Should I Wait to Get My California License If I'm 17?

So, you’re 17 years old and asking yourself:

Should I wait to get my California drivers license until I’m 18?

In this post, we’ll explore the pros of waiting vs. not waiting to get your California drivers license, and how the process varies between the two.

The pros of waiting to get your California drivers license after 17

  • Cheaper
  • Faster
  • Easier
  • Don’t have to take Drivers Ed to get the learner’s permit

The pros of getting your California drivers license at 17

  • You’ll have your drivers license sooner
  • You’ll be able to learn the rules of the road faster, and first-hand.

What is the difference between waiting and not waiting to get your California drivers license?

If you are almost 18 years old, you have two options for getting your drivers license.

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Getting your California drivers license before you turn 18

If you are between 15.5 - 17.5 years old, you must first apply for a provisional permit and complete Drivers Ed. Once you have completed the course and passed the drivers test, you will go to the DMV to take your written test.

Once you pass the written test and pay the required $35 fee, you will earn your Provisional Permit. Please note that if all requirements are not met within the 12 month period, the application is considered void and all steps must be repeated.

Once you have your permit, you must log 50 hours of driver training with a licensed driver who is over 25 years old, 10 hours of which must take place at night. In addition to these hours, you must also complete an additional 6 hours of driver training with a professional instructor.

Waiting to get your California drivers license

If you are older than 17.5 years old, you don’t have to take Drivers Ed to get your learner's permit or license. All you have to do is study and then make an appointment at the DMV to take your written exam.

After your exam, you must take 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training, 10 of which must be at night. Once you have completed your hours, you can take your road test and apply for your intermediate license (aka your provisional license).

Once you have your provisional license, you can drive alone. During the 12 months of licensing, however, there are still a few restrictions on your provisional license:

  • You can't drive between 11 p.m. - 5 a.m.
  • No passengers under 20 years old, unless you're with a licensed driver over 25 years old.

Once you turn 18 years old, these provisional license restrictions will disappear. Congrats, you licensed California driver!

Krista Doyle
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