(916) 409-3041

570 5th Street, Suite 180, Lincoln CA 95648​
DMV Licensed #2036 - Bonded - Insured​​​

Starting your behind the wheel driving lessons

So, you're ready to get a driver's license and you need to know what has to be done.  The procedures can be daunting and confusing, so we're here to help you with that!  Procedures are different depending on your age at the time you apply, so we've provided a full checklist for each age group. 

If you are between 15 1/2 and 17 1/2 at the time you obtain your permit, DMV requires that you complete both Driver's Education and Driver's Training in order to get your driver's license.  So, what's the difference between them?  Glad you asked!   You must complete a Driver Education course before DMV will issue a Driving Learner's Permit.  Driver Education consists of the student studying "classroom" curriculum established by the DMV and passing a written test to show that you understand the curriculum.  You can attend a class in person, but most people complete both the classwork and the test online.  The school then issues you a DMV form to prove that you completed the course.  You will have to provide that form to the DMV when you submit your permit application.  They will not issue you a permit without it.   There is a separate rules of the road test that DMV administers when you apply for your permit in person.  We've provided a button below that will take you to the website of one of our favorite online Driver Education schools that will give you a great discounted rate.  You can use them, or find your own, whichever you prefer.

Over 18 years old

over 18 and new to california

A Driving School provides behind the wheel instruction.  The industry standard is for each professional lesson to be two hours long.  A minimum of six hours of professional instruction is required for permit applicants wishing to obtain their driver's license before they reach age 18, but professional driving instruction is strongly suggested for everyone applying for their first drivers license.  Is six hours enough?  We all learn at different rates.  Factors to consider are such things as the comfort level that the student has behind the wheel, and how much driving experience that they get on their own once they have their permit.  The new driver needs to feel confident with all facets of driving.  If they aren't, the probabilities are high that they may not pass their DMV driving test and/or that they may be involved in a collision within the first year of driving.  We recommend that parents watch their teen driver's body language to see how they're handling everything.  You may want to consider either working more with them yourself, or invest in their safety by scheduling additional professional instruction.  The student needs to think about how prepared they feel they are...both to pass the DMV driving test, and to safely interact with other drivers without getting into a collision.  

Ready to buckle in and get the best in behind the wheel training?  Click on the button below and you can select from a number of professional instruction options.

how do i get my driver's license

To answer the bulk of your questions about the driver's license process, just read below for a full list of everything that DMV requires.  We've supplied links that will take you to such things as the web page to make your DMV appointments.  Just click on the colored text to take you to the correct page.  Outside web pages are often changed, so if you run into a "broken" hyperlink, please let us know by using our CONTACT US page.  To get the information straight from the source, go to www.dmv.ca.gov.  Feel free to CONTACT US to ask us for any clarification that you may need.  We look forward to serving you!

under 18 years old

​If you are coming in from out of state and you already have a driver's license, please see "Over 18 and New to California".

Before we get started, we feel that we need to have that tough talk that you may not want to hear, but there's too much riding on your decision for us not to say something.  DMV says that, because you're an adult, you're not required to complete either Driver's Education or Driver Training.  You don't even have to have a learner's permit for a minimum amount of time, or practice driving for a minimum number of hours before you are allowed to have a license.  The only requirements that they have is that you pass a traffic law and sign test and you have to take a DMV behind the wheel driving test.  It is under, what we believe, a rather insane theory that somehow you magically know everything there is to know about driving because, well, you're an adult, right?  Um, no.  Adults need to learn about driving just as much as teen drivers do.  Every day can be a risky situation just getting onto the freeway.  The insanity you experience and see out there on our roads is our system failing to make sure that adults know how to drive, and thousands pay with their lives every year because of it.  Do you have to take driver education or behind the wheel driver training if you're an adult?  No.  But what you need to understand is that you are liable, monetarily and criminally, for everything that happens when you're at the wheel of that 2-ton rocket you're driving.  Legal jargon like "Vehicular Manslaughter" starts getting thrown around and jail terms can result if you do something to cause a collision that kills another person and where you should have known that what you did was illegal, negligent, and/or dangerous.  When you turn 18, the court says that you should have known because ignorance for an adult is no excuse.  There is no "I didn't know" or "nobody told me that" or "I'm just a kid" defense.  You're an adult with adult consequences, so if you think that it's easier & cheaper not to get the training, that decision is totally on you.  Can you take the training even if it's not required?  Absolutely.  Whether it's from us or another company, yes, we absolutely believe you should.  But that's your call.  You're going to be the one that's held responsible if things go totally wrong.  Okay, enough said.


