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California Speed Limit Laws

California Driving Laws

Speed Limits

California has a “Basic Speed Law.” This law means that you may never drive faster than is safe for current conditions. For example, if you are driving 45 mph in a 55 mph speed zone during a dense fog, you could be cited for driving “too fast for conditions.”

Regardless of the posted speed limit, your speed should depend on:

  • The number and speed of other vehicles on the road.
  • Whether the road surface is smooth, rough, graveled, wet, dry, wide, or narrow.
  • Bicyclists or pedestrians walking on the road’s edge or crossing the street.
  • Whether it is raining, foggy, snowing, windy, or dusty.


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Maximum Speed Limit

The maximum speed limit on most California highways is 65 mph. You may drive 70 mph where posted. Unless otherwise posted, the maximum speed limit is 55 mph on two-lane undivided highways and for vehicles towing trailers.

Other speed limit signs are posted for the type of roads and traffic in each area. All speed limits are based on ideal driving conditions. Construction zones usually have reduced speed zones.

High speed increases your stopping distance. The faster you go, the less time you have to avoid a hazard or collision. The force of a 60 mph crash is not just twice as great as a 30 mph crash; it’s four times as great!




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Reduced Speeds

Heavy Traffic or Bad Weather

You must drive slower when there is heavy traffic or bad weather. However, if you block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic by driving too slowly, you may be given a ticket. If you choose to drive slower than other traffic, do not drive in the “Number 1 lane” (the fast lane) (refer to “Choosing a Lane”). When traveling below the speed limit and another driver is close behind you and wishes to drive faster, always move to the right.

Towing Vehicles, Buses, or Large Trucks

When you tow a vehicle or trailer, or drive a bus or three or more axle truck, you must drive in the right hand lane or in a lane specially marked for slower vehicles. If no lanes are marked and there are four lanes or more in your direction, you may only drive in either of the two lanes closest to the right edge of the road.

Around Children

When driving within 500 to 1,000 feet of a school while children are outside or crossing the street, the speed limit is 25 mph unless otherwise posted. Also, if the school grounds have no fence and children are outside, never drive faster than 25 mph. Some school zones may have speed limits as low as 15 mph. Always drive more carefully near schools, playgrounds, parks, and residential areas because children may suddenly dart into the street. Also, many children have not yet developed the ability to judge speeds and distances well enough to cross streets safely when cars are moving fast.



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All vehicles must stop

California School Bus Stopped

Near schools, look for:

  • Bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • School safety patrols or school crossing guards. Be sure to obey their directions. For the crossing guard’s safety, allow him or her to safely get to the side of the road before driving ahead.
  • Stopped school buses and children crossing the street. Some school buses flash yellow lights when preparing to stop to let children off the bus. The yellow flashing lights warn you to slow down and prepare to stop. When the bus flashes red lights (located at the top front and back of the bus), you must stop from either direction until the children are safely across the street and the lights stop flashing. The law requires you remain stopped as long as the red lights are flashing (CVC §22454). If you fail to stop, you may be fined up to $1,000 and your driving privilege could be suspended for one year. If the school bus is on the other side of a divided or multilane highway (two or more lanes in each direction), you do not need to stop.

Blind Intersections

The speed limit for a blind intersection is 15 mph. An intersection is considered “blind” if there are no stop signs at any corner and you cannot see for 100 feet in either direction during the last 100 feet before crossing. Trees, bushes, buildings, or parked cars at intersections can block your view to the side. If your view is blocked, edge forward slowly until you can see.

Alleys

The speed limit in any alley is 15 mph.

Near Railroad Tracks:

The speed limit is 15 mph within 100 feet of a railroad crossing where you cannot see the tracks for 400 feet in both directions. You may drive faster than 15 mph if the crossing is controlled by gates, a warning signal, or a flag man.

At railroad or train crossings:

California Railroad Crossing

  • Look in both directions and listen for trains. Many crossings have multiple tracks; so, be ready to stop before crossing, if necessary. Cross railroad tracks only at designated crossings and only when it is safe to do so.
  • Expect a train on any track at any time traveling in either direction. If you need to stop after crossing the tracks, wait until you can completely cross the tracks before proceeding. Make sure your vehicle clears the tracks before you stop.
  • Never stop on the railroad tracks. Remember that a train cannot stop quickly or swerve out of the way. If you are on the tracks, you risk injury or death.
  • Watch for vehicles that must stop before they cross train tracks. These vehicles include buses, school buses, and trucks transporting hazardous loads.
  • Remember that flashing red lights mean STOP! Stop at least 15 feet, but not more than 50 feet, from the nearest track when the crossing devices are active or a person warns you a train is coming. Stop if you see a train coming or you hear the whistle, horn, or bell of an approaching train.
  • Do not go under lowering gates or around lowered gates. Flashing red lights indicate you must stop and wait. Do not proceed over the crossing until the red lights stop flashing, even if the gate rises. If the gates are lowered and you do not see a train approaching, call the posted railroad emergency toll-free number or 9-1-1. Be ready to give a detailed description of your location.

Light Rail Transit Vehicle Crossings

The same rules apply to light rail transit vehicle crossings as to train crossings. Do not proceed across the tracks until you can see clearly in both directions and are sure there are no light rail transit vehicles or trains coming. Do not go around or under any lowered gate.

NOTE: Light rail transit vehicles are very quiet and accelerate more quickly than freight trains.

Near Streetcars, Trolleys, or Buses

The passing speed limit, when safe to pass, is no more than 10 mph. This speed limit applies at a safety zone or an intersection where a streetcar, trolley, or bus is stopped and traffic is controlled by a peace officer or traffic signal. A safety zone is marked by raised buttons or markers on the road and is set aside for pedestrians. You will most often see safety zones in areas where street cars or trolleys and vehicles share the roadway.

