California Driver Permit — How to Get One
If you need to know how to get your first provisional instruction permit in California, look no further! Following are the steps you need to take to get your first driver permit in California:
Before The DMV
Before you even make your DMV appointment or apply, you will need to take a few steps to get your driver education training requirements in order. Here are some steps you can complete before going to the DMV:
- Complete a Driver's Education course licensed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you are at least 15 years old, you can enroll in our program. All you need to do is complete all the chapters and pass the easy final exam.
- Enroll in and complete a behind-the-wheel driver training program. In addition to our online teen drivers ed course, you will need to enroll in a driver training program in order to get a learner's license.
- Gather materials. You will need to get together some important paperwork before you make the trek to the DMV.
- Complete the original DL 44 application form with parent or guardian signatures.
- Provide documents establishing your and identity, residency (if applicable) and birth date. The documents must be a certified copy or original document, must contain an impressed seal or original stamped impression, must not be a photocopy, and cannot be laminated. For a list of acceptable documents, see the DMV website here.
- Provide your full true name and Social Security Number (if eligible).
Then you're ready for your DMV visit and to apply for your first permit!
At The DMV
- You will need to be between the ages of 15½ and 18. Even though you can start and complete your driver ed program starting at 15, you need to be 15 1/2 to apply for your permit.
- Make an appointment at your nearest DMV office. Appointments can save you a lot of time — and at some locations, they are the only way to get in at all. Make your appointment early, as some locations can book weeks in advance. Locations also will not give tests after 4:30 p.m. so make an earlier appointment and arrive on time.
- Bring all of the necessary paperwork and identification. See the above section for what to gather.
- Pass a traffic laws and signs test. The exam is 46 questions long and you will need to answer at least 38 questions correctly to pass.
- Pass a vision exam. If you use glasses or contacts, no worries! You will be able to use them for the exam, just make sure the tester knows.
- Provide a thumb print and have your photo taken.
- Pay the $33 application fee.
California Provisional Permit Restrictions
- You must obey all traffic laws.
- You must drive without a collision.
- You must drive with a parent, guardian, spouse or adult age 25 or older who holds a valid California driver license.
- You must hold your permit for at least six months before you can apply for your driver license.
- The Zero Tolerance law applies until 21 — that means that a teen driver may not drink and drive.
- The use of cell phones (with or without hands-free devices), laptops, pagers and other electronic devices is prohibited for drivers under the age of 18.