​So, what do I have to do to get my license?

To apply for an original California driver license, if you are over 18, you will need to do the following:

A. Make an appointment online or at 1-800-777-0133.  Appointments are required for all first-time driver license/permit applications.  Walk-ins are only accepted at DMV Driver License Processing Centers.

B. Complete application form DL 44 (An original DL 44 form must be submitted. Copies will not be accepted.)  To obtain a DL 44 form ahead of time so that you can fill it out at home (great idea to same time at the DMV), call DMV's Automated Telephone Service at 1-800-777-0133 (available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week) to have a form mailed to you or visit your local DMV office to pick one up.  Click here for a sample DL 44 form with sample entries.

C. Give a thumb print

D. Have your picture taken

E. Provide your social security number.  It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.

F. Verify your birth date and legal presence.  See "Documents Required to Apply for a Driver License"  If your current name no longer matches the name on your birth data/legal presence document, see "Requirements for a California Driver's License"

G. Provide your true full name (Never use any other name than what is on your legal identity documents such as your birth certificate, marriage certificate, or court document establishing a change to your name, regardless of how much you like your favorite nickname or despise your legal name.  It is a crime to provide false information on a government identification application.)

H. Pay the application fee

I. Pass a vision exam

J. Pass a traffic laws and sign test. There are 36 questions on the test. You have three chances to pass.   Click here for sample tests.

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing, DMV will not administer written or audio exams after 4:30 p.m.

You will then be issued a learner's permit if you have never been licensed before.  As its name implies, the permit allows you to learn to drive behind the wheel to prepare for your DMV driving test.  DMV does not require a specific period of time for you to have a permit before you take your driver's test.  

You will be required to be issued a permit and take a driving test if you have:

- never been licensed in any state or you hold a foreign country license.
- been licensed in another state or US territory, but do not have the license to surrender.
- a vision-related problem.
- a limited term license for specified physical and mental (P&M) conditions.
- a physical condition (except corrective lenses) and DMV imposes a restriction, or if you are currently restricted and you request that the restriction be removed.
- an out-of-state junior, provisional, or probationary license.

When you practice for your driving test, you must have your learner's permit with you while driving, comply with any restrictions placed on you by DMV (usually these have to do with wearing glasses), and you must have an accompanying adult who is 18 years of age or older, with a valid California driver's license.  If this person's license is expired or suspended, it is illegal for you to drive, in which case you are subject to being cited for driving unlicensed, and your vehicle may be impounded.  The same penalties apply if the accompanying adult is sleeping while you're driving, or if that adult is determined by an officer to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs for the purposes of driving.  That is because the accompanying adult must be alert and functional to be able to monitor your driving and to be able take control of the vehicle (drive, even if it's from the passenger seat) at any time if necessary.  It is illegal for you to drive alone until after you have passed your DMV driving test and you are issued your driver's license.

The last step is to take your DMV Driver Test.  This is a behind the wheel test with a DMV evaluator sitting in your front passenger seat watching everything that you do...and don't do.  You cannot get a driver's license unless you pass this test.  We can help with that, too!  You can schedule an additional 2-hour lesson with us and use our car for taking your test.  We use the first 45 min to an hour for refresher training and driving skill practice, and then you can use our car for the test during the last hour of the lesson.  If you want to use our car for the test, you will have to work with us to determine a time when we have an instructor available.  This is not an easy task, so be prepared to be patient and flexible with your time/availability as we work through that process. This lesson is available separately, or as part of a multi-lesson package.


​To take your DMV driving test, you must:

Make a driving test appointment with the DMV.  (Driving tests are not given without an  appointment.)  You may 
make an appointment online, or you may call (800) 777-0133 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Provide proof of financial responsibility at the time of the test.


You have three chances to pass the driving test.  If you fail, you may practice for a while, then make another appointment. There is no waiting period, but you must make an appointment.  If you fail to successfully complete the driving test on the first attempt, you must pay a $6 fee for each additional driving test that is administered under a single application for an original or renewal driver license.