Business or Residence Districts

The speed limit is 25 mph, unless otherwise posted.

Near Animals

If you see animals or livestock, slow down and follow directions from the person in charge of the animals. If you see a stray animal in your path, slow down or stop, if it is safe.

California Right Of Way Laws

California Right Of Way Laws

General Information

Right-of-way rules, together with courtesy and common sense, help to promote traffic safety. It is important to respect the right-of-way of others, especially pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and bicycle riders. Never assume other drivers will give you the right-of-way. Yield your right-of-way when it helps to prevent collisions.

Respecting the right-of-way of others is not limited to situations such as yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, or watching carefully to ensure the right-of-way of bicyclists and motorcyclists. Motorists must respect the right-of-way of others by not violating traffic laws, such as failing to stop at a stop sign or traffic light, speeding, making unsafe lane changes, or illegal turns. Statistics show that right-of-way violations cause a high percentage of injury collisions in California.



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Pedestrians

Pedestrian safety is a serious issue. A pedestrian is a person on foot or who uses a conveyance such as roller skates, skateboard, etc., other than a bicycle. A pedestrian can also be a person with a disability using a tricycle, quadricycle, or wheelchair for transportation.

In California, pedestrian deaths occur in approximately 22 percent of all traffic fatalities. Drive cautiously when pedestrians are near because they may suddenly cross your path.

Pedestrians may be at risk walking near hybrid and electric vehicles because these vehicles are virtually silent while operating. Use extra caution when driving near pedestrians.

  • Respect the right-of-way of pedestrians. Always stop for any pedestrian crossing at corners or other crosswalks, even if the crosswalk is in the middle of the block, at corners with or without traffic lights, whether or not the crosswalks are marked by painted lines.
  • Do not pass a vehicle that has stopped at a crosswalk. A pedestrian you cannot see may be crossing the street. Stop, then proceed when all pedestrians have crossed the street.
  • Do not drive on a sidewalk, except to cross it to enter or exit a driveway or alley. When crossing, yield to all pedestrians.
  • Do not stop in a crosswalk. You will place pedestrians in danger.
  • Remember, if a pedestrian makes eye contact with you, he or she is ready to cross the street. Yield to the pedestrian.
  • Allow older pedestrians, disabled pedestrians and pedestrians with young children sufficient time to cross the street.

Important: Blind pedestrians rely on the sound of your vehicle to become aware of your vehicle’s presence; so, it is important that you stop your vehicle within 5 feet of the crosswalk. Drivers of hybrid or electric vehicles must remain especially aware that the lack of engine noise may cause a blind pedestrian to assume there is not a vehicle nearby. Follow this cue:



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Crosswalks

A crosswalk is the part of the roadway set aside for pedestrian traffic. Most intersections have a pedestrian crosswalk whether or not lines are painted on the street. Most crosswalks are located at corners, but they can also be located in the middle of the block. Before turning a corner, watch for people about to cross the street. Pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked or unmarked crosswalks.

Crosswalks are often marked with white lines. Yellow crosswalk lines may be painted at school crossings. Most often, crosswalks in residential areas are not marked.

Some crosswalks have flashing lights to warn you that pedestrians may be crossing. Look for pedestrians and be prepared to stop, whether or not the lights are flashing.

Intersections

An intersection is any place where one line of roadway meets another roadway. Intersections include cross streets, side streets, alleys, freeway entrances, and any other location where vehicles traveling on different highways or roads join each other.

Driving through an intersection is one of the most complex traffic situations motorists encounter. Intersection collisions account for more than 45 percent of all reported crashes and 21 percent of fatalities according to the Federal Highway Administration.

  • At intersections without “STOP” or “YIELD” signs, slow down and be ready to stop. Yield to traffic and pedestrians already in the intersection or just entering the intersection. Also, yield to the vehicle or bicycle that arrives first, or to the vehicle or bicycle on your right if it reaches the intersection at the same time as you.
  • At “T” intersections without “STOP” or “YIELD” signs, yield to traffic and pedestrians on the through road. They have the right-of-way.
  • When you turn left, give the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching that are close enough to be dangerous. Also, look for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. .

    Safety suggestion: While waiting to turn left, keep your wheels pointed straight ahead until it is safe to start your turn. If your wheels are pointed to the left, and a vehicle hits you from behind, you could be pushed into oncoming traffic.

  • When you turn right, be sure to check for pedestrians crossing the street and bicyclists coming up behind you on the right.
  • On divided highways or highways with several lanes, watch for vehicles coming in any lane you cross. Turn either left or right only when it is safe.
  • When there are “STOP” signs at all corners, stop first then follow the rules listed above.
  • If you have parked off the road or are leaving a parking lot, etc., yield to traffic before reentering the road.

Roundabouts

A roundabout is an intersection where traffic travels around a central island in a counter-clockwise direction. Vehicles entering or exiting the roundabout must yield to all traffic including pedestrians.

When you approach a roundabout:

  • Slow down as you approach the roundabout.
  • Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the roadway.
  • Watch for signs and/or pavement markings that guide you or prohibit certain movements.
  • Enter the roundabout when there is a big enough gap in traffic.
  • Drive in a counter-clockwise direction. Do not stop or pass other vehicles.
  • Use your turn signals when you change lanes or exit the roundabout.
  • If you miss your exit, continue around until you return to your exit.

