California Driver Handbook - The California Driver license

Adults’ Permit Requirements

If you are at least 18 years old, meet the application requirements, and pass the required tests, you may be issued a California instruction permit.

You must have an instruction permit while learning to drive. Your accompanying driver must be 18 years of age or older and have a valid California driver license. This person must be seated close enough to you that he or she is able to take control of the vehicle at any time. An instruction permit does not permit you to drive alone–not even to a DMV office to take the driving test.

If you want to obtain professional driver education and driver training, refer to the "Driving Schools" and "Mature Driver Program" sections of this handbook.

If you have a motorcycle permit, you cannot carry passengers, you must ride during daylight hours only, and you cannot ride on the freeway.

To get a motorcycle permit you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Complete the application requirements.
  • Pass a traffic laws and road signs test.

Adults’ Driver License Requirements

If you have never been licensed, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Comply with the requirements for a driving permit and when you are ready, you must schedule your behind-the-wheel driving test.
  • Make an appointment to take the behind-the-wheel driving test. When you report for the driving test, bring your instruction permit with you.
  • Pass the behind-the-wheel driving test. If you fail the test, you must pay a retest fee for a second or subsequent test and schedule a behind-the-wheel driving test for another day.

If you have an out-of-state or out-of-country driver license, you must:

  • Complete all the steps required for a driving permit.
  • Bring your valid out-of-state driver license to the DMV. Your out-of-state driver license will be invalidated and returned to you unless you are applying for a commercial driver license.

NOTE: The behind-the-wheel driving test for holders of out-of-state or U.S. territory driver licenses are normally waived. However, DMV may require a behind-the-wheel driving test for any type of driver license application. Behind-the-wheel driving tests are mandatory for out-of-country driver license holders.

previous page | table of contents | next page