After you pass your driving test you will be issued an interim license valid for 90 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail. Double-check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or if your address is incorrect.  If you have not received your license after 60 days, call (800) 777-0133 and they can check on the status for you. Have your interim license with you when you call to provide information from it when requested.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

1. All written exams must be taken before 4:30 p.m. so you are not rushed when taking the test. DMV wants you to pass your test. Study the DMV's
Driver License Handbook and make use of the practice tests.

2. When you sign your application for an instruction permit/driver license, you agree to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol or drug content of your blood when required by a peace officer.  If you refuse to sign this statement on your driver license application, DMV will not issue a permit or license.

Note: The source for the above information is derived from the DMV website, the California Vehicle Code, and case law.​

ELITE DRIVING SCHOOL

​If you are a visitor in California and have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state license remains valid.  If you're in the military, you are stationed in California, and hold a driver's license from your home state, you may drive in California as long as your out-of-state license remains valid. Contact the DMV or equivalent agency in your state for the extension or renewal procedure for military personnel and their families.


If you become a California resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days of establishing residency.  Residency is established by your principal residence (house, apartment, or other living quarters) being located within California, voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner's property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents. 

So, welcome to California!  But, with that welcome comes a friendly heads-up...things can be a bit weird here compared to where you moved in from.  When you come into California and are licensed in another state, DMV assumes that you have already had all the driving education that you need and, since you're still alive and not wanted for vehicular manslaughter in another state, DMV assumes that you're good to go.  Are you?  Are you familiar enough with the differences in California laws and road systems to where you feel safe around California drivers?  We encourage all drivers who are either new drivers, or who are new to California, to take a Driver Education course (an inexpensive online course) and at least one 2-hour Driving School behind-the-wheel lesson whether it's from us or another school.  After all, you just got here...we don't want to lose you in a car crash!


​​To apply for an original California driver license if you are over 18, you will need to do the following:

A. Make an appointment before visiting a DMV office (walk-ins are only accepted at the Driver License Processing Centers).

B. Complete application form
DL 44 (An original DL 44 form must be submitted. Copies will not be accepted.)

C. Give a thumb print

D. Have your picture taken

E. Provide your social security number.  It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.

F. Verify your birth date and legal presence.  If your current name no longer matches the name on your birth data/legal presence document, see "
True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.

G. Provide your true full name (Never use any other name than what is on your birth certificate, marriage certificate, or court document establishing a change to your name, regardless of how much you like your favorite nickname or despise your legal name.  It is a crime to provide false information on a government identification application.)

H. Pay the application fee

I. Pass a vision exam

J. Pass a traffic laws and sign test. There are 36 questions on the test. You have three chances to pass.


Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing DMV will not administer written or audio exams after 4:30 p.m.

You will then be issued a permit if you have never been licensed before. When you practice, you must have an accompanying adult who is 18 years of age or older, with a valid California license. If this person's license is expired or suspended, or if that person is determined by an officer to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs for the purposes of driving, it is illegal for you to drive, in which case you are subject to being cited for driving unlicensed, and your vehicle may be impounded.  The accompanying adult must be close enough to you to take control of the vehicle if necessary.  It is illegal for you to drive alone.

If you have a license from another country, you will be required to take a driving test.  If you have a license from another state or US territory, the driving test can be waived if you have a driver's license to surrender to the California DMV.

​​If you need to take the driving test, we can help with that, too!  You can schedule an additional 2-hour lesson with us and use our car for taking your test.  We use the first 45 min to an hour for refresher training and driving skill practice, and then you can use our car for the test during the last hour of the lesson.  If you want to use our car for the test, you will have to work with us to determine a time when we have an instructor available.  This is not an easy task, so be prepared to be patient and flexible with your time/availability as we work through that process. This lesson is available separately, or as part of a multi-lesson package.


​To take your driving test, you MUST:

Make a driving test appointment online, or by calling (800) 777-0133 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, to make a driving test appointment.  Driving tests are not given without an appointment.

Provide proof of financial responsibility at the time of the test.


You have three chances to pass the driving test.  If you fail, you may practice for a while, then make another appointment. There is no waiting period, but you must make an appointment. If you fail to successfully complete the driving test on the first attempt, you must pay a $6 fee for each additional driving test that is administered under an application for an original or renewal driver license.

