Important: If you are younger than 18 you must first take a Driver's Ed course, get a permit and complete a driver's training program for in-car instruction before applying for a California provisional driver license.:
First: Choose the License Type
Whether you are a teenager ready to get behind the wheel or you just moved to the state, you must obtain a driver's license to legally operate a motor vehicle on California roads. The state offers the following types of licenses, valid for four years:
- Class C (regular driver's license for all passenger cars, pickups, SUVs, and recreational vehicles (RVs) 40 feet long or less)
- Class M1/M2 (motorcycle)
- Noncommercial Class A or B (see below for vehicle details)
- Commercial (CDL)
Second: Take a Driver's Education Course
Younger than 18 ― Driver's Ed is a requirement.
18 and Older ― If you are obtaining a Class C license for the first time, you should consider completing a driver's education class. Although it is not a requirement, it is a good idea to take a supplemental course before you take the written test at the DMV.
Third: Take the Driving Test
If you hold a valid license from another state and you simply need to swap your out-of-state license for a California license, you are not required to take the driving test.
However, first-time drivers must take a driving test. Just be sure you make an appointment; the DMV will not administer the test without one. You also must provide proof of financial responsibility.
NOTE: If you are applying for a Noncommercial Class A or B license, bring your own vehicle to the DMV for inspection. You will take the driving test in your own vehicle.
Once You Pass
The DMV will issue you an interim license you can use until you receive your new photo license by mail. This license is valid for 90 days.
If You Fail
You can take the test three times if you have trouble passing. Although there is no minimum waiting period between tests, you must make another appointment each time you retest. Each additional test will cost you $6.