Ready to get your California driver’s license? If you want to do it the easy way without having to go into a physical classroom, great news: you can take driver’s ed on your phone, tablet, or computer. Not sure how to get started? Let’s walk through the whole process, step-by-step.
Getting a Teen Driver’s License in California
First, we’ll go through the process of getting a license as a teen, then we’ll talk about what to do if you’re over 18. If you are between the ages of 15.5 and 18, then you’ll need to complete these steps:
Sign up for a state-approved driver’s education course.
Receive your certificate of completion.
Prepare for your trip to the DMV.
Pass your vision and permit test at the DMV.
Complete behind-the-wheel training.
Pass your driving test and get your California driver's license.
Let’s take a more detailed look at each of these steps.
Step 1: Sign Up for a Course
Driving is a big responsibility, so it’s important to find a driver’s education course that will work for you. It’s a big decision, so take your time and check out the California DMV’s information on choosing a driving school.
Why Choose Aceable?
Of course, you might find when comparing schools that Aceable’s online driver’s education course looks like a great choice. If you do choose Aceable, you’ll see that our course includes:
30 hours of entertaining, self-paced lessons
Pictures, videos, games, and voiceovers to make the content engaging
Questions to check for understanding and make sure you’re ready to ace your test
We’ve designed an interactive and entertaining course with gamified quizzes, video, and narration by our cute and quirky robot character. Most participants are pleasantly surprised at how humor is injected into a serious topic like driving. Despite the humorous approach, though, make no mistake that at Aceable we take driving seriously. Throughout the course, we stress the importance of being a safe driver.
Aceable has helped nearly 650,000 Californians become drivers.
Step 2: Receive your Certificate of Completion
Once you’ve finished the course, you’ll receive a free certificate of completion in the mail. You’ll want to hold off on framing it and putting it on your wall though, because you’ll need to bring it with you to the DMV to get your permit.
Step 3: Prepare for Your Trip to the DMV
There are a few things you’ll want to do before going to the DMV:
Apply for your driver's license online.
Make an appointment to take your permit test.
Prepare for the permit test.
Gather the documents you’ll take with you to the DMV.
Apply for Your Driver License Online
Head over to dmv.ca.gov to complete your driver’s license application. You’ll need to create a login, and have a parent or legal guardian handy to sign the application as well (yep, they can do that online).
And, while you’re online, now would be a great time to schedule an appointment at the DMV to get your permit!
Prepare for the Permit Test
It’s important to study for your permit test before you head to the DMV, and Aceable’s got ya! Aceable’s online driver’s education course comes with practice tests that you can take as many times as you need to feel prepared. You can also check out these study resources provided on the DMV website.
How Long Is the Permit Test?
The permit test, also known as the provisional license test, is 46 questions long. You need to get 38 questions right to pass, so that means you can only get eight answers incorrect. Make sure you go in prepared!
But, if you fail the test the first time, you can re-take it a week later. If you fail three times, you’ll have to re-pay the fee.
What’s on the Permit Test?
The test will cover these subjects:
Driving Under the Influence (of alcohol and/or drugs)
Driving on freeways
Parking (including on hills)
Seat belts and child restraints
Maintaining a space cushion
Speed and speed limits
Safe driving practices
Sharing the road with others
Driving with special vehicles (like school buses)
Improving traffic flow
Traffic lights and signals
Driving in inclement (bad) weather
Gather Your Documents
There are quite a few documents you’ll need to take with you to the DMV when you go to get your permit:
A completed California Driver’s License or Identification (DL/ID) Application with your parents’/guardians’ signatures
Your birth certificate (original or certified), valid passport or residence card (temp or permanent)
Your social security number
Proof of residency in California
$33 application fee
Certificate of Completion of Driver Education (a pink DL 400C - the form Aceable sends you) or proof that you are currently enrolled in drivers ed.
And of course, don’t forget to bring your parent or legal guardian!
Step 4: Pass the Permit and Vision Test at the DMV
On the day of your DMV appointment, you’ll have plenty of things to keep you busy. You will:
Present the documents you gathered in the previous step
Pay a $33 application fee
Provide your thumbprint
Take a vision test
Have your picture taken for your permit
Take a knowledge exam
Once you’ve passed the exam, you’ll be issued a permit. At this point you are ready to begin learning behind the wheel!
Step 5: Complete Behind-the-Wheel Training
When it comes to your behind-the-wheel training, you’ll complete six hours with a professional instructor, but most of the hours you’ll complete with your parent or legal guardian.
The very first thing you’ll need to do is complete the first two hours with a professional driving instructor. After you finish, the instructor will sign your permit (your permit isn’t valid until you get that signature!) and you’ll be set to start driving with your parent or guardian to fulfill the 50 hours of required driving instruction.
To successfully complete the required hours of driving, you’ll need to complete at least 10 hours of driving practice at night. You’ll also need to schedule four more hours of driving with a professional driving instructor.
Step 6: Take the Driving Test and Get That License
Once you’ve had your permit for at least six months and completed your behind-the-wheel training hours, you’ll be ready to take your driving test!
To make sure you’re prepared, the DMV website provides resources to help you get ready for your test. You’ll want to review these items, including the:
Drive Test Criteria Handbook
California Driver Handbook
When you’re ready, schedule your behind-the-wheel driving test on the DMV website.
What Car Will You Use for Your Test?
You’ll bring your own car to take the driving test on. Make sure it meets all of the requirements or your test will be rescheduled.
Also, make sure to bring proof that your vehicle is properly insured. All that’s left now is to pass your driving test.
If You Fail the Driving Test
Hopefully you’ve done your best to prepare for the test. If you fail the test, it’ll be a bummer – but it’s not the end of the world! You’ll just have to wait 14 days until you can take the test again and pay a fee of $7 to retest.
Getting Your License
Once you pass the driving test you’ll be issued a temporary license. You’ll use that until your official, plastic license comes in the mail – so exciting!
Are you ready to begin this journey and earn your driver's license? Start today by signing up for Aceable’s online driver’s education course!
Getting a California License as an Adult
If you are over 18, your process will look just a little bit different. To get your permit, you will:
Fill out a permit application online.
Schedule a time to visit the DMV.
At the DMV, pay a fee, pass the vision test, and pass the knowledge test.
Pass the driving test and provide proof of insurance.
The Adult Permit Test
The permit test for adults is shorter: only 36 questions, 30 of which you have to answer correctly to pass. It covers the same material as the teen test. Notice that adults don’t have to take driver’s ed first. That saves you time, but you still have to know the material! Study the handbook provided by the state to learn the material.
What to Bring to the DMV to Get Your Permit
Adults applying for a permit need to bring the following:
A completed California Driver’s License or Identification (DL/ID) Application
Your birth certificate (original or certified) or passport, residence card (temp or permanent)
Your social security number
$33 application fee
Proof of residential address in California. Two types of residency proof are needed for a REAL ID.
After You Get Your Permit
Once you pass the written and vision test and pay the fee, you’ll be issued a permit. Adults do not have a required number of driving hours to complete before they can take the driving test, but they do need to pass the driving test. Make sure you go in prepared! Check out the resources listed above to see what will be tested.
What to Bring to Your Driving Test
Proof of financial responsibility (car insurance)
Once you pass your driving test, you’ll be issued a license. Congrats!