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Home / California / Teen Drivers Ed / Driving Age Requirements in California

In many states, there is a graduated driver license program (GDL) that provides teens with different steps and milestones in the driver license process. Many of the stages and milestones that are a part of this program are age-related or experience-related. California is one of the states that has a GDL program for teens. The purpose of this program is to reduce the risks that brand-new drivers face as they get familiar with being behind the wheel of a car. Below, we have listed the different driving age requirements that go along with the GDL system.

Driving Age Requirements in California

Junior permit 

The Junior Permit is for California residents who are at least 14 but less than 18 years of age and can show a present hardship that requires them to drive alone. These hardships can sometimes include:

  • An illness in the family
  • School
  • Work
  • Family business

There are some other steps involved in applying for a Junior Permit. You will need signatures from your parent/guardian, principal, and/or employer as well as a DL 44 and DL 120 form filled out.

Learner's permit 

To apply for a California learner's permit, teens need to be between 15½ and 17½ years of age. If you are younger than 17½ you will have to complete an approved driver's education course that is taught by a state-licensed driver's education school and includes a minimum of 25 hours of instruction.

    Provisional license w/ completed driver's ed course 

    You can apply for a California provisional driver license at the age of 16 if you have completed your driver's ed course. This provisional license will have restrictions, so make sure you know what those are and follow them to the letter.

    Provisional license without driver's ed course 

    If you are 17½ years of age but not yet 18, you can apply for your provisional license without having to take the driver's education course. However, you will still need to get a learner's permit and complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving, 10 of which must be at night. After that, all you need to do to get your provisional license is to study for the written test and pass it. You will also need to pass a vision test. Bring your birth certificate, SS#, a completed DL 44 form, and your parent to sign the paperwork when you go to take the test and you will be able to get your provisional driver license right after you pass the test.

      If you are just getting started with the driving process it may feel like forever before you'll be driving on your own. But don't worry, the time will pass soon enough and you'll be behind the wheel. The GDL process is designed and created to keep young, new drivers safer and get them used to driving in a controlled way and at a slower pace. Enjoy the different accomplishments and stages as you learn, and don't be in a hurry to rush the process.