California DMV Drivers License—Quick Summary

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The process for getting a California drivers license varies for different age groups. If you're under 18, here is a general outline of the steps you'll need to take in order to earn your drivers license:

  1. Complete DMV-approved drivers education
  2. Study for and take the written instruction permit test
  3. Take drivers training and practice driving under supervision
  4. Take the driving test for your California drivers license

For more details, check out our step-by-step California drivers license instructions.

Upon completing the driving test, you are issued a provisional drivers license. For more information on provisional drivers licenses, please refer to the California Graduated Drivers License (GDL) section of this site.

If you are over 18, you'll have to go through an almost identical process and pay the same fees. The following procedures will be omitted if you are over 18:

  • You do not need your parent or guardian's signature.
  • You do not need to complete drivers ed or drivers training courses or submit any forms regarding this subject.

  • There will be no holding period for your instructional permit—you can apply for your drivers license the day after you receive a permit. However, you are strongly advised to practice driving before making driving test appointment with the DMV.
  • Restrictions posed by the GDL law will not apply to you when you obtain your drivers license.
  • If you already hold a drivers license issued by another state, some tests and fees can be waived. Please visit the CA DMV website or contact your nearest DMV office to find out what is needed to earn your California drivers license.

    Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details directly with the CA DMV. You can visit the CA DMV website or call 1-800-777-0133 for general drivers license and registration information. is a privately held company and is in no way associated with the Department of Motor Vehicles, any other government agency, or the driving schools listed in this website. All external hyperlinks are provided for your information and for the benefit of the general public. does not testify to, sponsor or endorse the accuracy of the information provided on externally linked pages.