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How to Get Your California Learners Permit

Are you ready to hit the road, but wondering how to earn your first driver license? It's not complicated. All it takes is a few steps—and it starts with getting your California learners permit (also called a provisional instruction permit). This will allow you to practice and hone your skills in preparation for the state driving test.

The Requirements to Earn a California Learners Permit

California teens can apply for a permit as early as 15½ years old—but first they must enroll in a 30-hour California drivers education course that has been approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Drivers education teaches important traffic rules and prepares you for the written permit test. At the end of the course, you'll receive a Certificate of Completion that proves you finished your drivers education.

Everyone under 17½ must meet these requirements for a California learners permit:

  • Be at least 15 years and 6 months old
  • Be enrolled in an approved drivers ed course

When these requirements are met, you can apply for your California learners permit at a DMV field office. You can walk into a Drivers License Processing Center, but making an appointment will save you time.

You can schedule an appointment online, calling 800-777-0133, or by using the DMV Now app on your iPhone or Android.

DMV Requirements for License Application

Things to bring to the DMV:

  • A completed Form DL 44 available at the DMV, signed by your parent or guardian.
  • Proof of your date of birth and legal residence. See a list of acceptable documents.
  • An application fee.
  • Proof of Social Security number.
  • Proof of California residency.
  • Proof of completion of a drivers education course.
  • Provide a thumbprint.

You'll also be required to pass a vision exam and written traffic and sign knowledge test. The test will gauge your knowledge of California road signs, driving laws, and miscellaneous rules included in the California Driver Handbook. The test has 46 questions, and you need to answer at least 38 correctly.

You're allowed three attempts to pass the test within a year. If you don't pass in three attempts, you'll need to reapply for your permit with a new payment.

What's Next?

Once you've received your California learners permit, you can start practicing for a drivers license right away! However, there are a few restrictions when it comes to getting behind the wheel.

You may only drive with a parent, guardian, spouse, or an adult who is at least 25 years old and has a valid drivers license. You may not drive your friends around in the car, especially not by yourself.

To apply for your California drivers license before you turn 18, you must:

  • Practice driving for at least six months.
  • Complete six hours of drivers training with a licensed instructor.
  • Complete 50 hours of driving practice, including 10 hours at night. These hours must be supervised and certified by an adult who is at least 25 years old and has a valid drivers license.

After fulfilling your behind-the-wheel driving requirements, you can then apply for a provisional license.

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