The California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) is responsible for licensing the drivers of California, registration & title, investigating complaints, and maintaining records. The CA DMV collects over $6.5B annually in revenues. The driver license section of the CA DMV offers a wealth of resources, from FAQs to manuals to written practice tests. You can also use the CA DMV website to schedule an appointment and find driver test locations.
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New California Driver’s License
Who needs a license?
There are several types of people that require a new driver’s license. Each type of new license has a different process and will require some addition proofs unique to that specific type, so be sure you understand what you are using your license for and the differences before placing an application with the California DMV. Under the age of 18, you can receive a new driver’s license or a motorcycle or moped license. New residents or drivers over 18 will apply for the standard Class C license while those wishing to drive for a living need a CDL.
Which license is for you?
For regular driver’s class C licenses you need a Provisional Driver’s License and over 18 or new residents need a standard Class C license.
What are the requirements for getting a license?
For drivers under the age of 18, there are special requirements in addition to regular license procedures. In general all people applying for a new license must provide proof of identity, citizenship and residency. Other requirements include meeting the age limits for your particular type of license and paying the required fees.
What tests do I need to take to get a license?
The California drivers test is broken down into three main parts which are the vision test, written skills test and the driving test. You will have three chances to pass the written test before you will have to repeat the process again and retake driver’s education.
Taking a Drivers Education course
Each state’s age requirements differ but in California you must take Driver’s training if you are under the age of 18 and applying for your first license. This includes new minor residents even if they have a license in another state. You must be at least 15 ½ years old to register for a driver’s school.
Preparing for the written test
All of the multiple choice questions you will find on your written test come from the California Driver’s Handbook so the first step is to either download the PDF version from the DMV website or pick up a copy at the local branch office. There is addition training on the DMV website called California Teens Treasure Hunt which gives valuable information in the form of an interactive game. Other great resources include learning sheets and practice tests from websites such as http://www.dmvcheatsheets.com. Take as many practice tests as possible and study hard to prepare for the test as you are only allowed three tries.
Scheduling an appointment
You can schedule an appointment I advance for your behind the wheel driver’s test or an office appointment to take the written exam and register your application.
What to bring on test day
You need to bring your required proofs and certificate of completion for driver’s education if you are under 18. In addition you must bring glasses or contacts if you are required to wear them while driving and an appropriate payment method for all testing fees.
Proof of Insurance
In order to take the behind the wheel test, you must provide proof of liability for the vehicle you will be using to test. If you are using your own car the insurance must be in your name and if using a parent or guardians vehicle you must be listed as a secondary driver in order to test.
Taking the drivers test
Before taking the test, use the safe driver’s checklist to assure you are ready to begin. The Safe driver’s checklist is an outline of all the aspects of driving you will be tested on so be sure to utilize this great tool. Another great source for preparation is the California Parent-teen Driver’s guide that will assist you in preparing fully for the driver’s test. During the test no passengers are allowed. Ask all questions you wish to the examiner before the test begins as he will only give directions once the test has begun.
Taking the written test
The written test consists of 36 multiple choice questions based on the California Driver’s Handbook. You may only take the written test three times and many people fail the first try do to a lack of preparation. Be sure to use the handbook and other great resources including:
- The interactive driver’s license knowledge review provided by the DMV
- learning sheets and practice tests offered by http://www.dmvcheatsheets.com
Renewing your California Driver’s License
Who needs to renew their license?
Anyone wishing to continue operating a motorized vehicle including cars, trucks, motorcycles and mopeds must renew their license at the determined date of renewal.
How do I renew my California license?
You can renew your license by visiting your local DMV branch office and bringing the required documents and fees, or schedule an appointment to make the process faster. In addition you can renew by mail when you receive your renewal notice by returning the application attached to the letter along with a check for the fees. Or you may renew online.
Steps to renew your license
First double check the expiration date of your license which can be found directly below your birth-date on the license. If it is time to renew, bring your current license along with the renew letter if you have received it to the DMV, or begin the process of renew online. If there are no changes to your personal information and you are over 18, simply fill out the application, pay the fee and await your new license to arrive in the mail.
What tests do I need to take to renew?
Unless otherwise instructed by an examiner at the DMV office the only test you will need to take to renew your license is the vision exam.
What does it cost to renew my license?
The standard fee for renewing a Class C driver’s license is 32 dollars. There are no additional fees for renewing by phone, mail or online. If the examiner decides you need to retake the driver’s test, there is an addition 6 dollar fee.
Preparing to renew my California license
Be sure to gather together all your current required proofs, especially if any information has changed including name and address. Have your renewal letter with you when applying in person or over the phone for reference as well. In addition be prepared with a check or approved payment method to pay the 32 dollar fee.
Getting a California Learner’s Permit
Who needs a learners permit?
Any first time drivers under the age of 18 that have always lived in the state of California are required to obtain a drivers permit.
How old do I need to be to get a learner’s permit?
For a driver’s permit or motorcycle or moped driver’s permit, you must be at least 15 ½ years old but under 18 at the time you apply for the permit.
Requirements to getting a learner’s permit
You will need to provide required proofs of age, identity, citizenship and residency at the time of application. You must be at least 15 ½ years old, have a parent or guardians approval for obtaining a license and able to pass a vision exam. In addition you are required to present your certification of successful completion of Driver’s training when applying.
Cost of a California learner’s permit
The cost of a California’s learner’s permit is 32 dollars. This fee will cover up to three exam tests in a 12 month period and both the learner’s permit and driver’s license upon successful completion of the process.
Steps to getting a California learner’s permit
Follow these simple steps to obtaining your learner’s permit:
- Register for an approved driver’s school and complete the course
- Read over the California Driver’s Handbook, use as many learning sheets and practice tests from online sources as possible and be fully prepared to take the learner’s permit test.
- Gather together all the required proofs of identity, citizenship, age and residency necessary for your application.
- Schedule an appointment at the local DMV office to save time and gather all necessary information in a safe place such as a folder.
- You will present your application, required proofs, certificate of complete for Driver’s training and the parent or guardian’s written permission of liability.
- Take the vision exam and pay the learner’s permit fee.
Driving with a California learner’s permit
You must drive with a licensed parent or guardian, grandparent or pre-approved licensed driver over the age of 21 at all time with your learner’s permit. Be sure that you and parent read over the California Parent-teen Driver’s guide including the checklist before you first time out on the roads. Start slowly with residential areas and work your way up to main roads as you feel more comfortable. Be sure to fulfill the driving requirements for the learner’s permit before attempting to begin the testing process for your license including at least 12 hours of driving after dusk.