Congratulations! You have your California permit. You’re well on your way to obtaining your California driver’s license. Having a California permit allows you to operate a motor vehicle under certain circumstances, such as someone being in the car with you at all times. So, who can be in the car with you as a driver with a permit in California?
CA drivers who have a permit are required to be accompanied by an individual who is at least 18 years of age and has a valid California license. The person accompanying the CA permit holder must be seated close enough to the driver so they can take control of the vehicle in an emergency. The accompanying individual can be a spouse, parent, guardian, or adult who is at least 25 years of age with a valid CA driver’s license.
If you’re a teenage CA resident who wants to get a driver’s license, there are specific driving phases you must pass. To decrease the risk of motor vehicle collisions involving teenagers, a provisional driver’s license and instruction permit are issued to minors (an individual who is younger than 18 years of age). To receive a CA provisional instruction permit, you must do//be the following:
- Be at least 15 ½ years of age but under 18 years of age
- Complete a Driver’s License or Identification Card Application (DL44) Form – this form includes your social security number (if eligible)
- Your parent(s) or guardian(s) must sign the DL 44 form (if both parents or guardians have custody, both are required to sign the form)
- Present a valid birth certificate or legal presence or identity document
- Provide a Certificate of Completion of Driver’s Education (Driver’s Ed) or enrollment in an integrated Driver’s Ed/ driver training program that is issued by the school providing the instruction
If your Driver’s Education or driving training courses were taken in a state other than California, the CA DMV may accept a To Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools (DL 33) Form, which must be completed by the out-of-state school. You can obtain a DL33 form at your local CA DMV branch or call the CA DMV at 1-800-777-0133.
There is an exception in this situation. If you are at least 17 ½ years of age, you can receive a CA instruction permit without completing a Driver’s Ed or driver’s training course. However, to receive a driver’s license, you are required to provide proof that you have passed Driver’s Ed or driver’s training courses or wait until you are at least 18 years of age. Next, you’ll need to do the following:
- Pay all applicable fees
- Pass the vision exam
- Have your photo taken
- Provide your fingerprint
- Pass the knowledge test
To pass the CA knowledge test, you can’t miss more than 8 questions. If you fail this test, you are required to wait at least 7 days, not including the day the test was failed, before you can retake the test.
Your CA instruction permit is NOT valid until you start driver’s training. Your instructor will sign the permit to validate it. You can use your CA instruction permit to practice with a licensed individual of the following:
- Parent or guardian
- A CA driver who is at least 25 years of age
- A certified driving instructor
The licensed individual is required to have a valid driver’s license and must be positioned in a way that allows them to take control of the vehicle, if necessary. Remember that a CA instruction permit does NOT allow you to operate a motor vehicle at any time, not even to a CA DMV branch to take the driving test.
When reasonable transportation, such as public transportation, and maybe even Uber or Lyft, is not available, and you must operate a motor vehicle, CA law grants the following exceptions for minors to operate a vehicle between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM, or to transport an immediate family member unsupervised or unaccompanied.
CA law requires you to carry a signed note explaining why driving is necessary, and when this necessity will end. The following are considered a necessity for individuals with a CA permit to operate a motor vehicle:
- Medical necessity
A note must be signed by your physician and include a diagnosis and probable date of recovery which will end your requirement to drive.
- School or school-authorized activities
A note must be signed by your school’s principal, dean, or designee, and it must include the reason for the school or school-authorized activity and the probable date when the activity will end.
- Employment necessity
A note must be signed by your employer, and this note must include the probable date your employment will end. Also, your employment/position at the workplace must be verified.
- Immediate need for a family member
You need a note that is signed by your parent or guardian, and it must include the reason you need to operate a motor vehicle and the probable date the necessity will end.
- Emancipated minor
Documentation is not required for this exemption. However, when you apply for your CA instruction permit, you must have declared yourself emancipated by completing a Transmittal Form (DL 11) and providing a California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR 22/SR 1P) instead of your parent or guardian’s signature.
To receive a driver’s license in CA, you must do/be the following:
- Be at least 16 years of age
- Have attained your CA instruction permit (in CA or a different state) for at least 6 months
- Have proof of completion of Driver’s Ed or driver’s training
- Your parent(s) or guardian(s) and instructor(s) are required to sign your CA instruction permit to verify that you have completed 50 hours of driving practice. 10 of these hours must be driven at night.
- You need to schedule your driving test. You can do so online at the CA DMV or call 1-800-777-0133 during normal business hours
- Pass the CA driving test (if you fail the driving test, you are required to wait at least 2 weeks, not including the day the test was failed, before re-taking the driving test and paying the re-test fee for each subsequent driving test. If you fail the driving test 3 times, you must reapply and pay all applicable application fees.
If you are a minor who has an out-of-state driver’s license, when you come to CA, your driving test is often waived. However, the CA DMV may require you to complete a driving test for any type of driver’s license application.
If you are a minor who surrenders your out-of-state driver’s license to apply for an original CA driver’s license, you are subject to all restrictions and/or requirements per CA law. You may be required to show proof of completion of a Driver’s Ed or driver’s training course.
As a provisional driver’s license holder in California, you will restricted for 30 days if you have a violation point count on your driving record of at least 2 points within 12 months. You will receive a 6-month suspension and 1-year probation if you have a violation point count on your driving record of at least 3 points within 12 months.
If you are a provisional driver’s license holder in CA who receives additional violation points during your suspension or probationary period, you may receive a subsequent driver’s license suspension. You are required to serve the full probation term, restriction, or supervision even if you turn 18 years of age before the probation, suspension, or restriction ends.