in the California Driver’s Handbook are subject to change.

This handbook is primarily for a basic Class C driver license (DL). For detailed information on other DL types and endorsements refer to the California Commercial Driver HandbookRecreational Vehicles and Trailers Handbook, Ambulance Drivers Handbook, California Parent-Teen Training Guide, and California Motorcycle Handbook.

DMV’s Function and Vision

DMV is a state-level government agency whose two primary functions are to license California drivers and register vehicles within the state. However, DMV also maintains and oversees many other functions.

DMV’s vision is to be a trusted leader in delivering innovative services. This vision is supported by DMV’s mission to proudly serve the public by licensing drivers, registering vehicles, securing identities, and regulating the motor vehicle industry.

Accurate Identification

The reliability, integrity, and confidentiality of all California DL/ID cards are of prime concern to all levels of government, the private sector, and general public.

It is critical that these documents be completely authenticated and accurate. California law requires that all customers who apply for an original California DL/ID card or REAL ID Compliant DL/ID card submit an identity document, social security card, if eligible, and 2 California residency documents. Your true full name as shown on your identity document will appear on your DL/ID card.

Basic Information

A California DL shows that you have been given permission by the state to drive on public roadways. You may apply for a DL at most DMV field offices (refer to this page for DMV field office information). After you complete your application for a DL, pay the application fee, pass all applicable knowledge tests, show that your physical and/or mental condition is satisfactory, and demonstrate your ability to drive safely, a license may be issued and mailed to you. If you have a medical condition or a disability, DMV may require you to take a driving test. You may also have to provide a statement from your physician regarding your current health condition.

It is a misdemeanor to drive in California with an expired DL. If you do, you can be cited, your vehicle may be impounded, and you may have to appear in court.