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How to get driver's license in California at age 16?

Teens at the age of 16 can apply for a special driver's license called Provisional Driver License.

Provisional Driver License has some restrictions during the first 12 months, such as driving between 11PM and 5AM (please see additional details on the Provisional DL restrictions and exceptions below.)

If the teen who is holding a provisional driver license keeps his/her status as a safe driver, meaning he/she has not received traffic violation points above a certain numbers that is considered unsafe (please see additional details below), at the age of 18, the teen's provisional driver license will become a standard California driver license and he/she can visit the DMV and obtain a copy of his/her driver's license without the word "Provisional" on it.

Below steps simply explains the required steps to work toward receiving a Provisional Driver License for a teen under the age of 18:

Step 1 - Drivers Education (Drivers Ed or DE)

Driver Ed Course is a course about driver responsibilities, rules of the road, being a safe driver to avoid accidents, traffic laws, etc..

The Drivers Education course can be provided online or in a classroom setting, but these days, majority of the drivers education course are provided online.

The Drivers Education course needs to be reviewed and approved by the DMV

DriversEducationUSA.com provides a DMV approved Drivers Education Online Course that is easy to learn and easy to complete.

The other advantages of DriversEducationUSA.com Online Drivers Ed Course is that there is no time limit or pressure and you can take the quizzes and final test as many times as you like until you pass.

Once you are ready to take our online drivers education course, click on Sign Up for DriversEducationUSA Online Drivers Ed Course to get started.

After you complete Online Drivers Ed Course , you will receive a Certificate of Completion that you can take to DMV as a proof that you have completed Drivers Education Requirement.

Step 2 - Instruction Permit (also called Learner's Permit)

An Instruction Permit ("Learner's Permit") is a permit that gives permission to teens or individuals without the driver's license to drive in order to practice and learn driving and obtain their driver's license.

Teens between the age of 15 ½ to 18 can apply for their Instruction Permit by taking the following steps:

1. Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44)

Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44) form and have the parents or guardians sign it.
In order to fill out the DL 44 form, DMV is encouraging individuals to create an Online DMV account, and go through a few simple online questionnaires, and after completing the simple online questionnaires, take the next step to schedule an appointment with a DMV office.
The DMV questionnaires include a few identity questions such as first name, last name, address, social security number (if you have one), etc..
Below is the link to the DMV's DL 44 online form:
DL 44 Online Application

2. Go to the DMV office near you.
Bring the following document with you at your DMV appointment:

  • The confirmation code that DMV has emailed you after you completed their online questionnaire for DL 44
  • A legally acceptable document that proves your identity, such as a birth certificate, a Green Card or a U.S. passport.
  • The Certificate of Completion for Drivers Education that you have received after you have completed your Drivers Education course.

3. The procedure at the DMV Office.

Below are the procedures at the DMV office:

  • You will need to pay the required fee (DMV accepts cash, check, debit / credit cards, cashiers check.)
  • Pass the quick vision test.
  • They will take your photo.
  • They will take your fingerprint.
  • You will need to pass a written test.
    Below link is the sample written test from DMV - you can take below practice test to prepare for DMV's knowledge test (written test):
    DMV Practice Test 1
    (To pass the DMV knowledge test, you must at least answer 8 out of 10 questions correctly).

Step 3 - Behind the Wheel Drivers Training

We provide Drivers Education for the entire State of California, but our behind the wheel training is limitted to Orange County, please contact us at 562-305-3187 to schedule an appointment for behind the wheel training if you live in Orange County.

There are businesses and independent driving instructors that are licensed by the DMV to provide behind-the-wheel training.

The Behind the Wheel Drivers Training must consist of six hours, divided into three days, two hours of behind-the-wheel drivers training per day.

Google "behind the wheel drivers training near me" and select a behind the wheel instructor that is approved by the DMV and has good reviews and is professional, patient and caring.

After you complete the six hours behind the wheel training, you will receive a Certificate of Completion of Behind the Wheel training that you can take to DMV as a proof that you have completed Drivers Training Requirement.

Step 4 - Provisional Driver's License (DL)

Teens who are at least 16 years old and have gone through the above three steps of completing their Drivers Education and Drivers Training, and have held their Instruction Permit for at least six months, and have their instruction permit signed by a parent (or a guardian) verifying that they have completed 50 hours of driving practice with 10 hours of that driving practice being at night are eligible to apply and receive their Provisional Driver's License (DL) by taking the following steps:

  • Schedule an appointment with DMV for driving test using DMV's website: www.dmv.ca.gov or call DMV at 1-800-777-0133
  • Pass DMV's driving test. (If you fail DMV's driving test, you must wait 2 weeks before taking the driving test again.)
Provisional Driver's License Restrictions.

A minor who has obtained a Provisional Driver's License has the following restrictions during the first 12 months:

  • Cannot drive between 11 PM and 5 AM
  • Cannot transport passengers under 20 years of age unless accompanied by a person over the age of 25 who hold a valid Driver's License
Exceptions to the Provisional Driver's License Restrictions.
Below are the exceptions to the Provisional Driver's License Restrictions:
  • Medical Necessity - Must have a note from a physician explaininbg the diagnosis and estimated date of recovery.
  • School Necessity - Must have a note from the school principal or representative explaining the reason for such necessity.
  • Employment Necessity - Must have a note from the employer's representative explaining the reason for such necessity.
  • Family Necessity - Must have a note from the parent or guardian explaining the reason for such necessity.
  • Emancipated Minor - No note is needed for this exemption; however, the minor must have declared yourself emancipated when you have applied for the instruction permit.

Driving Violation Points and How it affects your Provisional Driver License.

Violation Points Sanctions
Two or more points within 12 months. 30 days suspension
Three or more points within 12 months. Six month suspension and one year probation
Additional points during suspension. Subsequent Driver License suspension suspension

Standard Driver's License (DL)

Teens who have reached the age of 18 and remained a safe driver (have not received traffic violation points above a certain numbers that is considered unsafe), the Provisional Driver's License will automatically becomes a standard Driver's License.

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