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Ultimate Guide for California Driver Ed Requirements

Traveling down California freeways and boulevards becomes a whole different experience when you move from the passenger seat over to the driver’s seat. Thousands of teenagers in the state get this life lesson when they take their first steps toward obtaining a full-fledged driver’s license.

But before teens can earn that first provisional driver’s license, they’ll have to complete some important coursework. Driver Education classes go over the most critical skills and knowledge new drivers will need. The goal is to keep young drivers from putting themselves and others in harm’s way.

Drivers under the age of 18 who want to qualify for a learner’s permit will need to log some class time and some road time at an approved Driving Training school.

Driver Ed Training Requirements for California Teens

Teen drivers in California are eligible to apply for an instructional permit (learner’s permit) at 15 ½ years old. But to be ready to apply on the first day they are eligible, teens will have to have done some prep work beforehand.

California requires young drivers to complete a driver education course that focuses on traffic codes and safety. They’ll take these courses either as a part of their High School curriculum or at a professional driving school. Any driving school attended must be licensed by the state. Any driving school’s curriculum must be preapproved. You can check a school’s eligibility with the DMV’s Occupational License Status Database.

Teens must show that they’ve studied a certain amount of hours to be up for an instructional permit. Hopeful drivers will have to have already completed:

  • 30 hours of professional classroom instruction (drivers ed),
  • OR 30 hours of semester periods,
  • Or a home study program,
  • Or an internet training program.

California Driver Ed Curriculum

California driver education courses are geared towards preventing teen drivers from getting traffic tickets and causing accidents. They get cited and cause more crashes than any other age group. The course curriculum includes lessons on traffic laws, road safety, driver responsibilities, and how to avoid accidents.

One thing teenagers can count on is watching a certain number of videos. A driver education course must feature at least 100 minutes of videos or films. Beware: These videos can show graphic accident scenes. Teens and parents can call the school to ask about the content of videos.

Students must complete 30 hours of classroom time, but it’s hard to estimate how many days or weeks a course will take. It will depend on the class schedules for the high school or the driving school. Teens or their parents may request a copy of the class schedule.

You can visit the California DMV website for more on the driver ed curriculum.

Driver Training Requirements for California Teens

There’s another step needed so that a teen can become the proud owner of a learner’s permit.

Book knowledge is great, but California wants teens to also have some real experience at the wheel. They must show they’ve completed at least six hours of behind-the-wheel training with a professional driving instructor.

If driver training is done at a high school additional wheel time may be required. Different high schools want students to get more practice time.

Driver training can’t exceed two hours a day. The time that teens spend watching other drivers won’t count towards their six-hour requirement.

These are just a few of the things the instructor will focus on during instruction:

  • Signaling to other drivers.
  • Backing up the vehicle.
  • Making left turns.
  • Right-of-way at intersections with traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Parallel parking and parking on hills.
  • Choosing the best lane for highway travel.
  • U-Turns.
  • Freeway driving.

If you want a better idea of what you or your children will need to study, check out the DMV Teen Driving Guide here.

Getting a California Instructional Permit

Teens who fulfill their driver education and driver training requirements are ready to file for a learner’s permit when they are 15 ½.

Here are the steps teens will take to secure a California instruction permit:

Hopeful drivers will pay an application fee during their DMV office visit. They’ll get a fingerprint scan and take a vision exam. A photograph will be taken. Proof of car insurance will be required.

Teens will take a knowledge test. This test can be taken online before the DMV visit. Failing the knowledge test will mean teens must wait seven days to take it again.

What Is Allowed After a Teen Driver Gets an Instruction Permit?

Teens with an instruction permit will always have company when they take the wheel. They should always have an experienced driver in the car with them. This is the time to instill good driving habits into your child.

These are some of the restrictions California places on drivers with learner’s permits:

  • Teens with instruction permits cannot drive alone at any time.
  • They are only allowed to practice driving with an adult in the passenger’s seat. The adult must be at least 25 years old.
  • The adult must be close enough to be able to take control of the vehicle if necessary.

Hopefully, you or your teenager will never have to worry about what happens after a scary accident. But if a crash occurs, you can find out how teen drivers are covered by checking out Maison Law’s Guide for Teens Who Get Into Accidents with a Learner’s Permit.

The Path to a California Provisional Driver’s License

Minors (under the age of 18) can’t apply for a provisional driver’s license until they’ve been practicing with a learner’s permit for at least 6 months.

Applicants must be at least 16 years old. They’ll need to show they’ve had 50 hours of road driving experience. Ten of those hours must have been logged after sundown.

There’s more information on how teens can secure a provisional license and, finally, a real California Driver’s License on Maison Law’s Ultimate Guide for Teen Driving Safety in California.

A word to parents and teens about accidents involving young drivers…

Even experienced drivers can wind up in bad accidents that weren’t their fault. Teens are at the same risk. No amount of caution can keep them completely protected from the careless motorists that travel California roads each day.

If you or your child are in a serious accident, talk over your options with a skilled California Car Accident Lawyer at Maison Law. Insurance companies can treat teen drivers unfairly and try to blame them for accidents they didn’t cause. Car insurance adjusters can also leave injured teenagers without the support they need to recover and get back on their feet.

Contact Maison Law for a free legal consultation on your accident. Tell us what happened to you or your teenage driver so that we can help you determine what your case is worth and how to force an auto insurance provider to offer fair compensation.

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