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California DMV Questions


California DMV - Permit and License Questions

We know you have plenty of questions about CA DMV policies, regulations, and driving requirements. Though the Official CA DMV website should be consulted for the definitive answers, we're happy to provide answers to the questions we frequently get asked about teen driving in California.

Click questions below to see answers.

- California Department of Motor Vehicles Questions | CA DMV FAQ

California DMV - Learner Permit Related FAQs

    15 ½ years old is the minimum age for teens who want to earn a CA DMV permit.

    1. Complete the Electronic Driver License and ID Card application online before visiting a DMV field office. Applicants under the age of 18 must have their applications signed by their parent(s) or legal guardian(s). If both parents/guardians have joint custody, both must sign. The electronic driver license application provides a section for parents to complete. You can also complete the electronic application in a DMV field office using the touch screen terminals. More information on the electronic application is available at

    2. Verification of birth date and proof of California residency. To prove California residency, minors will use his or her birth certificate to 'trace his or her relationship' to a parent with two (2) acceptable residency documents as defined by the CA DMV. For information about acceptable residency documents parents can use, please visit the California Residency Requirement for New Drivers page on the CA DMV website.

    3. Application fee, which changes from time to time. Currently, this fee is roughly $38.

    4. Your California Drivers Education completion certificate DL-400C (we mail this to you after you pass our online course).

    *Note: You will also be required to provide your social security number (or social security card for REAL ID applicants, Learn More), give a thumb print, and pass a vision test before you can take the 46 question written permit exam.

    TAKING YOUR PERMIT TEST: The DMV is not currently offering any appointments for the permit test. However, the DMV has recently created a same day/express service visit option allowing you to bypass the standard waiting lines. Please read about this option here.

    Sorry, we cannot. The California DMV will not accept copies of certificates, faxed or otherwise. They will only accept original documents.

    Your California learner's permit expires 1 year from the day you applied for it at the DMV (not the date of issuance as many people accidentally think).

    No, drivers education pink certificates and drivers training gold certificates do not expire. However, some DMV representatives will not accept them if dated over 1 year. You may request a duplicate certificate from our office if you are providing the DMV with a certificate beyond the 1 year date.

    No, you do not need to take driving lessons before applying for your permit.

    Though we recommend you earn your learner's permit before taking lessons, we do offer special DMV Student Licenses, for a $10.00 fee, that allow us to take students on driving lessons even if they do not yet have a practice permit.

    Before you can practice with your California learner's permit, you must first complete your first 2 hour driving lesson with a DMV licensed driving instructor.

    If you fail your permit test (get more than 8 questions wrong), the CA DMV requires that you wait 7 days (not including the day the test was failed) before you can retake your written permit test. You get 3 chances to take the test, once every 7 days, before you have to start over by submitting a new DMV Electronic Driver License and Identification Card (ID) Application.

    YES! Though our online drivers ed course will thoroughly teach you everything covered in the CA Drivers Handbook, we strongly recommend that you read the handbook in addition to taking our course.

California DMV - Provisional License FAQs

    • DMV Drivers Training Certificate of Completion (DMV Form DL-400D)
    • Provisional Permit that is signed by parent and driving instructor
    • Proof of Insurance for automobile you will use on your drive test
    • Vehicle registration for automobile being used on your drive test
    Also, there may be additional items you need to bring under special circumstances, please consult the DMV for details. Finally, be prepared to pay a 'retest fee' if you are taking the test for a second or third time.

    For the first twelve months of driving with a provisional license, minors have to be accompanied by a licensed driver at least 25 years old or a licensed driving instructor when:
    • Transporting passengers 20 years old or younger at any time of day
    • Driving between 11pm and 5am (basically at night)
    For a more complete and thorough explanation of all provisional restrictions and exceptions, visit our CA DMV Driving Restrictions for Minors page.

    If you are over 18 years old, though not legally required, it is still a smart idea to take some amount of formal drivers training before attempting to obtain your driving license. With this said, Californians over 18 must still pass a multiple choice permit exam as well as an in-car driver's test before earning a CA drivers license. Additionally, an eye test will be given, proper ID must be presented, and other Department of Motor Vehicles applications submitted.

    For a full list of requirements for adults, please consult the official California DMV Website.