After you pass your driving test you will be issued an interim license valid for 90 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail. Double-check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or if your address is incorrect. If you have not received your license after 60 days, call (800) 777-0133 and they can check on the status for you. Have your interim license with you to provide information when requested.

If your name is different on your birth date and/or legal presence document than the one you are currently using, you will also need to provide an additional acceptable document to establish your true full name, such as; a marriage certificate, dissolution of marriage, adoption or name change document that shows your current name.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

1. All written exams must be taken before 4:30 p.m. so you are not rushed when taking the test. DMV wants you to pass your test. Study the handbook and make use of the practice tests and driving knowledge tutorial.

2. When you sign your application for an instruction permit/driver license, you agree to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol or drug content of your blood when required by a peace officer. If you refuse to sign this statement on your driver license application, DMV will not issue a permit or license.

Note: The source for the above information is derived from the DMV website and the California Vehicle Code.​

​1. Complete a Driver's Education Course

This will not be necessary if you are over age 17 1/2 and you plan on waiting until you turn 18 to take your DMV driving test and you can skip to Step 2.  The school will supply you with the proper form that DMV requires to prove that you successfully completed the course.  You will have to have that form and present it to DMV at the time you apply for your permit, or it will not be issued.  Click on the green button below to get a great discounted price from our favorite online Driver Education School!  No classroom to attend!  Just complete the course online at your own pace and they'll mail you your completion certificate.  Easy! 


2.  Apply for your permit at the DMV

Permits are valid for one year.  Drivers over 17 1/2 years of age are required to have a permit at least until they are 18 years of age and until they pass their DMV driving test.

Drivers under age 17 1/2 are required to have a permit for a minimum of six months after it is validated by a professional driving instructor.  The permit is NOT valid for the student to drive until the permit is validated.  

Appointments are required for all first-time driver license/driving permit applications at the DMV. You can
Make An Appointment online or by calling (800) 777-0133.

While at the DMV office, you will be required to:

A. Complete and submit an original application form DL 44 (Only an original DL 44  form will be accepted.   Copies obtained by xeroxing, faxing, or other methods will not be accepted).  You can obtain this form to complete it ahead of time.  To obtain a DL 44 form prior to your DMV appointment, call DMV's Automated Telephone Service at 1-800-777-0133 (available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week) to have a form mailed to you, or visit your local DMV office to pick one up.  Click to get a
 Sample DL 44 form with sample entries. 

B. Provide your social security number on the DL 44.  It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.

C. Have both of your parents' or guardians' signatures on the DL 44 application form.

D. Give a thumb print

E. Have your picture taken

F. Bring your original birth certificate or a certified copy. If you are not a US-born citizen, you must provide proof that you are a legal US resident.

G. Provide your full legal name.  Don't enter nicknames regardless of how much you may dislike your real name, or how much you like being called something else.  Falsification of a government identification document is a serious offense.

H. Submit the proper form showing proof of completion of driver education classes (see above).  This is not required if you are over 17 1/2 years of age and you are not going to take your DMV driving test until you turn 18.

I. Pay the application fee.  This fee entitles you to three exams of any type within the 12-month period and pays for both the permit and the driver license. If all requirements are not met within the 12-month period, the application becomes void and all steps must be completed again.

J. Pass a vision exam

K. Pass a traffic laws and sign test. You must get at least 38 questions right out of 46.  If you fail a test you must wait 7 days before taking the test again. If you fail the test 3 times, you must start over by filling out a new DL 44.  
Click Here for sample tests.

3. Driving School
Driving School is not required if you are over 17 1/2 years of age and do not plan on taking a DMV driving test until after you turn 18, though it is very highly recommended anyway.  Before you make that decision, we would recommend that you review the the very important information for Drivers Over 18, to the right.   Once you have made that critical decision about whether to take professional driving lessons, go to Step 4.

For those under 17 1/2, California law requires that you complete six hours of professional behind-the-wheel driver training.  The industry standard is for each professional lesson to be two hours long, for a total of three lessons.  Driver Training cannot be completed in California until the student has been issued their Provisional Instruction Permit by completing the above steps.  Provisional instruction Permits are not valid (you may not drive with your parent, guardian, or adult over 25 years old) until you have completed your first two-hour professional Driver Training lesson and the permit is signed by a licensed  driving instructor.  The Driver Training instructor can only sign off your permit if the instructor feels that you have a firm understanding of the basics of driving.  Until the instructor signs the permit, you can't drive without a professional driving instructor in the car with you.


