Drivers Ed in California
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Driver's Education in California
As part of the California Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program, the CA Department of Motor Vehicles requires all first-time teen drivers to complete an approved Driver's Ed course before obtaining a provisional permit, otherwise known as a learner's permit.
CA Driver's Education Eligibility Requirements
In California, you must be between 15 1/2 years old and 18 years old to get a provisional permit. In order to get this permit, you'll need to complete a state-approved Driver's Ed course and pass your written test.
NOTE: Contact your driver education provider for information about their minimum enrollment age.
If you are over 17 1/2 years old but under 18 years old, you may get your permit without a California driver education and driver training certificate; however, you will not be allowed to take the driving test until you turn 18 years old.
About Your California Driver's Ed Course
A driver's education course is a vital resource for anybody that aims to be a smarter, safer, and more responsible driver. California Driver's Ed teaches the principles of road awareness and safety for first-time teen drivers, and it can also serve as an excellent refresher for those who are more seasoned at being behind the wheel.
Many states, including California, require completion of CA Driver's Ed to obtain a driver's license. Several insurance companies also offer discounts to those who have completed an approved Driver's Ed course.
Your CA Driver's Ed course will:
- Cover the basic fundamentals of being a safe and responsible driver, including knowledge, attitudes, and driving skills necessary for the safe operation of a motor vehicle.
- Teach you pertinent laws in California, such as who has the right of way and proper stopping distance.
- Help you identify California state-specific road signs and know what they mean.
- Prepare you for the hazards and driving precautions that must be observed during dangerous conditions, emergency situations, construction zones, and railroad crossings.
The California DMV provides an online driver education curriculum. It can assist you with any questions you may have on a particular subject such as driving responsibilities, accidents, alcohol, drugs and California road signs.
Driver's Education Requirements in California
As part of your driver's education program, you must complete:
- 25 hours of classroom instruction.
- 6 hours of behind–the–wheel professional instruction.
NOTE: The 6 hours of behind-the-wheel driving instruction required for Driver's Ed does not count towards the 50 hours of supervised driving you'll need to complete later on in the California GDL process after you obtain your permit.
New to California?
If you are a new California resident and have taken Driver Education in a state other than California, it can count towards your CA requirements if you submit either a:
- To Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools (Form DL 33) completed by your former secondary school. This is available from your local DMV office or by calling (800) 777-0133. Send this form to your out–of–state secondary school for completion.
- Letter from your out–of state secondary school stating you have taken a Driver's Ed course equivalent to a California secondary school course (as described in Section 10020, Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations). The statement must:
- Be printed on the out–of–state secondary school's stationery.
- Signed by a school official.
A perfect complement to your CA Driver Ed course is preparing for the written exam by trying out a sample practice test. These study helpers have been developed from content sourced directly from the CA Driver Handbook.
The tests are close in length to the actual written exam, and you'll most certainly recognize some of the questions when you take the real thing. It's almost like having the answers before you take the test!
After Driver's Ed – What's Next?
Once you have successfully completed a state-approved California Driver's Ed course, you'll receive a certificate of completion. Your next step in the California GDL program is to take the written test to get your provisional permit.
For more information, refer to our Driver Permits in California page.