Multiple and single lane roundabout
Roundabout
For roundabouts with multiple lanes, choose your entry or exit lane based on your destination as shown in the graphic. For example, to:

  • Turn right at the intersection (blue car), choose the right-hand lane and exit in the right-hand lane.
  • Go straight through the intersection (red car), choose either lane, and exit in the lane you entered.
  • Turn left (yellow car), choose the left lane, and exit.

On Mountain Roads

When two vehicles meet on a steep road where neither vehicle can pass, the vehicle facing downhill must yield the right-of-way by backing up until the vehicle going uphill can pass. The vehicle facing downhill has the greater amount of control when backing up the hill.




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California Traffic Control Light Laws & Rules

California Traffic Light Laws

Traffic Signal Lights

Solid Red– A red signal light means “STOP.” You can make a right turn against a red light after you stop then yield to pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles close enough to be a hazard. Make the right turn only when it is safe. Do not turn if a “NO TURN ON RED” sign is posted.

Red Arrow– A red arrow means “STOP.” Remain stopped until the green signal or green arrow appears. Do not turn against a red arrow.

Flashing Red– A flashing red signal light means “STOP.” After stopping, you may proceed when it is safe. Observe the right-of-way rules.

Solid Yellow– A yellow signal light means “CAUTION.” The red signal is about to appear. When you see the yellow light, stop if you can do so safely. If you cannot stop safely, cross the intersection cautiously.

Yellow Arrow– A yellow arrow means the “protected” turning time period is ending. Be prepared to obey the next signal, which could be the green or red light or the red arrow.

Flashing Yellow– A flashing yellow signal light warns you to “PROCEED WITH CAUTION.” You do not need to stop for a flashing yellow light, but you must slow down and be especially alert before entering the intersection.

Flashing Yellow Arrow– This signal means turns are permitted (unprotected), but you must first yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians and then proceed with caution.

Solid Green–Give the right-of-way to any vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian in the intersection. A green light means “GO.” If you are turning left, make the turn only if you have enough space to complete the turn before creating a hazard for any oncoming vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian. Do not enter the intersection if you cannot get completely across before the light turns red. If you block the intersection, you can be cited.

Green Arrow–A green arrow means “GO.” You must turn in the direction the arrow is pointing after you yield to any vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian still in the intersection. The green arrow allows you to make a “protected” turn. Oncoming vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians are stopped by a red light as long as the green arrow is lighted.

Traffic Signal Blackout– The traffic signal light is not working. Proceed cautiously as if the intersection is controlled by “STOP” signs in all directions.



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California Driving Laws For Occupants

California Driving Laws

Seat Belts

Seat belts, both the lap belt and shoulder harness, must be in good working order. You may not operate your vehicle on public roads and on private property, such as public parking lots, unless you and all of your passengers eight years of age or older, or children who are 4 feet 9 inches tall or taller are wearing seat belts; and children younger than eight years old or who are less than 4 feet 9 inches tall are seated in a federally-approved child passenger restraint system. You and all passengers must wear a seat belt or, you and/or your passenger(s) may be cited. If the passenger is under 16 years of age, you may be cited if he or she is not wearing his or her seat belt.

Always use your seat belts (including the shoulder harness) even if the vehicle is equipped with air bags. You can have shoulder harnesses or seat belts installed in older vehicles. Even if you wear only a lap belt when driving, your chances of living through a collision are twice as high as someone who does not wear a lap belt. If you wear a lap and shoulder belt, your chances are three to four times higher to live through a collision.

Pregnant women should wear the lap belt as low as possible under the abdomen, and the shoulder strap should be placed between the breasts and to the side of the abdomen’s bulge.

WARNING: Using seat belts reduces the risk of being thrown from your vehicle in a collision. If you do not install and use a shoulder harness with the seat (lap) belt, serious or fatal injuries may happen in some collisions. Lap-only belts increase the chance of spinal column and abdominal injuries—especially in children. Shoulder harnesses may be available for your vehicle, if it is not already equipped with them.



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Mistaken Beliefs About Seat Belts

Many studies and actual crash tests have proven safety belts can reduce injuries and deaths. Have you heard these myths?

MYTH: “Seat belts can trap you inside a vehicle.” Research shows it actually takes less than a second to take off a seat belt. This myth often describes a vehicle that caught fire or sank in deep water. A seat belt may keep you from being “knocked out.” Therefore, your chances to escape are better if you are conscious
MYTH: “Seat belts are good on long trips, but I don’t need them if I’m driving around town.” More than half of all traffic deaths happen within 25 miles of home. Do not take chances with your life or the lives of your passengers. Buckle up every time you drive regardless of travel distance.
MYTH: “Some people are thrown from a vehicle in a crash and walk away with hardly a scratch.” Research shows your chances of surviving a collision are five times better if, upon impact, you are not thrown from the vehicle. A seat belt can keep you from being thrown into the path of another vehicle.
MYTH: “I’m only going to the store. My little brother or sister doesn’t need to be secured in a safety seat.” Research shows car collisions are the number one preventable cause of death for children. The law requires that children under eight years of age who are 4 feet 9 inches tall or taller to be properly secured with an appropriate safety belt , or be buckled into a federally-approved child passenger restraint system if under eight years of age and less than 4 feet 9 inches tall.



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The following graphic illustrates what can happen in a collision. If you are struck from the side, the impact could push you back and forth across the seat. Seat belts and shoulder harnesses keep you in a better position to control the vehicle and may minimize serious injuries.

When you collide, your vehicle stops, but you keep going at the same speed you were traveling, until you hit the dashboard or windshield. At 30 miles per hour (mph) this motion is equivalent to hitting the ground from the top of a three-story building.

Occupant Impact

Child Restraint System and Safety Seats

Any child who is under eight (8) years old must be secured in a federally-approved child passenger restraint system and ride in the back seat of a vehicle.

