By Carrie Stanton

Getting a driver’s license is a major milestone in a person’s life as it provides a source of independence. Whether you are a first-time driver or the parent of one, the DMV’s online services are a convenient option to avoid in-person lines and jumpstart the journey to driving. From applying for your instruction permit to preparing for and taking the knowledge test (and more), skip the line by visiting dmv.ca.gov.

The DMV has expanded its online services to allow customers to complete many transactions online that previously required a visit to a local office. Here are some tips to help first-time drivers navigate the online process and get on the road sooner. 

1. Apply for your instruction permit

The first step to driving is to apply for your learning permit. This can be completed easily online by logging on to dmv.ca.gov. While completing the application process, you’ll have the opportunity to opt-in to paperless notifications for future renewals, saving yourself and the earth from paper waste.  You will then follow the steps to complete the application and get information on the items needed to take the knowledge test. If you are the parent of a new driver under the age of 18, you will have to complete the application. While applying, be sure to upgrade to a REAL ID.  Starting on May 3, 2023 you’ll need a REAL ID, passport, or other federally compliant ID to board flights within the U.S. or enter secure federal facilities. 

2. Prepare for your knowledge test

As a first-time driver, it is a requirement to pass a knowledge test to show an understanding of traffic laws and driving safety before a permit can be issued. To prepare, review the California Driver Handbook and make sure to schedule enough time to read and understand it. It contains a lot of important information that will prepare you to be a responsible driver. The DMV website offers practice exams to help you test your knowledge. Parents, this is also a great time to talk to your teen about enhanced safety measures and avoiding distractions.

3. Practice for the driving test 

Once a permit has been received, try to practice driving as much as possible. This is how driving essentials such as the road sign meanings and the right-of-way rule will be learned.  You must have a licensed driver in the car while practicing. Always have the permit, vehicle registration and proof of insurance handy. Once you feel ready, go online to make an appointment for the behind-the-wheel test. 

Be sure to create or update your MyDMV account with your current mailing address and email address to stay informed about DMV services and to make sure important information from the DMV is sent to the correct address. Now you’re all set, good luck on your driving journey!