How to Get Drivers License in California

To get your California driver’s license, the California DMV requires that you be at least 16 years of age, have held your permit for at least 6 months, have completed a driver’s education course, and have completed 6 hours of professional behind-the-wheel driver training and 50 hours of practice with an adult 25 years of age or older, 10 of which must be at night. Once you have met the license requirements, you will need to make an appointment at your local DMV office for your behind-the-wheel driving skills test.

In order to apply for a provisional California driver license you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Have held your instruction permit for at least six months.
  • Have completed drivers education.
  • Have completed 6 hours of professional driver training, and provide your completion certificate.
  • Provide a parent or guardian signature on your instruction permit verifying that you have completed 50 hours of driving practice (10 hours must be night driving).
  • Provide proof of financial responsibility to show that the vehicle you will be driving during the test is properly insured.
  • Schedule a behind-the-wheel driving test appointment using the DMV’s online Appointment System.
  • 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.

For more detailed information on obtaining and holding a driver’s license, we also recommend visiting the California DMV’s Driver License Information for New Drivers page.


California Drivers License Restrictions

For the first year that you hold your driver’s license, it is known as a provisional license and is subject to certain restrictions. For 12 months, you may only transport passengers under 20 years of age or drive between 11 PM and 5 AM if you are accompanied by a licensed driver 25 years of age or older. For answers to frequently asked questions about these restrictions, please see the California DMV’S Young Drivers page.

Minors who are issued a provisional California driver license must be accompanied by a licensed driver 25 years or older in the first 12 months:

  • When you transport passengers 20 years of age at any time.
  • When driving between 11pm and 5am.

Liability

A minor’s application for a California drivers license must have the signatures of:

  • Both parents, if the parents are California residents and have joint custody, or
  • Both parents, if divorced, with joint custody, or
  • One parent, if that parent has custody, or
  • Guardians of the minor, if neither parent is living or has custody, or
  • The person(s) having actual full and complete custody, if no legal guardian is appointed.
  • Nonresident parents cannot sign the application form and cannot accept liability for a minor in California.
  • Nonresident military parents stationed and living in California can sign the application form.

When parents or guardians sign for a minor to get a California drivers license, they are stating that they will accept financial responsibility for that minor. Financial responsibility in California requires that drivers and vehicle owners carry the following minimum monetary limits:

  • 15,000 for injury or death of 1 person per accident.
  • 30,000 for injury or death of 2 or more persons per accident.
  • 5,000 for any property damage per accident.

Evidence of financial responsibility must be carried at all times in the vehicle. Most Californians maintain financial responsibility through insurance companies, which provide the policy holder with an identification card to be used as evidence of coverage. The card must state the insurance company's name and address, the period of coverage, and policy number.