Applying For Your First California Driver License

You've already got your first California provisional instructional permit — now you're getting ready for the real thing! Our helpful guide will assist you in applying for your first California driver license.

Before Your DMV License Appointment

  • Hold your provisional permit for at least 6 months.
  • Complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving, with 10 hours at night. The supervising driver must be a parent or guardian at least 25 years old with a valid California driver's license, or a certified driving instructor.
  • Complete at least 6 hours of professional driver training.
  • Prepare for your behind-the-wheel driving test. Check the DMV site for test vehicle requirements and other safe driving tips for your road test. You may also want to practice driving in the area around your DMV office to get familiar with the roads and potential routes.

At Your DMV License Appointment

  • Make an appointment for a Behind-the-Wheel Driving Test. Use the online appointment portal or call 1-800-777-0133 and make sure to choose the correct appointment type. Make sure to make your appointment early — some locations can book up months in advance, especially for the longer driving test appointments.
  • Bring an eligible test vehicle. Check the DMV website for test vehicle requirements. You should be comfortable driving the car, and it should be in good working condition.
  • Provide proof of financial responsibility. You must show that your test vehicle is properly insured before the driving test begins. See the DMV website for eligible financial responsibility documents.
  • Take the Behind-the-Wheel Driving Test. You should have plenty of practice — now it's time to put it to use! If you happen to fail the test, you will need to wait two weeks before you can try again. You will have three chances to pass.
  • Have your picture taken.

That's it! You will be issued a paper interim license valid for 90 days and will receive your official license in the mail shortly after. Make sure to triple-check all of your address and other license information before you leave the DMV.

Driver License Restrictions

If you are under the age of 18, your new license will still be considered provisional and will come with certain restrictions.

For the first twelve months, you will need to be accompanied and supervised by a licensed parent, guardian or other driver 25 years or older when you:

  • Are transporting passengers under 20 years of age
  • Drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Some exemptions exist:

  • Medical necessity (a note must be signed by your physician and must include diagnosis and probable recovery date)
  • Schooling or school-authorized activity (a note must be signed by school principal, dean or designee)
  • Necessity of self or immediate family member (a note must be signed by parent or legal guardian)
  • If you are an emancipated minor, no documentation is needed, but you must have declared yourself emancipated and provided the DMV with Proof of Financial Responsibility in lieu of parent signatures