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Driver's Education in California

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Most new drivers in California are required to successfully complete a State-approved driver's education program in order to obtain a California driver's license. In fact, for many applicants, the driver's education certificate of completion is part of the actual driver's license application.

WHO MUST TAKE DRIVER'S EDUCATION

  • California residents under the age of 18 must hold a learner's permit till they turn 18, and also complete a State-approved driver's education program before applying for a new license.
  • California residents 17 years and 6 months old and older who have never held a license from California, or any other US state or foreign country, must hold a learner's permit for a minimum of six months, or complete a State-approved driver's education program before applying for a new license.

WHERE TO TAKE DRIVER'S EDUCATION

Driver's education courses are offered through both public and private school programs, all of which must be approved by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Driving schools, licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles, cover the same course content.

WHAT'S COVERED IN A DRIVER'S EDUCATION COURSE

While driver's education courses vary from one school to another, all licensed programs must include the following components:

  • Twenty-five hours of classroom training, focusing on issues including alcohol safety and drug abuse awareness, defensive driving, motorcycle awareness and organ and tissue donation; and five hours of films related to driver education.
  • In-car instruction sessions by a qualified instructor, including six hours of professional driver training.

After the successful completion of the driver's education course, your driving school will a send a copy of the completion certificate to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, after which you may be issued a permanent driver's license. Drivers under the age of 18 must have their certificate signed and authorized by a parent or legal guardian, who must certify that the student has had at least 50 hours of driving practice, including at least 10 evening or nighttime hours.

OPTIONAL PROGRAMS

In addition to the core requirements of a driver's education course, many driving schools in California offer optional programs that focus on particular aspects of driver education. Specialized courses include Auto Insurance Discount Courses or Defensive Driving courses, either of which may qualify students for a discount on auto insurance. These and other courses may also enable students to reduce points on their license, and/or get their license back sooner after a suspension. See our section on California driving schools for more information.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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