EXCEPTION: A child who is under eight (8) years old and who is at least 4 feet 9 inches tall may instead use a properly secured seatbelt.

A child who is under eight (8) years old may ride in the front seat of a vehicle in the following instances:

  • There is no rear seat or the rear seats are either side-facing jump seats or rear-facing seats.
  • The child passenger restraint system cannot be properly installed in the rear seat.
  • All rear seats are already occupied by children under the age of seven (7) years.
  • A medical reason requires the child to ride in the front seat.

A child may not ride in the front seat of an airbag-equipped vehicle if the child:

  • Is less than one (1) year of age.
  • Weighs less than 20 lbs.
  • Is riding in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system.

Children eight (8) years of age and older, but under 16 years old must be properly secured with an appropriate seatbelt.

Proper child passenger restraint system installation can be checked by contacting local law enforcement agencies or fire departments that may provide this service or refer you to a child passenger safety technician in your area. As your child grows, check with these agencies to confirm that the car seat is the correct size for your child.

Riding Safely With Air Bags

Most people can take steps to eliminate or reduce air bag risk without turning off air bags. The biggest risk is being too close to the air bag. An air bag needs about 10 inches of space to inflate. Ride at least 10 inches (measured from the center of the steering wheel to your breastbone) from the air bag cover, if you can do this while maintaining full control of the vehicle. If you cannot safely sit 10 inches away from the air bag, contact your vehicle dealer or manufacturer for advice about additional ways of moving back from your air bag.

Passengers should also sit at least 10 inches away from the passengerside air bag.

Side-Impact Air Bags

Side-impact air bags can provide extra safety benefits to adults in side-impact crashes. However, children who are seated next to a side air bag may be at risk of serious or fatal injury. Since side air bags are different in design and performance, you should consider the benefits and risks associated with the use of side air bags if you transport children. Studies have shown that children who are leaning against a side air bag when it inflates are at risk of serious injury. These studies also show that children who are traveling in a correctly installed child restraint system appropriate to age and weight are not at risk of serious injury. These children are usually not in the path of a side air bag when it inflates.

Unattended Children In Motor Vehicles

It is never a good idea to leave a child unattended in a vehicle.

It is illegal to leave a child six years or younger unattended in a motor vehicle.

The court may fine a violator and require him or her to attend a community education program. Also, DMV and court penalties for leaving an unattended child in a vehicle are more severe if the child is injured, requires emergency medical services, or dies.

NOTE: The child may be left under the supervision of a person 12 years of age or older.

Hot Weather Risks

As stated in the “Unattended Children in Motor Vehicles” section above, it is against the law to leave unattended minor children in a vehicle (CVC §5620). Additionally, and equally important, it is dangerous and deadly to leave children and/or animals in a hot vehicle. After sitting in the sun, even if a window is slightly opened, the temperature can rise rapidly inside a parked vehicle. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise approximately 40-50 degrees higher than the outside temperature.

Dehydration, heat stroke, and death can result from overexposure to the heat. Remember if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for children and pets.




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Changing Information On Your California Driver License

California Driving Laws

To Replace A Lost/Stolen Or Damaged Driver License

If your driver license is lost, stolen, or damaged, you must go to a DMV office, complete the Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44) form, and pay a fee for the replacement. You should also present a photo identification. If the DMV cannot confirm your identity, you will not be issued a temporary driver license.

If you are a minor, your parent(s) or guardian(s) must sign the (DL 44) form. If both parents/guardians have joint custody, both must sign.

Once a replacement driver license is issued, the previous driver license is no longer valid. Destroy the old driver license if you find it later.



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Name Changes

When you legally change your name because of marriage or other reasons, be sure to change your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA) before coming into the DMV.

Bring your driver license to the DMV in person, along with your marriage certificate or other acceptable verification of your “true full name” (refer to Obtaining a Driver License section). You must complete the Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44) form and pay the applicable fee. The DMV will electronically verify your name, birth date, and social security number (SSN) with the SSA.

A new picture, fingerprint, and signature will be taken. Your old photo DL/ID card will be invalidated and returned to you.

Driver License Renewals

The DMV sends a renewal notice to your address of record about two months before your driver license expires. Follow the instructions on the renewal notice. If you do not receive a renewal notice, go online or call to make an appointment to renew your driver license (refer to DMV Information page page for details on appointments).

Qualified drivers may be eligible to renew their driver license online at DMV’s website at the www.dmv.ca.gov or by mail.

The DMV may issue a driver license for five years. The driver license expires on your birthday in the year shown on the driver license, unless otherwise indicated. It is against the law to drive with an expired driver license.

A driving test may be required as part of any driver license transaction. Driving tests are not required simply because of age.

If the DMV cannot confirm your identity, you will not be issued a temporary driver license.

For other types of driver licenses refer to the California Commercial Driver Handbook (PDF), Recreational Vehicles and Trailers Handbook, or California Motorcycle Handbook.

Renewal By Mail, Internet, Or Telephone

If you have not received two consecutive five-year driver license extensions, you may be eligible to renew by mail, Internet, or telephone without taking a law test, if:

  • Your current driver license expires before age 70.
  • You do not have a probationary driver license (CVC §14250).
  • You have not violated a written promise to appear in court or to pay a fine within the last two years.
  • You are not suspended for driving with an illegal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level, or refusing or failing to complete a chemical or preliminary alcohol screening test within the last two years.
  • You do not have a total violation point count greater than one point.

NOTE: If you renew by telephone, you must have the Renewal Identification Number (RIN) available when you call. This can be found on your renewal notice.