    If you are truly ready to become a licensed driver, you should be able to pass the DMV road test regardless of which DMV you take it at. That being said, we typically suggest taking the test at a local DMV where you are most familiar with the streets and traffic in the area. Also, some DMVs are busier than others, so it might save you time and a headache if you go to a CA DMV that has less commotion.

    Regardless of which DMV you ultimately select, all CA DMVs should be using the same set of standards to grade drivers on their in car driving test.

    If you choose our DMV Drive Test Prep lesson, we will schedule your drive test for you, based on what time and location works best for you. Otherwise, you can schedule by going to the Official CA DMV website scheduling center or calling the DMV's scheduling hotline 1-800-777-0133.

    Generally, the CA DMV driving test takes 10-20 minutes. However, each test length will vary based on traffic, time of day, and driving test route.

    • Drive smoothly at all times and put the examiner at ease
    • Don't accelerate and brake abruptly
    • Make complete stops, always behind the limit line or cross walk
    • Stay within the speed limit without going too slow
    • Keep a safe space cushion with other moving vehicles and parked cars
    • Scan the road, do traffic checks, and use your mirrors appropriately
    • Use your turn signals, mirrors, and check your blind spot when changing lanes, making turns, and curbside parking
    • Drive defensively and react to potential hazards with caution
    The California DMV requires that you wait 2 weeks before you can take the driving license test again. You have 3 chances to pass your driving test before you have to begin your application over again. Also, you will be charged a retest fee to take a 2nd or 3rd driving test.

    There are a number of Critical Driving Errors, better known as 'Auto Fails', that a student can receive on their CA DMV driving test. If you commit one Critical Driving Error, you will automatically be disqualified and won't earn your driving license that day. Here are the most common automatic fails:
    • Answering 3 pre-drive questions incorrectly (see next FAQ)
    • Disobeying a sign or signal (running red light, etc.)
    • Speed control (10mph over or under the safe speed limit)
    • Dangerous maneuver (swerving, impeding other driver's progress, etc.)
    • Disobeying traffic safety personnel
    • Lane violation (drifting or lane changing unsafely)
    • Failure to use auxiliary equipment (for example, forgetting to turn on lights and wipers if it was raining)
    • Examiner intervention (verbal warnings or physically having to grab the wheel or use brake)
    Here's what you need to know before for your oral pre-drive drive test at the California DMV:
    • Your hand signals (left, right, stop)
    • Identify the lighting controls
    • Identify the windshield wipers
    • Identify the emergency hazard lights
    • Identify the window defroster
    • Identify the different gears (park, reverse, neutral, drive)
    • Release and set the emergency parking brake
    • Also be ready to honk your horn, apply your brakes, and demonstrate your turn signals
    Not sure where to start? Here's a step by step walk through of what teens need to do in order to earn a California driver license:

    1. Take DMV Approved Drivers Ed: At about age 15 you should begin your DMV Approved Drivers Ed course. When you finish the course, you receive DMV form DL-400C that you will need to take the written CA permit test.

    2. Take a Written Permit Test at a CA DMV: At age 15½ or older, make an appointment online at the DMV, complete an Electronic Driver License and ID Card application (more information on the electronic application is available at, bring the proper DMV documents (see above), pass an eye exam, and pass the written multiple choice traffic law test (you must be at least 15½ to do this). If you succeed you will receive your permit that day!

      TAKING YOUR PERMIT TEST: The DMV is not currently offering any appointments for the permit test. However, the DMV has recently created a same day/express service visit option allowing you to bypass the standard waiting lines. Please read about this option here.

    3. Take Your First Driving Lesson: You are required to take your first driving lesson with a licensed driving instructor before you are legally allowed to practice driving with your learners permit.

    4. Practice Driving for 6 Months: With your permit in hand, you must practice six months with your parent or a licensed driving instructor. Also, before you can take your license test, you must practice driving at least 50 hours, including 10 hours of night driving.

    5. Take Your DMV Driving Test: If you are at least 16 and have completed all of your driver education and driver training requirements, you can make an appointment at the DMV to take your driving license test. See our guide to Passing the CA DMV Driving Test and to improve your chance of success come test day, check out or DMV Drive Test Prep driving lesson!

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