Don’t let the permit test stop you from getting your permit. Follow this step-by-step guide to discover the steps needed pass your permit test, get your permit, and earn your drivers license in the state of California.
Getting your California learner’s permit is a big step toward obtaining your driver’s license. Like many other states, California has a three-step graduated licensing program (GDL). These steps exist to help you become comfortable with the rules of the road and develop your driving skills before you become a fully licensed driver.
In California, the GDL program consists of obtaining a:
- Provisional instruction permit (or learner’s permit)
- Provisional driver’s license
- Full driver’s license
Provisional Instruction Permit
If you’re between the ages of 15 and a half and 18, you will need to apply for a provisional instruction permit (also known as a learner’s permit) so that you can begin practicing driving under the supervision of a licensed driver age 25 or older. California requires that all teens under the age of 17 and a half complete a 30-hour driver’s education course that has been approved by the state. You have the option of taking this course in a classroom environment or doing it online.
If you are over 17 and a half years old, you can apply for your permit without taking the course.
Study for the Written Exam
The provisional instruction permit requires that you pass a written exam, more commonly known as the permit test. If you want to do well, you should take plenty of time to study. We provide a free copy of the California Driver’s Handbook for you to use.
Take Practice Tests
Taking a practice test is a great way to ensure you are ready for the actual exam. Our California practice permit test includes many of the same topics you will find on the real test and is a wonderful resource for learning.
Visit Your Local California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Office and Take Your Test
When you feel ready and have completed your driver’s education course, you can visit your local DMV office to take your permit test. Be sure to bring:
- Your parent or guardian
- A completed form DL-44, which you must pick up at the DMV office ahead of time
- Your certified birth certificate and proof of social security number
- If required, proof that you successfully completed your driver’s education course
- $32 for testing fees
Try your best to relax while taking the exam. If you need to, go back over any questions you aren’t sure about. To pass, you will need 39 correct answers out of 46 total questions. You will have three chances to pass the exam, and if you fail after those three tries, you will be required to wait a week before trying again.
Once you pass your written test, you will be required to take a vision test to ensure that you can see well enough to drive properly.
Provisional Driver’s License
While you have your instruction permit, you must log 50 hours of practice with the supervision of a licensed driver at least 25 years of age. Of those hours, 10 must take place at night. You also must log six hours of training with a professional driving instructor.
When you have met those requirements, and you are at least 16 years old, you are eligible to apply for your provisional license. Call your local DMV office to make an appointment to take the road test. When you go to your appointment, bring along:
- Your instruction permit
- Registration and proof of insurance for the vehicle you will be driving during the test
- Your parent your guardian
When you pass the road test, you will be able to drive without supervision, but during the first year of holding the license, there are a few limitations you should be aware of:
- You may not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for work, school, or an emergency situation
- You may not drive with passengers under 20 years of age unless you have a licensed driver over 25 years of age with you
When you turn 18, these restrictions will be removed as long as you have not received any traffic violations or had any accidents while holding a restricted license. You don’t need to apply for anything else at this time. You can simply begin enjoying your freedom as a fully licensed driver.
If you are moving to California and have already completed a driver’s education course in another state, you will need one of the following items to apply for your instruction permit:
- Form DL-33, which has been completed by your out-of-state school
- A letter printed on your school’s stationary and signed by an official that states you completed training equivalent to what is required in California