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Instruction Permit Requirements in California

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What the Provisional Instruction Permit Means

California drivers under 18 must obtain a provisional instruction permit before they can qualify for a provisional driver’s license. As long as the applicant are under 18, the permit and driver’s license are called provisional since they have restrictions that adults (18 and over) do not have.

To Obtain a California Instruction Permit

To obtain a provisional instruction permit new drivers must:

  • Be at least 15 1/2 years of age (and under 18).
  • Fill out the DMV application form (DL 44).
  • Get parents’ or guardians’ signatures on the application form.
  • Present acceptable documents establishing your identity, residency (if applicable), and birthdate.
  • Provide your full name and social security number.
  • Pay the required application fee.
  • Pass an eye exam.
  • Have your picture taken.
  • Give a thumb print.
  • Pass a written DMV test (You must correctly answer at least 38 questions out of 46)
  • Hold your permit for a minimum of 6 months before you apply for a provisional driver’s license.

If you are 17 1/2 years of age or younger, you must also show proof that you:

  • Completed driver education (Certificate of Completion of Driver Education) OR
  • Are enrolled and participating in an approved integrated driver education/driver training program (Certificate of Enrollment in an Integrated [Classroom] Driver Education and Driver Training Program).

An out-of-state driving instructional permit is not acceptable proof of driver education and driver training.

California Instruction Permit Rules

With a California provisional instruction permit, you must

  • Obey the traffic laws.
  • Drive without a collision.
  • Drive with your parent, guardian, spouse, or an adult 25 years of age or older, who has a valid California driver license.
  • Hold your permit for six months before you can take your driving test to get your driver license, which means you must be at least 16 years of age.
  • NOT use cell phones (even if hands-free) or other mobile electronic devices while driving.
  • Make sure that all passengers use permanently installed seat belts.

You Cannot Drive Alone

Note that it is illegal for permit holder to drive alone at any time. A parent, guardian, spouse or adult 25 years of age or older, who has a valid California driver license, must sit in the front seat at all times in order to take control of the vehicle, if necessary.

Unlike some other states, there is no curfew restrictions for California permit holders and no restrictions in number of passengers.

California Graduated Driver’s License Law

Learn more about California graduated driver’s license system here: What is California Graduated Driver’s License?

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