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Driver License Extension

If you are away from California (up to one year), you may request a free one-year extension before your driver license expires. Mail your request to DMV, PO Box 942890, Sacramento, CA 94290-0001. Include your name, driver license number, birth date, California residence address, and out-of-state address. Limited term drivers are not eligible for this extension.

Driver License In Your Possession

You must always have your driver license with you when you drive. Show it to any police officer who asks to see it. If you are in a collision, you must show it to the other driver(s) involved (refer to the “Involved in a Collision” section).

Address Changes

When you move, you must give the DMV your new address within 10 days. There is no fee to change your address. You may notify the DMV of your address change for your driver license, identification card, and vehicle(s) online at www.dmv.ca.gov. You may also download a Change of Address (DMV 14) form and mail it to the address on the form, or call the DMV at 1-800-777-0133, and request a DMV 14 form be mailed to you.

A new driver license or identification card is not issued when you change your address.

You may type or write your new address on a small piece of paper, sign, and date the paper and carry it (do not use tape or staples) with your driver license or identification card.

If you change your address at a field office, the DMV representative will give you a Change of Address Card (DL 43) to complete and carry with your driver license or identification card.

Reminder: The U.S. Postal Service forwards some DMV correspondence; however, it is your responsibility to ensure the DMV has your correct mailing address on record.

Vision

DMV screens all drivers to measure vision with or without corrective lenses. If you do not meet DMV’s vision standard (20/40), you will be required to visit a vision specialist. The DMV representative will give you a Report of Vision Examination (DL 62) form to have completed by the vision specialist. If your vision is not worse than 20/70, DMV may issue you a 30-day temporary driver license to allow you time to have your vision checked.



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Medical Information Card

Call 1-800-777-0133 to obtain a Medical Information Card (DL 390) to list your blood type, allergies, name of physician, and other medical information. It can be carried with your DL/ID card.

Organ and Tissue Donation

You may sign up to donate your organs and tissue for transplantation after your death. When you apply for or renew your driver license or ID card, check the “YES! Add my name to the donor registry.” box on the renewal form to place your name on the Donate Life California Organ Tissue Donor Registry. If you need additional information, check the “I do not wish to register at this time.” box and call Donate Life California where Donate Life California representatives can answer any questions you may have about organ and tissue donation. You may also use the renewal form to financially contribute to the registry by checking the “$2 voluntary contribution to support and promote organ and tissue donation.” box.

If you are older than 13, and under 18 years of age, you may register with Donate Life California, provided your parent(s) or guardian(s) authorize the donation.

For more information about the donor registry, adding restrictions to your gift, and the donation process, visit the Donate Life California website atdonateLIFEcalifornia.org, or call 1-866-797-2366. You may consent to the organ and tissue donation on their website; however, a new driver license or identification card with a pink dot will not be issued until you check “YES! Add my name to the donor registry.” box on a driver license or identification application form and DMV processes the new transaction (replacement, renewal, change of name, etc.).

VETERAN BENEFIT INFORMATION

Have you ever served in the United States Military? The California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet), CalVet Connect program, would like you to receive information regarding benefits, such as employment, housing, education, and health care services, for which you may be entitled. Check the “I have served in the United States Military and I want to receive veteran benefits information.” box on the Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44) form. The DMV will transmit your name and mailing address to the CalVet for them to forward you benefits information.

To locate a CalVet office near you, refer to your local government listing in your telephone book, or visit the CalVet’s website at www.CalVet.ca.gov or the DMV’s website at www.dmv.ca.gov.

Unlicensed Drivers

It is against the law to loan your vehicle to a person who is unlicensed or whose driving privilege has been suspended. If an unlicensed person is caught driving your vehicle, it may be impounded for 30 days (CVC §14607.6).

No person of any age may drive on a highway or in a public parking facility unless he or she has a valid driver license or permit. The law also states that you must not employ, permit, or authorize any person to drive your vehicle on a public street or highway, unless he or she is licensed to drive that class of vehicle.

A person must be at least 21 years old to drive most commercial vehicles for hire in interstate commerce and to transport hazardous materials or wastes.

Diplomatic Driver Licenses

Nonresidents who possess a valid diplomatic driver license issued by the U.S. Department of State are exempt from California driver licensing requirements.

Identification (ID) Cards

The DMV issues ID cards to eligible persons of any age. To obtain an original ID card, you must present a birth date/legal presence verification document and provide your social security number refer to the “ Obtaining a Driver License” section). The ID card is valid until the sixth birthday after the issue date. The fee for an ID card may be reduced, if you meet certain income requirements for specific public assistance programs refer to the FFDL 6 Requirements for a California Identification Card brochure for additional information..

Note: Governmental or non-profit organizations determine whether an individual meets the requirements for a reduced-fee ID card.

If you are age 62 or older, you may obtain a free senior citizen ID card that is good for 10 years.

Free ID Cards For Physical And Mental (P&M) Conditions

Drivers with physical or mental (P&M) conditions may need to be reexamined from time to time by a physician or be retested more often than every five years by a DMV examiner to obtain a limited-term driver license.

Drivers who are no longer able to drive safely because of a P&M condition may be eligible to exchange their valid driver license for a no-fee ID card, if certain guidelines are met. Go online at www.dmv.ca.gov or call 1-800-777-0133 for additional information.

Identification (ID) Card Renewal by Mail or Internet

Customers who are eligible to renew their ID cards by mail or Internet will receive a Renewal by Mail or Internet Notice approximately 60 days before the expiration of their current ID card. Reduced-fee ID cards cannot be renewed by mail or Internet.

There is a fee for regular ID cards (customers under 62 years of age); there is no charge for senior citizen ID cards (customers 62 years of age or older), if applying for a senior citizen ID card.

