Driving School

Driver Education 2

A driving school is any business that offers motor vehicle instruction in exchange for compensation.

A driving school is made up of:

Driving school owner: The driving school owner must be licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to own a school offering motor vehicle instruction.

Apply for a driving school owner license

Driving school operator: Either the owner or an employee who is designated by the owner to direct and manage the school.

Apply for a driving school operator license

Driving school instructor: An employee of the school who is licensed by DMV to instruct others in motor vehicle operation.

Apply for a driving school instructor license

In cities with a population of less than 50,000 people and no licensed driving school, DMV can license independent driving instructors to teach others how to operate a motor vehicle. The city must be located in a county with a population of less than 400,000 and the instructor must be employed as an accredited teacher of automobile driver education or automobile driver training under the provisions of the Education Code and California Vehicle Code (CVC) ยง11105.5.

Apply for an independent instructor license

How to Apply for Authorization to Issue Student Licenses

A driving school needs to have DMV authorization to issue student licenses. To apply for authorization, submit an Application For Authorization To Issue Student License (OL 804) and pay the applicable fees (a book of 25 student licenses costs $50).

Applicants must:

  • Be the driving school owner or an employee of the school designated by the owner to operate the school.
  • Have a vision screening device.
  • Have at least one designated employee trained to conduct vision screening.


The following are exempt from driving school licensing requirements:

  • Public schools or educational institutions in which driving instruction is part of the curriculum.
  • Nonprofit public service organizations offering instruction without a tuition fee.
  • Nonprofit organizations engaged exclusively in giving off-highway instruction in the operation of motorcycles, if the course of instruction is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is not designed to prepare students for examination by DMV for an M1/M2 driver license (DL).
  • Commercial schools giving only off-highway instruction in the operation of special construction equipment.
  • Vehicle dealers or their salespeople giving instruction without charge to purchasers of motor vehicles.
  • Employers giving instruction to their employees.
  • Commercial schools engaged exclusively in giving off-the-highway instruction in the operation of racing vehicles or in advanced driving skills to persons holding valid DLs, except whenever such instruction is given to persons who are being prepared for examination by DMV for any class of DL.

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