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California Department of Motor Vehicles
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Provisional Instruction Permit or Driver License Information

Instruction Permit Requirements

To obtain a provisional instruction permit you must be at least 151/2 but under 18 years of age.

You must:

  • Fill out the DMV application form (DL 44).
  • Obtain your parents’ or guardians’ signatures on the application form.
  • Present an acceptable birth date/legal presence document. Refer to the California Driver Handbook for additional information.
  • Provide your social security number.
  • Pay the required application fee.
  • Pass an eye exam.
  • Have your picture taken.
  • Give a thumb print.
  • Pass a law test.
    • If you incorrectly answer nine or more questions (46 total questions) on the law test, you must wait one week before taking it again.
  • Hold your permit for a minimum of 6 months before you apply for a license.

If you are between 151/2 and 171/2 you must also provide proof that you:

  • Completed driver education (DL 387 or OL 237) and are taking driver training (DL 392 or OL 392). Your driving instructor will give you the forms to show proof of completion.
  • Completed driver education and driver training (DL 387, DL 388, DL 388A, OL 237, or OL 238).
  • Are enrolled and participating in an approved integrated driver education/driver training program (DL 400).

The hours required for driver education and driver training classes are defined in Education Code §§51851 and 51852.

If you are at least 171/2, you may obtain a permit without driver education or driver training. However to get a license, you must bring proof that you have completed driver education and driver training or wait until you are 18 years old.

If you want a permit to drive mopeds or motorcycles, you must be at least 151/2 and bring proof that you have completed driver education and driver training.

NOTE: The provisional instruction permit is not valid until you start your behind-the-wheel driver training with an instructor or reach age 171/2.

Instruction Permit Restrictions

You may use your provisional instruction permit to practice with a parent, guardian, licensed driver 25 years of age or older, or a licensed or certified driving instructor. The person must have a valid driver license in his/her possession and must sit close enough to take control of the vehicle at any time. A provisional instruction permit does not let you drive alone— not even to a DMV office to take the driving test.

If you have an instruction permit that allows you to drive mopeds or motorcycles (or any 2-wheel vehicle), you:

  • Cannot carry passengers.
  • Must ride during daylight only.
  • Cannot ride on any freeway.

License Requirements

To obtain a provisional license you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Have held your instruction permit for at least six months.
  • Provide proof of completed driver education and driver training (DL 387, DL 388, DL 388A, OL 237 or OL 238).
  • Provide a parent’s or guardian’s signature on your instruction permit verifying that you have completed 50 hours of driving practice (of which 10 hours must be night driving). Refer to the Parent-Teen Training Guide, (available at any DMV office or online at: www.dmv.ca.gov) for more information.
  • Call 1-800-777-0133 during normal business hours or make an appointment online at: www.dmv.ca.gov, to schedule a behind-the-wheel driving test.
  • Pass the behind-the-wheel driving test.
    • If you fail, you must wait two weeks before taking the driving test again and pay a retest fee for each subsequent driving test.

License Restrictions

Effective January 1, 2006, you must be accompanied and supervised by a licensed parent, guardian, other licensed driver 25 years of age or older, or a licensed or certified driving instructor when you:

  • Transport passengers under 20 years of age at any time for the first twelve months.
  • Drive between 11 PM and 5 AM for the first twelve months.

NOTE: Local laws may further restrict or prohibit driving during specified hours.

Effective July 1, 2008, Drivers under the age of 18 may not use any type of wireless device such as a telephone (including “hands-free”), pager, laptop, or any other electronic communication or mobile services device to speak or text, while driving.

EXCEPTION: A cell phone may be used in an emergency situation to call police, fire or medical authorities (VC §23124).

Exceptions to Restrictions

When reasonable transportation is not available and it is necessary for you to drive, the law grants the following exceptions for minors to drive between 11 PM and 5 AM or to transport an immediate family member unaccompanied and unsupervised.

The law requires that you must carry a note explaining why you must drive and when the necessity will end.

  • Medical necessity
    The note must be signed by your physician and contain a diagnosis and probable date when recovery will end your need to drive.

  • Schooling or school-authorized activities
    The note must be signed by your school principal, dean, or his or her designee, and include a reason for the school or school-authorized activity and the date when the activity will end.

  • Employment necessity
    The note must be signed by your employer and verify employment and the date your employment will end.

  • Immediate need of family member
    The note must be signed by your parent or legal guardian, and include the reason and date the necessity will end.

  • Emancipated minor
    No documentation is needed for this exemption. However, you must have already declared yourself emancipated by completing a DMV form and by providing Proof of Financial Responsibility (SR 1P) in lieu of your guarantors’ signatures when you applied for your instruction permit.

Minors With an Out-of-State License

The provisional restrictions also apply to any minor who surrenders an out-of-state driver license for an original California license.

Provisional Driver License Sanctions

Currently a 30-day restriction is required if your driver record shows a violation point count of two or more points in 12 months.

You will receive a six-month suspension and a one year term of probation if your driver record shows a violation point count of three or more points in 12 months. Also, the court is required to impose community service hours or fines for violation of specific provisions.

NOTE: Probation means: no tickets, no accidents, and any current restriction or suspension will run its full term even if you turn 18 before the restriction or suspension ends.

FFDL 19 (REV. 12/2008)