What Is the Driving Age in California?

concept of driving age in california

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One of the most exciting moments for teenagers is the moment they can get their driver’s license. The freedom that comes with being able to drive yourself around is unparalleled, especially at that age. For parents and teens who aren’t familiar with the process, you may wonder, what is the driving age in California? Below you will find all of the information you need to be sure your teen is safely driving with their very own driver’s license.

What Is the Driving Age in California?

The minimum driving age in California is 15 ½ years old for a Graduated Driver’s License. The Graduated Driver’s License program was established in the late 90s to reduce the high rate of teen car accidents. Car accidents are the second leading cause of death among young drivers so the program was intended to improve the safety of teens behind the wheel. In addition to the graduated driver’s license, the standard unrestricted driver’s license is also available. Drivers must be 18 to apply for that specific license.

Graduated Driver’s License

The Graduated Driver License program helps teens get the necessary education and driving experience. This is done before they gain full driving privileges and often consists of three stages. The three stages include the instruction permit stage, the provisional license stage, and the full license stage.

Instruction Permit Requirements

Drivers under 18 need to complete the Graduated Driver License program through the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The program limits drivers’ privileges throughout various stages before they are granted a standard unrestricted driver’s license. In order to get your instructional permit in California, you must meet the following requirements.

  • Must be 15 ½ years old
  • Complete the Driver’s License & ID Application form (including your parent’s signature)
  • Provide an acceptable identification document
  • Pay the required application fee
  • Pass the vision and knowledge test
  • If you are under 17 ½ years old

Knowledge Test:

Preparing for the knowledge test can be done by studying the California Driver Handbook. You cannot miss more than 8 questions on the test. If you do miss more than 8 questions you are permitted three chances to pass the exam. If you are unable to pass after you retake the exam, there is a 7-day waiting period before you can take the exam again.

Instructional Permit Limitations:

A provisional instruction permit is not valid until you begin your driver training program at a driving school in California. This must be signed by a certified driving instructor. Once these requirements are met you can begin driving with a parent, guardian, or licensed California driver that is 25 years or older. However, you cannot drive alone with just a provisional instruction permit.

Provisional License Requirements

The next stage in the process of getting your driver’s license is obtaining your provisional driver’s license. In order to get your provisional driver’s license in California, you must meet the following requirements.

  • Must be 16 years old
  • Have held a California instruction permit for at least 6 months
  • Provide proof of completion of the driver’s education program and training
  • Provide verification that you have completed 50 hours of supervised driving practice (including 10 hours of driving at
  • night) with your parent and instructor’s signatures
  • Pay the required application fee
  • Schedule (online) and pass your driving test

Driving Test:

If you fail your driving test you have to wait two weeks before you can take it again. You have three chances to pass it before you are required to reapply for your provisional driver’s license.

Provisional License Restrictions:

While you are able to drive alone with a provisional license, there are certain restrictions. For the first year you are not allowed to drive between 11pm and 5am. You cannot transport passengers under 20 years old unless you are accompanied by a parent, guardian, certified instructor, or licensed California driver who is at least 25 years old.

Full License Stage

Once you turn 18 years old, you now have a full driver’s license as the restrictions are dropped.

Driving School in California

Click2Drive Driving School offers training for both teens and adults in Southern California. If you need a certified California driving instructor to help you get your license, request an appointment online. They have helped countless people learn how to drive safely and obtain their licenses.

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