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California Drivers Education

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To drive in California, you must be at least 15.5 years old and finish 25 hours of classroom lessons. You must also complete an additional 6 hours of behind-the-wheel driving.

Testing and Preparing to Drive

To become a driver in California, you must be at least 15.5 years old or older. If you are between 15.5 years old and 18 years old, you will receive a provisional learner’s permit. The DMV issues this permit only after completing the California state-approved Driver’s Ed course. Since you will also need to pass a CA DMV written test, you may want to practice with an online DMV practice test. If you happen to fail, you will need to wait at least 1 week to retake it.

Those who are older than 17.5 years old but under 18 years old are able to get a CA learner’s permit without a California driver ed and driving training permit. The driving test with this permit is unavailable until the person turns 18 years old.

Graduated Driver License

California does have a graduated driver’s license program. There are three stages:

  • 1) Stage I: Learner’s permit
  • 2) Stage II: Provisional license
  • 3) Stage III: Full license

There are restrictions during each stage. For example, at Stage I, the driver must drive with an adult who is at least 25 in the vehicle and needs to have 50 hours of driving practice. They need to take California driver’s education as well.

Stage II is for teen drivers between 16 years old and 18 years old. This CA driver license allows them to drive without an adult in the vehicle. However, this license prohibits any passengers under 20 years old in the vehicle for the first year. These drivers also may not drive between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Stage III is a full CA driver’s license, but teen drivers are still unable to drive between 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. They are also not allowed to transport young passengers without having an adult present in the vehicle. Those limits last until the driver is 20 years old or after 1 year of driving.

CA Mature Driver Improvement Program

The California DMV allows for a mature driver improvement program that is designed for drivers who are 55 years old and older. The mature driver improvement courses are designed to provide instruction on:

  • CA traffic laws and regulations.
  • The effects of age, alcohol, fatigue and medication on the ability to drive.
  • California’s updates to the rules on the road.
  • Defensive driving.

Those who complete the California experienced driver program may be able to qualify for lower insurance rates. Insurance companies are able to select how much they reduce a driver’s rate. Generally it is up to 15% off and you can renew every 3 years.

The mature driver course takes at least 400 minutes of instruction in person initially. Renewal courses require 240 minutes. Each course ends with a completion certificate. It is valid for up to 3 years in California. Then, the course may be taken again to renew that certificate in the future.

This program is $30 with a $1 charge for the certificate of completion from the DMV.

Defensive Driving Courses

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Defensive driver training (DDT) was designed to help reduce the total number of collisions in California. It was also designed to help reduce the severity and cost of any vehicle-related collisions.

There are four defensive driving courses, and all of them are free of charge to state agencies. These include:

  • Defensive driver training online
  • Behind-the-wheel training
  • One-on-one training
  • Van driver training

You may be eligible to take an online traffic school to reduce the points on your CA driving record. However, you will need to check with the court in the county where you received your traffic ticket. They will be able to let you know if you can take the traffic school course for this reason.

Last Verified:
Mar 30, 2023