California Driver’s Handbook

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Section 9 of 28

Special Section – Minors

Minors’ Permit Requirements

A minor is a person under 18 years old. Minors must have their applications (for a DL or any change of DL class) signed by their parent(s) or legal guardian(s). If both parents/guardians have joint custody, both must sign.

Note: Minors may not work as a driver for pay and they may not drive a school bus containing pupils.

To get a permit you must:

  • Be at least 15½ years old.
  • Complete the Driver License & ID Card Application (DL 44/eDL 44) form.
  • Have your parent(s) or guardian(s) sign the application.

You can fill out the Driver License & ID Card Application online, and your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) can sign the form electronically.

  • Pass the knowledge test. If you fail the test, you must wait 7 days (1 week), not including the day the test was failed, before retaking the test.
  • If you are 15½–17½ years old, you will need to provide proof that you:
    • Completed driver education (Certificate of Completion of Driver Education) OR
    • Are enrolled and participating in an approved integrated driver education/driver training program (Certificate of Enrollment in an Integrated [Classroom] Driver Education and Driver Training Program). For more information, refer to the Provisional Licensing (FFDL 19) Fast Facts brochure.

The provisional permit is not valid until you start your behind-the-wheel driver training with an instructor or reach 17½ years old. If you have a permit and plan to drive outside of California, check licensing requirements in that state or country.

If you are at least 17½ years old, you may obtain a permit without completing driver education or driver training. However, you cannot get a DL before you are 18 years old.

Minors’ Permit Restrictions

Your permit is not valid until you begin driver training; your instructor will sign the permit to validate it. You must practice with a licensed California driver: parent, guardian, driving instructor, spouse, or adult 25 years old or older. The person must sit close enough to you to take control of the vehicle at any time. A provisional permit does not allow you to drive alone at any time, not even to a DMV field office to take a driving test.

Minors’ Driver License Requirements

You must:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Prove that you have completed both driver education and driver training.
  • Have had a California instruction permit or an instruction permit from another state for at least 6 months (refer to the Out-of-State Minors section below).
  • Provide parent(s) or guardian(s) signature(s) on your instruction permit certifying that you have completed 50 hours of supervised driving practice (10 hours must be night driving) as outlined in the California Parent-Teen Training Guide (DL 603). Visit the teen website at or call 1-800-777-0133 to request this booklet.
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee

The fee is good for 12 months. If all requirements are not met within 12 months, the application is no longer valid and you must reapply.

  • Pass each of the required knowledge tests. If you fail the knowledge test 3 times, the application is no longer valid and you must reapply.
  • Pass the driving test (within 3 attempts).

If you fail the driving test, you must pay a retest fee, schedule a subsequent test, and wait 14 days (2 weeks), not including the day the test was failed before you are retested. If you fail the driving test 3 times, the application is no longer valid and you must reapply.

Once you have your provisional DL, you may drive alone, as long as you do not have any collisions or traffic violations on your driving record. During the first 12 months after you are licensed, you cannot drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and cannot transport passengers under 20 years old, unless accompanied by a California-licensed parent or guardian, a California-licensed driver 25 years old or older, or a licensed or certified driving instructor.

When you become 18 years old, the “provisional” part of your DL ends. You may keep your provisional photo DL or pay a fee for a duplicate DL without the word “provisional.”

Exceptions – Minors’ Driver License Restrictions

The law allows the following exceptions when reasonable transportation is not available and it is necessary to drive. A signed note explaining the necessity to drive and the date when this driving necessity will end must be kept in your possession for the following exceptions (emancipated minors are excluded from this requirement):

  • Medical necessity to drive when reasonable transportation alternatives are inadequate. The note must be signed by a physician with the diagnosis and probable date of recovery.
  • Schooling or school-authorized activity. The note must be signed by the school principal, dean, or designee.
  • Employment necessity and the need to operate a vehicle as part of your employment. The note must be signed by the employer verifying employment.
  • The necessity to drive an immediate family member. A note signed by your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) is required, stating the reason and probable end date of the necessity to drive the immediate family member.

Exception: These requirements do not apply to an emancipated minor. Emancipated minors must provide DMV with court documents showing that the court has granted a petition for emancipation and provide a California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR 22/SR 1P) form in lieu of their parent(s) or guarantor(s) signature(s). Emancipated minors are not exempt from the integrated driver education and driver training program requirements.

Out-Of-State Minors’

All out-of-state minor applicants must comply with the application requirements outlined in the “Application Requirements for a Basic Class C Driver License” section and must have parent(s) and/or legal guardian(s) signature on the Driver License & ID Card Application (DL 44/eDL 44) form.

Out-Of-State Minors’ Permit

Out-of-state minors’ permit applicants must meet the requirements listed in the “Minors’ Permit Requirements” section on page 12. In addition, if your driver education and driver training courses were taken in a state other than California, DMV may accept a To Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools (DL 33) form completed by the out-of-state secondary school. You may obtain a DL 33 at your local DMV field office or by calling DMV at 1-800-777-0133. Send the DL 33 to your out-of-state secondary school and ask them to complete and return it to you.

Out-Of-State Minors’ Driver License

You will be asked to present your out-of-state DL and pass a knowledge test as part of the application process. The behind-the-wheel driving test for holders of out-of-state DLs are normally waived. However, DMV may require a behind-the-wheel driving test for any type of DL application.

Out-of-state minor applicants are subject to all provisional restrictions per California law for the first year of the DL or until they turn 18 years old.

Actions Against The Provisional Driver License

Teenagers as a group average twice as many collisions as adult drivers, while driving only half as many miles. The teenage collision rate per mile is 4 times greater than the adult driver collision rate per mile. Traffic deaths of new drivers are deadly combinations of their inexperience driving, lack of familiarity with the vehicle, and their need to push themselves and the vehicle to the limit.

Keeping Your Provisional Driver License

DMV will track your driving record and take actions based upon any collisions or violations as follows:

  • If you get a traffic ticket and fail to appear in court, DMV will suspend your driving privilege until you appear in court.
  • If you have 1 “at fault” collision or conviction of a traffic law violation within 12 months, DMV will send you a warning letter.
  • If you have 2 “at fault” collisions or convictions (or combination of both) of a traffic law violation within 12 months, you cannot drive for 30 days, unless accompanied by your licensed parent or other licensed adult who is at least 25 years old.
  • If you have 3 “at fault” collisions or convictions (or any combination) of a traffic law violation within 12 months, you will be suspended for 6 months and placed on probation for 1 year.
  • If you have 4 or more “at fault” collisions or point count convictions of traffic law violations while on probation, you will be suspended again (traffic law violations resolved in juvenile court are also reported to DMV).
  • If you are convicted of using alcohol or a controlled substance and you are between 13 to 21 years old, the court orders DMV to suspend your DL for 1 year. If you do not have a DL, the court orders DMV to delay your eligibility to apply for a DL. You may also be required to complete a DUI program.

Any restriction, suspension, or probation will continue for its full term past your 18th birthday. Other, stronger actions may be taken if your driving record justifies them. Remember, if your driving privilege has been suspended or revoked, you may not drive in California.

Minors and Cell Phones

  • It is against the law for a minor to use a cell phone or electronic wireless communications device while driving. Do not answer calls or send/ respond to text messages.
  • Convictions for violations of this law are subject to fines.

Exceptions: You may use a cell phone only to contact law enforcement, a health care provider, the fire department, or another emergency entity in an emergency situation when driving.