4. Next step: DRIVE TO LEARN
Students over age 17 1/2 are required to drive in accordance with the conditions of their permit until they turn age 18 and successfully pass their DMV driving test.   Once they turn 18, they may take their DMV driving test whenever they feel they are ready (see Step 5, below).

Students under age 17 1/2 are required to have a driving permit for a minimum of six months before being eligible to obtain their California Driver License.  Once their permit is validated by a licensed professional driving instructor, the student must work on getting at least 50 hours of non-professional driving time (driving with their parent, guardian, or other adult 25 years of age or more), 10 hours of which is required to be during hours of darkness. Driving during the student's permit period is critical to their safety once they're on their own.  

The remaining two professional lessons should be spread out over the six month driving permit period.  They should never be scheduled consecutively just for the sake of "getting them out of the way".  We at Elite Driving School recommend that you get between 20-25 hours of practice before you schedule the second lesson.  Ideally, the professional lessons should be tailored to meet the student's needs.  Everybody learns at a different pace and each has potential skill development needs that won't surface until after they've practiced driving with their parent/guardian.  We strive for communication with the parent.  At the end of each professional lesson, the instructor will communicate with the parents/guardians about how the student did and what needs to be worked on before the next lesson.  The instructor may also suggest a time frame for the next lesson.  That is why it is very important for the parent's email address to be on the online scheduling form.  Conversely, we would like to know any issues that the parent is noticing so that we can work with the student to resolve them.  

As you approach the end of the six month permit period, in comes the reality of your teen soon having a license to drive on their own.  This is where the parent needs to really focus on evaluating how prepared the teen is...not for just passing their DMV driving test, but how prepared they are to be out there on their own.  Watch their body language as well as their driving habits.  You have up to a year to drive on the permit before you would have to re-apply, so we'd suggest not rushing it.  If they're not ready, they're not ready.  There's no shame in that.  You can work with them yourself, or you can invest in their safety and get a few more professional driving lessons under their belt. Sometimes a stranger is more effective as an instructor because of parent-child stress.  Maybe there's not enough time in the parent's day to get the kind of driving time in that they really need.  There's no shame in that, either. It's just the world we live in.  The most important thing is to prepare your teen to be as safe as they can be.


​5. Your Last Step: Take Your DMV Driving Test
We can help with that, too!  You can schedule an additional 2-hour lesson with us and use our car for taking your test.  We use the first 45 min to an hour for refresher training and driving skill practice, and then you can use our car for the test during the last hour of the lesson.  If you want to use our car for the test, you will have to work with us to determine a time when we have an instructor available.  This is not an easy task, so be prepared to be patient and flexible with your time/availability as we work through that process. This lesson is available separately, or as part of a multi-lesson package.

To take your DMV driving test, you will need to:

Make a driving test appointment online or by calling 800-777-0133 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.  Driving tests are not administered without an appointment.  The DMV suggests that you try to make a morning appointment.

You must be in compliance with any DMV-imposed driving permit restrictions (for example, you must be wearing any required corrective lenses).

You must provide your permit and the vehicle's proof of financial responsibility to the DMV test proctor at the time of the test.  DMV may otherwise refuse to allow you test and you will have to reschedule the appointment.

Make sure that your Driving School instructor has signed off on the permit.

Make sure that your parent has signed off on the permit, certifying that you completed the 50 hours of non-professional driving time.

Bring an adult at least 25 years old with a valid driver license.

​​Be sure you are thoroughly familiar with the vehicle you use for the driving test. You must know where all the controls are located and how to use them. 

If you fail your driving test, you must wait two weeks and pay a retest fee before you can take the test again. You have three chances to pass.​

After you pass your driving test you will be issued an interim driver license valid for 90 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail. Check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or if your address is incorrect.  You must have your interim license with you while you are driving and present it to any law enforcement officer on request.

​OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

1. All written exams must be taken before 4:30 p.m. so you are not rushed when taking the test. DMV wants you to pass your test.  Study the handbook and make use of the practice tests.

2. When you sign your application for an instruction permit/driver license, you agree to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol or drug content of your blood when required by a peace officer. If you refuse to sign this statement on your driver license application, DMV will not issue a permit or license.