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FAQ California

How do I get my first driver’s license in California if I’m over 18?

If you are over 18 years old and are applying for your first driver’s license in California, you will need to do the following:

How do I take the driving test in California?

To take the driving test you will need to do the following:

  • Schedule an appointment
  • Provide a proof of financial responsibility
  • Provide a proof that your vehicle is properly insured

Who is required to take the driving test in California?

You will be required to take the driving test if you have for one of the below:

  • never been licensed in any state or you hold a foreign country license.
  • a vision-related problem.
  • a limited term license for specified physical and mental (P&M) conditions.
  • a physical condition (except corrective lenses) and DMV imposes a restriction, or if you are currently restricted and you request that the restriction be removed.
  • an out-of-state junior, provisional, or probationary license.
  • been licensed out-of-state but do not have the license to surrender.

Does everyone take the same driving exam in California?

Adult and teenage drivers are taking the same driving tests. However, a driver with a physical and/or mental condition may take a different version of the driving test containing additional test elements.

What will be on my knowledge exam in California?

The knowledge exam is covering traffic laws and traffic signs areas. It contains 46 questions with multiple-choice answers. You will need to answer 38 questions correctly to pass the test (83%).

What can I expect on my driving exam in California?

The driving exam will last about 20 minutes. During the exam you will be tested on basic maneuvers such as left and right turns, stops at controlled and uncontrolled intersections, straight line backing, lane changes, driving in regular street traffic, and in some cases driving on the freeway.

What vehicle can I use for my driving exam in California?

Before you can take the driving exam, the officer you inspect your vehicle. Your vehicle will have to have the following to pass the examination:

  • two license plates. The rear plate must show current registration.
  • both front and back turn signal lights and working brake lights.
  • a working horn designed for the vehicle.
  • tires with no bald spots.
  • adequate brake pressure (you will be asked to step on the brake pedal to see if it works properly).
  • a driver’s side window that rolls down.
  • a windshield that allows a full unobstructed field of vision.
  • two rear view mirrors (one must be on the outside, to the driver’s left).
  • driver and front passenger doors that open from both the inside and outside.
  • a secured glove compartment door so it doesn’t open during the test.
  • a passenger seat permanently attached to the vehicle.
  • working safety belts, if the vehicle was manufactured with safety belts.
  • working emergency/parking brake.

What if I fail the driving test in California?

You have three chances to pass the driving test. If you fail, you may practice for a while, then make another appointment. There is no waiting period, but you must make an appointment. If you fail to successfully complete the driving test on the first attempt, you must pay a $6 fee for each additional driving test that is administered under an application for an original or renewal driver license.

However, if you are under 18 and fail the driving test, you will have to wait at least two weeks before you can take another driving test.

Can I take the knowledge exam in other than English language when applying for driver’s license in California?

You can take the basic Class C written driver license exam in other languages besides English. The exam is available in Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Persian/Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino, Thai, Tongan, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

Can I use a translator to take the knowledge and driving exams when applying for driver’s license in California?

If you need an interpreter to take your knowledge exam The Department of Motor Vehicles will provide you one at no cost to you. You will need to call 1-800-777-0133 and indicate that you will require foreign language assistance.

What is a learner’s permit?

A learner’s permit is a restricted license that is given to a person who is learning to drive, but has not yet satisfied the requirement to obtain a driver’s license. Having a driver’s permit for a certain length of time is usually one of the requirements (along with driver’s education and a road test) for applying for a full driver’s license. To get a learner’s permit, one must typically pass a written permit test, traffic, and rules of the road.

How do I get a learner’s permit if I am over 18?

You will be issued a learner’s permit after you take and pass the vision and knowledge exams. You must bring the learner’s permit to your driving exam.

Am I required to take a Driver Education course if I’m over 18?

You are only required to take a Driver’s Education course if you are under 17 ½ years old. If you are over 17 ½ but under 18 years of age, you may get your permit without the driver education and driver training certificates however, you will not be able to take the driving test until you turn 18.

How old do I need to be to apply for a learner’s permit in California?

You must be at least 15 years old to apply for a learner’s permit in California.

How do I get my first driver’s license in California if I’m under 18?

If you are under 18 years old and are applying for your first driver’s license in California, you will need to do the following:

  • Be at least 15 ½, but under 18 years of age
  • Make an appointment before visiting a DMV office (walk-ins are only accepted at our Driver License Processing Centers).
  • Complete the application form DL 44 (An original DL 44 form must be submitted. Copies obtained by xeroxing, faxing, or other methods will not be accepted.)
  • Have your parents’ or guardians’ signatures on the application form DL 44
  • Provide your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • “Provide your true full name if your name no longer matches the name on your birth date legal presence document.”
  • Verify your birth date and legal presence
  • Submit the proper form(s) for driver education and/or driver training classes.
  • Give a fingerprint
  • Pay the application fee
  • Pass a vision exam
  • Give your fingerprint again, provide your signature (that will appear on the driver license), and have your picture taken.
  • Pass a traffic laws and sign test.

What if I fail the knowledge exam in California?

You will have 3 tries to pass your knowledge exams for the price of one. If you fail all three attempts, you will have to schedule an other appointment and pay a fee. However, if you are under 18 and fail the knowledge exam in California, you will have to wait 7 days before you can retake it. You will also have to pay the re-take fee.

What are the Driver’s license fees in California?

You can click here to learn about the Driver’s license fees in California.

Can I drive in California if I have a driver’s license from another country?

You can drive in California using your out of country valid driver’s license. However, if you wish to obtain a California driver’s license, you will need to complete all the steps as the first time driver.
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