So you’re finally in the beginning stages of pursuing that honorable, arduous journey to getting your California driver license. Just kidding - it’s actually pretty simple and straightforward, and it begins with getting your learner permit. But in order to do that, you’ll have to pass the driver test first.
“But Aceable,” you cry woefully, “how will I pass this seemingly impossible driver test?” Easy! Just take free permit practice tests with Aceable! Looking for more resources? Study the California Driver Handbook, which is where all the questions for the test will come from. The best part? You can get the manual for free (we’ll link to all the places where you can get the handbook at the end of the post).
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What is The DMV Handbook?
The California Driver Handbook is a 116-page booklet published by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s available for all types of drivers (including commercial and motorcycle) in a wide variety of languages (English, Armenian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Russian, Punjabi, Farsi, American Sign Language).
The handbook and other driving manuals are meant to help new-to-California residents, as well as first-time drivers, get acquainted with the rules of the road, understand traffic laws and safety information.
What Is Covered In the Handbook?
At a high level, the manual provides information regarding different types of licenses, state traffic laws, road signs, safe driving information, health and safety regulations, and what to expect on your examination. All of this will help you drive safely and successfully in the state of California!
Here’s a full list of the major topics of the CDL and a quick summary of what each covers.
NEW 2017 LAWS
New traffic laws effective January 01, 2017. These laws include Use of Electronic Wireless Devices, DUI Ignition Interlock Device, Motorcycle Lane Splitting, and Public Transit Bus Lanes.
Information and hours of your state DMV office as well information about the services that the DMV offers. As well the California DMV office general phone numbers.
Disclaimer and general housekeeping information about Accurate Identification and Basic Information.
THE CALIFORNIA DRIVER LICENSE
Information about who must have a driver license in California. Generally, California Residents, California Resident Military Personnel, and New California Residents must have a driver license in California.
OBTAINING A DRIVER LICENSE
Requirements for obtaining a permit and driver license as well as all of the steps in obtaining both.
DRIVER LICENSE CLASSES
Overview of what vehicle you are allowed to drive with the various driver license classes as well as a complete list of the other classes of driver licenses and endorsements.
THE NEW DRIVER EXAMINATION PROCESS
Where to take tests and what to expect during the test. As well as what qualifies as cheating during the examination.
SPECIAL SECTION - MINORS
Requirements, restrictions and permit information for minors. In addition it includes the exception to these requirements such as medical necessity, schooling or school-authorized activity, employment necessity, and necessity to drive an immediate family member.
MISCELLANEOUS LICENSING INFORMATION.
Covers a wide variety of topics including replacing a lost license, changing information on your license, and renewing your license. This includes how to change your name on your license, how to renew your driver license, and how to extend your driver license.
Overview of the safety mechanisms in your vehicle and the laws surrounding them, including seat belt laws, child restraint systems and safety seats, and riding safely with air bags.
Explanation of speed limits, traffic lights, signals and signs.
LAWS AND RULES OF THE ROAD
Summary of laws including right-of-way, safety around pedestrians, crosswalks, roundabouts and cellphone usage.
Advice on scanning and gauging the distance of objects around you.
Tips on changing lanes, Carpool and High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, passing, yield lines and line colors.
Overview of legal and illegal turns and u-turns.
Explanation of parking regulations and best practices for a variety of situations including parallel parking and parking on a hill.
SAFE DRIVING PRACTICES
Best practices for signaling, steering, headlights, and horn usage.
Best practices for following distance, what splitting the difference is, passing and merging in and out of traffic.
SHARING THE ROAD
How to drive safely with a variety of other vehicles types and drivers (like 18-wheelers, motorcycles, trailers, bicyclists, etc.).
SPECIAL DRIVING SITUATIONS
How to drive safely in a variety of dangerous situations such as heavy traffic, water on the road, slippery roads, high winds, driving in fog, driving with sun glare, driving in darkness, driving in rain or snow, and in flooded roadways.
What to do in the event of a road accident, skids on slippery surfaces, driving off the pavement, and other collisions.
Tips for staying emotionally, mentally and physically ready for driving.
ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
Everything you should know about the dangers of drinking and driving.
ADDITIONAL DRIVING LAWS/RULES
Misc. things you must and must not do.
Information on things like insurance requirements, collisions, getting a ticket, etc.
ONLINE DRIVER LICENSE FAST FACTS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS
Sample practice tests.
Where to get the handbook
Good news for those of you always on the go: the California DMV now offers the Driver Handbook on mobile for iOS and Android. The app also offers sample quizzes, instructional videos, and interactive tutorials.
Prefer to do it all online? Download a PDF of the CDL handbook on the DMV website here.
To get a hard copy of the driver's manual by snail mail, contact your local CA DMV office or call (800) 777-0133 (office hours between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.). You can also pick up a driving manual in person at your local DMV office.