Driving Schools

When learning to drive, you should seek qualified instruction, either with a public or private high school or a state licensed professional driving school.

The DMV licenses professional schools and instructors in California that meet rigid qualifying standards. Schools must carry liability insurance, hold a bond, and maintain complete records for the DMV inspection. Vehicles are subject to annual inspection. Instructors must pass a written examination every three years or show proof of continuing education in the traffic safety field. If you use the services of a professional driving school, ask to see the instructor’s identification card. Go online at www.dmv.ca.gov or refer to the Selecting a Driving School (FFDL 33) Fast Facts brochure for additional information.

Mature Driver Program

The Mature Driver Program is an eight-hour course for drivers 55 and older. This course covers a variety of topics of special interest to the mature driver and is available from the DMV approved course providers.

Your insurance company may offer discounts for those who complete the class and receive a completion certificate­. The certificate is valid for three years and can be renewed by completing a four-hour course.

Pedestrian Responsibilities

Pedestrians (including joggers) should be aware of traffic conditions. Watch out for drivers before assuming that you have the right-of-way when crossing a street.

Be aware that hybrid and electric vehicles are virtually silent when running on electric power and you may not hear them approaching an intersection.

Yield the right-of-way to vehicles when you cross a street between intersections and in areas with no pedestrian crosswalks or signals.

Remember: Making eye contact with a driver does not mean the driver will yield the right-of-way.

Do not suddenly leave a curb or other safe place, and walk or run into the path of a vehicle close enough to be a danger to you. This is true even though you are in a crosswalk. The law states that drivers must always yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian, but if the driver cannot stop in time to avoid hitting you, the law will not prevent you from being hit.

Avoid distractions as a pedestrian. Do not use your mobile phone or electronic device while moving. To avoid becoming a hazard to vehicles and other pedestrians, you should be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Always obey traffic signals. Whether the intersection has pedestrian signals or traffic lights, you must obey the pedestrian rules. At an intersection where traffic is not controlled by signals, drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within any crosswalk, marked or unmarked.

When a signal first changes to green or “WALK,” look left, right, and then left again, and yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection before the traffic signal changes.

If the signal begins blinking or changes to “DON’T WALK,” or to an upraised hand after you have gone part way across a divided street, you may continue across the street.

Do not stop or delay traffic unnecessarily while crossing a street.

Pedestrians are not permitted on any toll bridge or highway crossing, unless there is a sidewalk and signs stating pedestrian traffic is permitted.

If there are no sidewalks, walk facing oncoming traffic (see graphic). Do not walk or jog on any freeway where signs tell you that pedestrians are not allowed. Do not walk or jog in a bike lane unless there is no sidewalk.

Pedestriams waking along a roadway.

At night, make yourself more visible by:

  • Wearing white, light, or reflective material clothing.
  • Carrying a flashlight.

California Minors Driving Permit Requirements

California Driving Laws

Minor’s Permit Requirements

A minor is a person under 18 years of age. Minors must have their applications (for a driver license or any change of driver license class), signed by their parent(s) or legal guardian(s). If both parents/guardians have joint custody, both must sign.

NOTE: Minors may not work as a driver for pay and they may not drive a school bus containing pupils.



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To get a permit you must:

  • Be at least 15½ years of age, but under 18 years of age.
  • Complete the Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44) form.
  • Have your parent(s) or guardian(s) sign the DL 44 form.
  • Pass the traffic laws and road signs test. If you fail the test, you must wait one week before retaking the test.
  • If you are 15½ –17½ years of age, you will need to provide proof that you:
    • Completed driver education (Certificate of Completion of Driver Education) OR
    • Are enrolled and participating in an approved integrated driver education/driver training program (Certificate of Enrollment in an Integrated [Classroom] Driver Education and Driver Training Program). For more information, refer to the Provisional Licensing (FFDL 19) Fast Facts brochure at www.dmv.ca.gov.

The provisional permit is not valid until you start your behind-the-wheel driver training with an instructor or reach age 17½.

If you have a permit and plan to drive outside of California, check licensing requirements in that state or country.

NOTE: If you are at least 17½ years of age, you may obtain a permit without completing driver education or driver training. However, you cannot get a driver license before you are 18 years old.

Minor’s Permit Restrictions

Your permit is not valid until you begin driver training; your instructor will sign the permit to validate it. You must practice with a licensed California driver: parent, guardian, driving instructor, spouse, or an adult 25 years of age 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 – not even to a DMV office to take a driving test.

Minor’s Driver License Requirements

You must:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Prove that you have finished both driver education and driver training.
  • Have had a California instruction permit or an instruction permit from another state for at least six months (refer to the Out-of-State Minors section below).
  • Provide parent(s) or guardian(s) signature(s) on your instruction permit stating that you have completed 50 hours of supervised driving practice (10 hours must be night driving) as outlined in the California Parent-Teen Training Guide (DL 603). Visit the Teen website at www.dmv.ca.gov/teenweb/ or call 1-800-777-0133 to request this booklet.
  • Pass the behind-the-wheel driving test. You have three chances to pass the driving test while your permit is valid. If you fail the behind-the-wheel driving test, you must pay a retest fee for a second or subsequent test and wait two weeks before you are retested.

Once you have your provisional driver license, you may drive alone, as long as you do not have any collisions or traffic violations.

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

During the first 12 months after you are licensed, you cannot drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and you cannot transport passengers under 20 years of age, unless you are accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian, a licensed driver 25 years of age or older, or a licensed or certified driving instructor.



