Permit to License: A Simple Guideline for Teen Drivers By Jane Park

Getting a driver’s license has long been a rite of passage for teens. For many, driving is the first step toward independence.

It is important to learn how to drive because most people use cars to travel to work, home and anywhere else. Driving is not difficult and you can master it after hours of practice.


The first step of your driving journey starts with taking the written permit test. In order to take the test, you must be 15 ½ years old, complete a Driver's Education course and complete the Driver License & ID Card Application (DL 44/eDL 44) form, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Set an appointment or drop in at a convenient time at your local DMV to take your written test. Once there, you will be led to a room or section of the DMV which has computers for every person who needs to take the test.

If you fail the test, you must wait one week, not including the day the test was failed, before retaking the test.


Once you pass your written test, you will receive a driver's permit and handbook. From then, you can schedule your mandatory six hours of driver's instructor lessons, if you're between 15 and 18 years old. In order to earn your license, the state of California requires you to take at least six hours of in-car driving lessons with a licensed driving instructor in a DMV-approved program.

Unfortunately, driver's lessons are mandatory if you are a teenager. The prices can vary for each company you look at. The Bay Area Driving Academy charges $145 for two hours, while Jump 2 Drive charges $135 for two drivers. You need to have a total of 6 hours of lessons in order to get your license if you are under 18 years old.

After your first driver's lesson, you are allowed to begin to practice driving with your parents/guardians. Your permit is not valid until you begin driver training; your instructor will sign the permit to validate it.

After you complete your 6 hours of lessons, you should receive a form like this one. Take this form with you for your driver's test.

You are required to complete 50 hours of supervised driving practice (10 hours must be night driving) before taking your "behind the wheel" driving test. You must practice with a licensed California driver: parent, guardian, driving instructor, spouse, or adult 25 years old or older. The person must sit close enough to you to take control of the vehicle at any time. A provisional permit does not allow you to drive alone at any time, not even to a DMV field office to take a driving test.

If you feel nervous about taking your driving test, you can take a practice DMV test with the corporation you received lessons from. Again, prices can vary.

If you fail the driving test, you must pay a retest fee, schedule a following test, and wait 2 weeks, not including the day the test was failed before you are retested. If you fail the driving test 3 times, the application is no longer valid and you must reapply.


In 2006, California enacted laws that increasingly restrict what drivers under the age of 18 can do behind the wheel.

After a teen completes and passes the driving test, they are granted a provisional license which restricts the driver from transporting passengers under 20 years of age at any time for the first 12 months, 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. If you are under 18, you cannot be employed to drive a motor vehicle.

When you become 18 years old, or you have your license for a year, the “provisional” part of your driver's license ends. You may keep your provisional photo driver's license or pay a fee for a duplicate driver's license without the word “provisional.”

Here is an example of what your driver's permit and license should look like.


There are a few exceptions to the provisional license rules.

1. It is okay for a teen with a provisional license to drive against these regulations when there is a medical necessity to drive and reasonable transportation alternatives are inadequate. The note must be signed by a physician with the diagnosis and probable date of recovery.

2. If there is a school-authorized activity. The note must be signed by the school principal, dean, or designee.

3. Employment necessity and the need to operate a vehicle as part of your employment. The note must be signed by the employer verifying employment.

4. The necessity to drive an immediate family member. A note signed by your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) is required, stating the reason and probable end date of the necessity to drive the immediate family member.


Breaking the provisional license restrictions has a variety of consequences.

A 30-day restriction will be placed on the teen's license if he or she receives two or more points for violations in one year. Three or more points nets a teen a six-month suspension and a one-year probation. If the teen violates probation, the suspension can extend beyond his or her 18th birthday. Additionally, community service hours or fines will be imposed for violating certain provisions.


1. Violations of provisional license restrictions are secondary offenses: _olice officers cannot pull over teenage drivers, if they are otherwise driving legally. However, they may stop them to see if teens are violating their license restrictions when they are pulled over for any other reason, such as speeding. Two tickets may then be issued: one for speeding and one for violating the license restrictions.

2. Insurance can rise as a consequence of accidents: If a teenage driver gets involved in an accident while violating their license restriction, they may still be covered. Violating a license restriction may also not cause an increase in insurance costs, since it does not incur points. However, the primary offense of getting into an accident and receiving a ticket for that often will increase insurance costs.

3. There is a reason for all these rules: According to The Traffic Ticket Attorneys, teenagers represent almost 20 percent of all driving fatalities even though they make up only four percent of all drivers. Sixty-six percent of all fatal accidents that teens are in are deemed the teenage driver’s fault. The death risk for a teenage driver is three times as high as it is for older drivers.

4. The liability of an accident falls to your parents. A parent or guardian must sign for a minor to get a license and when they do, they are accepting financial responsibility. Under California law, that means carrying the following minimum monetary limits:

-$15,000 for injury or death of 1 person per accident

-$30,000 for injury or death of 2 or more persons per accident

-$5,000 for any property damage per accident

Created By
Jane Park


Jane Park