A PROJECT OF THE County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency

Getting a Driver's License

If you are planning to learn to drive, you should visit your nearest Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Pick up and carefully read the California Driver Handbook. If you are under 18, you should read the Teen Driver Guide and the adult who is going to train you should read the Parent-Teen Training Aid. These booklets should contain all the information you need to know in order to obtain your California's Driver's License.

The DMV also has booklets available regarding automotive insurance and registration requirements, and the California Driver and the Motorcycle Handbooks. Contact the DMV or check their website if you have questions or need further information.

Department of Motor Vehicles

What about teens in foster care?

Yes, it is possible for you to get your provisional license if you are currently in foster care. You must either:

  1. Get your biological parent(s) to sign the permit and assume liability. OR....
  2. Purchase your own insurance.


  1. Any person who signs for a minor's diver license accepts liability up to $35,000 for any one accident.
  2. This adult must be 25 years of age or older and agree to supervise additional driving practice for you. This individual can do it themselves, or another adult 25 years of age or older may do it, or a private driving school can conduct the lessons.
  3. This adult must sign the statement on the back of your instruction permit, certifying that you have completed the additional driving practice required by DMV.
  4. This adult may cancel your license at any time prior to your 18th birthday. Simply notifying the DMV and having the license cancelled will also void that individual's financial responsibility. In other words, you will be without a driver's license and insurance.

Getting a license if you're 18 or over

If you wait until after your 18th birthday, getting a drivers license is somewhat easier. Your signature on the application is the only signature you need. No one needs to assume responsibility for you, as you are expected to be responsible for yourself.

An instruction permit will allow you to practice driving with any adult 18 years of age or older who has a valid California drivers license.

Getting a license if you're over 18:

  1. Complete an application
  2. Use your real and complete name, and bring a certified copy of your birth certificate when you apply, as well as your social security number
  3. Pass a traffic laws and sign test. There are 36 questions on the test. You have three chances to pass (there is a sample test on the DMV website).
  4. Pass a vision test
  5. Pay an application fee (currently $25). This entitles you to three behind-the-wheel tests within 12 months. Your fee covers both the instruction permit and the license if you successfully pass the driving test within 12 months.

When you are ready (at least 30 days after the permit is issued) you may make an appointment at the DMV to take your drivers test (make the appointment online, or call). After successful completion of this test, a thumbprint or fingerprint and your photo will be taken. Your permit will be validated, and your official drivers license will be sent to you in the mail (be sure to update the DMV with your current address if you move during this time).

The Volvo Keys to Succes Scholarship Program

Current and previous foster youth ages 16 - 24 can apply for the Volvo Scholarship program for free drivers training. Getting your drivers license includes two parts. There is a written test to see if you know the rules of the road and a behind the wheel driving test with a DMV instructor to see if you can drive a car on the public roads safely. Please contact Denise Bahen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for questions regarding The volvo scholarship.

Volvo Scholarship Application     Volvo Scholarship Rec Letter(1)  Volvo Scholarship Rec Letter(2)