California Driver Licensing Law

Obtaining a California Provisional Permit

To be eligible to apply for a provisional permit in California, the applicant must be at least 15 years and six months old, yet under 18. The following information is required when applying at a Department of Motor Vehicle office:

  • A completed DL 44 application form with signatures from parents or guardians
  • Social Security Number
  • Proof of birthdate, residency and true full name
  • The application fee

If between 15 ½ and 17 ½, a Certificate of Completion of Driver Education is also required.

The applicant must then pass a vision exam and a traffic law and sign test. Once the tests have been passed, a provisional permit will be issued. Under this permit, a parent, guardian, spouse or adult 25 years or older with a valid California driver license must always be present when driving and in a position close enough to take control of the vehicle if necessary. During the first six months, it is illegal to drive alone at any time.

Upon turning 16, if the driver has held their provisional permit for six months, completed driver education, had six hours of professional driver training and completed 50 hours of practice with a licensed adult over 25 years old, ten at night, the driver will become eligible to take the California driving test.


A driver could face fines and penalties if any of the restrictions are broken during the provisional licensing phase. Penalties include:

  • Community service for no less than eight hours and up to 16 hours for a first offense, and between 16 and 24 hours for any subsequent offense; and
  • A minimum fine of $35 for a first offense and $50 thereafter

During the provisional phase, certain penalties will be levied if receiving moving (point) violations. These penalties include:

  • A 30-day period during which the restricted driver must be accompanied by a licensed driver 25 years or older
  • A suspension from driving for six months and a one year probation if the driver receives 3 or more points during a 12 month period

California Provisional Driver License

Once the driving test has been passed, applicants will receive a provisional driver license. For license holders under 18, two restrictions apply for the first year. If not accompanied and supervised by a licensed parent, guardian or other licensed driver 25 years or older, the driver may not:

  • Transport passengers under 20 years old at any time
  • Drive between 11 PM and 5 AM unless a medical emergency or a necessity for school, employment or an immediate family member. A signed note indicating the necessity by the proper authority must be carried at all times.

The provisional part of the license ends with the driver's 18th birthday.

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

Note: Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. This information is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, although if you are injured in an accident, we have relationships with other personal injury attorneys and lawyers throughout the United States.