Learning to drive is a challenge, one that begins before teens ever put foot to pedal. The process of getting a license to operate a motor vehicle may be confusing, and requires navigating a series of steps in the proper order.
Ray Delgatto is an expert on the subject of teen driving. He and wife Tami own All American Mountain High Driving School in Madera, Mariposa and Merced Counties. Ray estimates that, in the last 14 years, their company has taught about 5,000 mountain-area students to drive.“Anyone interested in getting their permit should first go to the DMV and pick up their driver’s handbook,” says Ray. “This will give them all the current requirements and information they need to pass the permit and license test.” Of course today’s teenagers will probably prefer to check out the handbook online.
Ray explains the basic steps it takes for teens to get a license today in the state of California.
• AGE: An aspiring driver must be age 15 ½ to 17 ½. If you are over 17 ½ but under 18 years of age, you may get your permit without the driver education and driver training certificates however, you will not be able to take the driving test until you are 18 years old.
• DRIVER’S ED: A driver’s education class is completed in school or privately. Cost varies.
• CERTIFICATE: On completion of Driver’s Ed, the student is issued a certificate.
• SIGNATURES: Next, both of the driver’s parents or guardians sign DMV Form DL44, which is available online. Both parents/guardians must sign if there is joint custody of the applicant, and their signature is an agreement to be financially responsible for the minor. Have your form DL 44 filled out when you arrive at the DMV but DO NOT SIGN IT until instructed to do so in the presence of the DMV clerk.
• MORE PAPERWORK: Gather driver’s ed certificate + Form DL44 + birth certificate + Social Security number. Birth certificate must be original or a certified copy, no photocopies accepted. Social security card is not mandatory, they will check the number at the DMV.
• DMV TRIP: A guardian takes the student with paperwork to a DMV for a written test.
• PAYMENT: The current cost for a permit/driver’s license is $31. Bring cash, check, money order or debit card. Credit cards are not accepted at DMV offices.
• SMILE: The newly-minted driver should be prepared to have his or her picture taken, and give a thumb print.
• PERMIT: Finally, the successful student is given a permit with limited driving privileges.
Now don’t just jump in the car and let your student drive home when you leave the DMV. Their new permit is not legal until they have their first behind-the-wheel instruction from a licensed driving school.
“After receiving your permit, you may not legally drive on that permit with anyone until you either reach the age of 17 ½ or start your Driver’s Training behind the wheel with a licensed driving school,” according to Ray. The budding navigator can then fire up the engine and truly begin.
• DRIVING: The teen driver takes Driver’s Training Behind the Wheel instruction. This will cost about $275 and up, depending on the school.
– A total of 6 hours must be completed with licensed instructors.
• PRACTICING: After one lesson, a student may practice with a licensed driver age 25+.
– 50 hours of driving practice is required, including 10 hours driving at night.
• WAITING: The student must have their driver’s permit for 6 months and be at least 16 before they will be eligible for a license.
• TESTING: Once training, practice and compliance is achieved, the determined young driver may take the Driver’s Test.
According to driving instructor Ray, once a student driver has completed all the requirements as laid out by the state, he or she may receive a provisional driver’s license from the DMV. Upon issuance of this license, the teen may drive alone, with serious restrictions.
“You may only drive sisters and brothers in your car, or anyone over the age of 20, your first year,” cautions Ray. Driving between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. is also prohibited, except under certain conditions.
Ray adds that laws and restrictions change frequently and advises students to keep up with current information through the DMV.
While many rules and restrictions surrounding teen drivers have changed with time, some have not. Ray reminds students and experienced drivers alike to always wear seatbelts.
“Be safe. Be aware of other drivers around you and of what they are doing,” says Ray. “Be aware of your surroundings and situations. Always look out in front of you and around you as far as you can see,” suggests the experienced instructor.
“React in a timely manner and do not overreact,” continues Ray. “Drive defensively. Live long and enjoy what life has to offer and what the future will bring you. Be a leader to your family and friends, drive safely and stay alive.”
For more information, contact Ray and Tami at www.allamericandrivingschoolca.com
(559) 641-5200 or (209) 742-7070.
It is always best to make an appointment for any visit to the DMV. Click here to schedule yours.