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Exceptions – Minors’ Driver License Restrictions

The law allows the following exceptions when reasonable transportation is not available and it is necessary for you to drive. A signed note explaining the necessity to drive and the date when this driving necessity will end must be kept in your possession for the following exceptions (emancipated minors are excluded from this requirement):

  • Medical necessity to drive when reasonable transportation alternatives are inadequate. The note must be signed by a physician with the diagnosis and probable date of recovery.
  • Schooling or school-authorized activity. The note must be signed by the school principal, dean, or designee.
  • Employment necessity and the need to operate a vehicle as part of your employment. The note must be signed by the employer verifying employment.
  • 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.

EXCEPTION: These requirements do not apply to an emancipated minor. You must have declared yourself emancipated and provided the DMV with proof of financial responsibility (SR 1P) in lieu of your parent(s) or guarantor(s) signature(s).

Out-Of-State Minors

All out-of-state minor applicants must comply with the application requirements outlined in the “Application Requirements for a Basic Class C Driver License” section on page 4 and must have parent(s) and/or legal guardian(s) signature on the Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44) form.

Out-Of-State Minor’s Permit

Out-of-state minor’s permit applicants must meet the requirements listed in the “Minor’s Permit Requirements” section on page 10. In addition, if your driver education and driver training courses were taken in a state other than California, DMV may accept a To Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools (DL 33) form completed by the out-of-state secondary school. You may obtain a DL 33 form at your local DMV office or by calling the DMV at 1-800-777-0133. Send the DL 33 form to your out-of-state secondary school and ask them to complete and return to you.

Out-Of-State Minor’s Driver License

You will be asked to present your out-of-state driver license and pass a knowledge exam as part of the application process. The behind-the-wheel driving test for holders of out-of-state driver licenses is normally waived. However, DMV may require a behind-the wheel driving test for any type of driver license application.

NOTE: Out-of-state minor applicants are subject to provisional restrictions per California law.




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California DMV Driver License Examination Process

California Driving Laws

Where To Take The Tests

You may take the knowledge, vision, and behind-the-wheel driving tests at any DMV field office that provides driver license services.

To save time, make an appointment online at: www.dmv.ca.gov or call 1-800-777-0133 during normal business hours.

NOTE: The DMV will not administer written or audio exams after 4:30 p.m. to ensure you have sufficient time for testing.

Knowledge and vision tests are required when you apply for an original driver license or upgrade to a different class of driver license.



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Cheating

The use of testing aids is strictly prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to: The California Driver Handbook, cheat sheets, or electronic communication devices such as a cell phone, hand-held computer, etc. If any testing aid is used during the written test, the written test will be marked as a “failure.” An action may also be taken by the DMV against your driving privilege or the driving privilege of anyone else who assists you in the examination process.

DMV’s Examinations

Your driver license examinations include:

  • A vision test. (Bring your eyeglasses or contact lenses to the exam.)
  • A test of traffic laws and road signs.
  • A behind-the-wheel driving test, if required. You must have an appointment to take the behind-the-wheel driving test. For the driving test, bring:— Your old driver license or instruction permit, if you have one.
    — A licensed driver age 18 years or older with a valid driver license.
    — Proof that the vehicle is properly insured.

IMPORTANT: If you use a rental vehicle, the driving test applicant must be listed on the rental contract. The contract must not exclude driving tests.

— A vehicle that is safe to drive, and has valid registration. The vehicle’s brake lights, horn, parking brake, and turn signals must work properly. The vehicle cannot have bald tires, which would have less than 1/32 inch tread depth in any two adjacent grooves. The driver’s side window must roll down. The windshield must allow a full unobstructed field of vision for you and the examiner. There must be at least two rear view mirrors (one must be on the left outside of the vehicle). You will be asked to locate the controls for the vehicle’s headlights, windshield wipers, defroster, and emergency flashers. You must demonstrate how to use the parking brake.

NOTE: The behind-the-wheel driving test will be rescheduled if the vehicle does not meet the above requirements or if you refuse to use your seat belt during the driving test.

For more information, refer to the DMV’s Driving Test (FFDL 22) Fast Facts brochure, DMV videos, and sample tests available online at www.dmv.ca.gov.




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Classes Of Driver Licenses In California

California Driving Laws

Class C driver license

You may drive a:

  • 2-axle vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,000 lbs. or less.
  • 3-axle vehicle weighing 6,000 lbs. or less gross.
  • Housecar 40 feet or less.
  • 3-wheel motorcycle with two wheels located in the front or back.
  • Vanpool vehicle designed to carry more than 10 persons, but no more than 15 persons including the driver.

NOTE: A driver of a vanpool may operate with a Class C license but shall possess evidence of a medical examination required for a Class B license when operating vanpool vehicles. The driver must keep in the vanpool vehicle a statement signed under penalty of perjury, that he or she has not been convicted of reckless driving, drunk driving, or hit-and-run in the last five years (CVC §12804.9(j)).



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You may tow a:

  • Single vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less, including a tow dolly, if used.
  • With a vehicle weighing 4,000 lbs. or more unladen, you may tow a:
  • Trailer coach or 5th-wheel travel trailer under 10,000 lbs. GVWR when towing is not for compensation.
  • 5th-wheel travel trailer exceeding 10,000 lbs. but under 15,000 lbs. GVWR, when towing is not for compensation, and with endorsement.
  • A farmer or employee of a farmer may drive:
  • Any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or less, if used exclusively in agricultural operations and it is not for hire or compensation.

