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How to Get a Driver's License in California

Applying for a driver's license in California requires several steps if you are a new driver. While you can complete some of these steps online, you also need to visit the local office for the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to complete the process. This guide will show you exactly how to get a driver's license in California.

1. Complete Form DL 44

This is the driver license application, which is available through your local DMV office. You will also need proof of your Social Security number and proof of your full name. You can bring your Social Security card, military ID, divorce decree, birth certificate, or passport as evidence. The California DMV also requires that you bring two pieces of evidence for your residency in the state, which could include a rental agreement or utility bill.

When you fill out the form, you will request a Class C driver's license. This is the license for noncommercial cars and trucks. This license requires a thumbprint and photo as well.

2. Pay the Driver's License Fee

The driver's license fee may change over time. As of 2016, the fee is $33 to submit the driver's license form. At this time, you may wish to make an appointment for your upcoming tests as well. Depending on your location, the time for an available appointment may differ.

3. Complete the Vision Exam

In order to obtain your driver's license, you must have eyesight of 20/40 with both eyes. Additionally, you must have at least 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other. You can wear corrective lenses or contacts during your exam, which typically takes just a few moments.

4. Pass a Written Permit Test

In California, the permit test requires you to answer 36 questions related to the rules of the road. You must have a broad understanding of everything from when to use your headlights to how to read signs. The test is a multiple choice exam.

If you fail this exam, you have two more chances to try to pass it. With the help of the DMV, you can take a practice test online to improve your chances. You can also take a course that will teach you everything you need to know in order begin driving with your permit.

5. Learn to Drive with a Permit

Learning to drive with your learner's permit will help you pass the driving test, enabling you to receive your driver's license. In order to use your permit, you must drive with a licensed driver who is 18 years or older.

If you are a minor, you must be at least 16 to receive your driver's license, and you are required to complete at least 50 hours of training with a licensed driver during the permit stage.

If you are 18 or older, you do not need the permit at all. In fact, you can move straight to the driving test if you feel confident in your abilities.

6. Pass a Driving Test

When you are ready to take the driving test, you can schedule an appointment. You may be able to do this online. When you show up for your test, you need to bring your own vehicle in addition to proof of insurance and proof of registration. The test will examine your ability to drive safely and abide by the rules of the road. You will be asked to make turns, park, and obey posted signs.

7. Receive Your License in the Mail

You will receive your driver's license in the mail within the next two months. If you are a minor, this will be a provisional driver's license with certain stipulations you must meet, including restrictions on nighttime driving.

In order to pass the written exam and receive your learner's permit before you are 17.5 years old, you must take a driver's education course. Even if you do not have to take the permit test, taking a course is a fantastic idea. A driver's education course will cover topics you might not have considered in your personal studies.

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