Step 1. Apply for a Provisional License

If you are under 18 and at least 15 ½ you can apply for a provisional driver license. The first step to getting your license is to get your instruction permit. Because you are under 18, your permit and driver license are called, “Provisional”. This means you have additional restrictions placed on your permit and driver license that adults (18 and over) do not have.

If you are between 15 ½ and 17 ½ years of age, you will need to provide proof that you completed driver education before applying. So complete this first or they will send you back.

Step 2. Pass a Knowledge Test

You must get at least 38 questions right out of 46. You will have 3 chances to take the test, but if you fail a test you must wait 7 days before taking the test again. If you fail the test all 3 times, you must start over by filling out a new application.
When you are ready to take the actual test, keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Review the California Driver Handbook. It contains a lot of information and it may take you a few days to get through it.
  • Read the test questions carefully. Don’t read anything extra into the question. There will be one correct answer and the other two answer choices will be either obviously wrong or not appropriate for the question asked.
  • Remember, all the test questions are taken from the handbook. If you miss a question, the field office employee can tell you on which page to find the correct answer.
  • Don’t be nervous. DMV wants you to pass your test. Good Luck!

Provisional License Requirements

To decrease motor vehicle collisions involving teens, a special “provisional” driver license (DL) and instruction permit are issued to minors. A minor is a person under 18 years old. To obtain a provisional instruction permit, you must:

  • Be at least 15 1/2 but under 18 years old.
  • Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44) form, which includes your social security number, if eligible.
  • Have your parents or guardians sign the DL 44.
  • If both parents or guardians have custody, both must sign.
  • Present an acceptable birth date/legal presence document or identity document.
  • Refer to the California Driver Handbook or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website at for additional information.
  • Provide a certificate of completion of driver education or enrollment in an integrated driver education/driver training program issued by the school providing the instruction.
  • If your driver education or driving training courses were taken in a state other than California, DMV may accept a To Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools (DL 33) form completed by the out-of-state school. You may obtain a DL 33 form at your local DMV field office, or by calling DMV at 1-800-777-0133.

EXCEPTION: If you are at least 17 ½ years old, you may obtain an instruction permit without completing driver education or driver training. However, to get a DL, you must provide proof that you have completed driver education and driver training or wait until you are 18 years old.

  • Pay the required application fee.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Have your photograph taken.
  • Give a fingerprint.


As soon as you pass your written test, you will be issued a permit.

The Provisional instruction permits are not valid until the instruction permit is signed by a licensed or authorized driving instructor.

A parent, guardian, spouse or adult 25 years of age or older, who has a valid California driver license, must be with you when you drive. He or she must sit in the front seat in order to take control of the vehicle, if necessary. It is illegal for you to drive alone at any time.

Driver Training must consist of at least:

  • 6 hours of driver training.
  • The driver training cannot exceed two hours per day. If you are in the car and observing another driver, that time does not count toward the 6 hours you need for the required behind-the-wheel driver training.

Note: A provisional instruction permit is valid only if the teen is taking a driver training class and his/her permit is signed by the instructor.

Complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving. It will take more than 15 minutes of practice time every day for six months to complete 50 hours of practice driving, of which at least 10 hours must be night driving practice. You (the parent) and the instructor must sign the statement on your teen’s permit certifying that he/she has completed the supervised training. The signed permit must be returned to DMV before the driving test may be taken.

Note: What you teach your teen should agree with what is taught by the driving instructor. If your teen states that your instructions are different from the instructor’s, contact the instructor to be sure you are correct.

Your teen must “hold” his/her permit longer (six months) than other drivers and practice the driving skills listed in this guide before he/she can come to the DMV for the driving test.

Learn From The Pros!


6 Hours


3 Days

State Minimum for Minors

3 x 2 Hour Lessons

Car Controls + Stop/Start

Overhand Maneuver

Three Point Turn

Residential U-turn

Parking & Reversing

10 Hours


5 Days


5 x 2 Hour Lessons

Car Controls + Stop/Start

Overhand Maneuver

Three Point Turn

Residential U-turn

Parking & Reversing

14 Hours


7 Days

Freeway + Parallel Parking

7 x 2 Hour Lessons

Car Controls + Stop/Start

Overhand Maneuver

Three Point Turn

Residential U-turn

Parking & Reversing


Top 10 Reasons for Failing

If your teen fails his or her driving test, he/she must wait two weeks before taking another test. Learn what are the top 10 reasons for failing the drive test. READ MORE >>


After you pass your driving test, you will be issued a provisional driver license. With your provisional driver license, you must be accompanied and supervised by a licensed parent, guardian or other licensed driver 25 years of age or older, or by a licensed or certified driving instructor when you:

  • Transport passengers under 20 years of age at any time, for the first twelve months.
  • Drive between 11 pm and 5 am for the first twelve months.

This means you cannot give anyone under 20 years old (your friends, your brother(s), sister(s), cousin(s), etc.) a ride unless you have a licensed parent, a guardian or other adult 25 years old or older in the car with you. You are also not allowed to drive between 11 pm and 5 am during your first year after getting your license unless you have a licensed parent, a guardian or other adult 25 years old or older in the car with you. With a provisional license, you can drive by yourself between the hours of 5 am and 11 pm. If you are under 18, you cannot be employed to drive a motor vehicle. When you turn 18 years of age, the provisional part of your license ends. You may continue to drive as an adult using your photo license, which will expire on your 5th birthday after the date you applied.

Effective January 1, 2006, these driving restrictions apply to you if you are under the age of 18 and:

  • Are issued a provisional driver license (DL) on or after January 1, 2006, or
  • Already hold a provisional DL issued on or after January 1, 2005.

To determine if these restrictions apply to you, look at the date on your driver license. The date printed just to the left of your photograph is the date these restrictions begin. The new restrictions apply for 12 months following this date. 

For example: If the date on your license is May 7, 2005, you will have the above restrictions through May 7, 2006. Violation of either restriction can result in a fine and/or community service.

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