NOTE: Class C licensees may not tow more than one vehicle. A passenger vehicle, regardless of weight, may not tow more than one vehicle. A motor vehicle under 4,000 lbs. unladen weight may not tow any vehicle weighing 6,000 lbs. or more gross. (CVC §21715)

Other classes of driver licenses/endorsements

  • Noncommercial Class A
  • Noncommercial Class B
  • Commercial Class A
  • Commercial Class B
  • Commercial Class C
  • Motorcycle Class M1
  • Motorcycle Class M2

Commercial endorsements:

  • Doubles/Triples
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Passenger Transportation
  • Tank Vehicle
  • Ambulance Driver Certificate
  • School Bus Endorsement
  • Tow Truck Driver Certificate
  • Verification of Transit Training Certificate
  • Firefighter Endorsement

NOTE: Commercially licensed firefighters must submit a Medical Examination Report (DL 51) every 2 years. Noncommercially licensed firefighters can submit a self-certifying Health Questionnaire (DL 546).

Detailed information on other driver license types and endorsements can be found in the California Commercial Driver Handbook, Recreational Vehicles and Trailers Handbook, Ambulance Drivers Handbook, California Parent-Teen Training Guide, and California Motorcycle Handbook. Please refer to these handbooks for additional information.

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Requirements For Obtaining A California Driver License

When you apply for an original California DL card, you must present acceptable document(s) establishing your identity, residency (if applicable), birthdate, and provide your social security number (SSN), if eligible. The document(s) provided:

  • Must be a certified copy, or an original document.
  • May contain an impressed seal or original stamped impression.
  • Must not be a photocopy.
  • Must not be laminated.

If you present a legal presence document your DL/ID card may expire on the same date as your legal presence document. If the name on your document is different from the name on your DL/ID card application, you must also bring an acceptable true full name document. Your fingerprint, signature, and picture will also be taken (refer to the “Application Requirements for a Basic Class C Driver License” section on page 4). For any other DL/ID card transaction, you must present photo identification.

Examples of acceptable documents include: U.S. Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport, U.S. Armed Forces ID Cards, Certificate of Naturalization, Permanent Resident Card, or a foreign passport with a valid I-94. The I-94 expiration date must be more than two (2) months from the DL/ID card application date.

Examples of true full name verification documents include: adoption documents containing your legal name as a result of the adoption, name change documents containing your legal name both before and after, a marriage certificate, a certificate or registration document verifying the information of a domestic partnership, or a dissolution of marriage document containing your legal name as a result of the court order.

A complete list of accepted documents is available online at www.dmv.ca.gov or in the Document Required to apply for a Driver License (FFDL 05A) Fast Facts brochure.

Application Requirements For A Basic Class C Driver License

To apply for a Class C driver license, you must:

Submit a completed and signed Driver License or Identification Card Application (DL 44) form. Signing this form means you agree to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol or drug content of your blood when requested by a peace officer. If you refuse to sign this statement, the DMV will not issue a permit or driver license.

  • Present an acceptable document(s) establishing your identity, residency (if applicable), and birthdate.
  • Provide your true full name.
  • Provide your SSN, if eligible, which will be electronically verified with the Social Security Administration.
  • Pay a nonrefundable application fee. The fee is good for 12 months and allows you to take the appropriate law test(s) three times. If you fail the law test and/or driving test three times, your application will be void and a new application and fee are required. This fee pays for both the instruction permit and driver license, if you qualify for both documents within the 12-month period. If the application expires, you must resubmit documents, repay the application fee, and retake the required tests.
  • Pass a vision test. You must be able to pass a vision test, with or without corrective lenses, with visual acuity better than 20/200 in at least one eye without the use of a bioptic telescopic lens or similar bioptic device to meet the minimum vision acuity standard (CVC §12805(b)).
  • Have your picture taken.
  • Give a fingerprint scan.
  • Sign your name.




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Who Must Obtain A California Driver License

California Driver License

Obtaining a driver license in California is a relatively straightforward process, but as a part of obtaining your driver license, you must understand some of the basic requirements and also figure out if you actually need to obtain a driver license in California. So, let’s get right to it…

Who Must Obtain A California Driver License?

California Residents

California residents who drive on public highways or use public parking facilities must have a California driver license, unless they are:

  • An officer or employee of the U. S. government operating a vehicle owned or controlled by the U.S. government on federal business, except when operating a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Driving or operating implements of husbandry not operated or moved over a highway.
  • Driving or operating an off-highway vehicle across a highway.

California Resident Military Personnel (U.S. Armed Forces)

If you are out-of-state on active military duty and have a valid California driver license, your and your spouse’s California driver license will be valid for the full time you are absent from California and for 30 days following your discharge date, if you are honorably discharged outside of California. Carry both, your driver license and discharge or separation documents, during those 30 days (CVC § 12817).

Call 1-800-777-0133 to obtain an Extension of License for Person in Armed Forces (DL 236) card which extends your California driver license.

NOTE: Your driver license is not valid if it has been suspended, cancelled or revoked.

Nonresident Military Personnel Stationed in California

If you are 18 years of age or older, refer to the “California Residents” and “Adults Visiting California” sections on this page for additional information. Licensees eligible for military extensions should carry documentation from their home state to verify their status to law enforcement.

New California Residents

When you become a California resident and you want to drive in California, you must apply for a California driver license within 10 days. Residency is established in a variety of ways, including the following:

  • Being registered to vote in California elections.
  • Paying resident tuition at a California college or university.
  • Filing for a home owner’s property tax exemption.
  • Receiving any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.

Adults Visiting California

Visitors over 18 years old with a valid driver license from their home state or country may drive in California without getting a California driver license as long as their home state driver license is valid.

Minors Visiting California

Visitors between 16 – 18 years old may drive with their home state driver license for only 10 days after arriving in California. After 10 days, they must have a:

  • Current California driver license, or
  • Nonresident Minor’s Certificate (which is issued by DMV) to a minor with proof of financial responsibility.