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Driving in California- help

Driving in California- help

Old Feb 24th 2011, 9:36 pm
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Default Driving in California- help

I'm from the uk and have just moved to Los Angeles. Luckily I am an american citizen (thanks mum) and have a ssn.
The DMV website hasn't answered all of my question so i thought someone here might know.
I've booked an appointment, but want to know if i can take my written and practical test in the same day?
If not how long do i have to drive around on a permit for.
Also what's the written test like?

Cheers
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Old Feb 24th 2011, 9:55 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

I don't know if you can take the written and practical test the same day.

When I passed my written test in September, they gave me an 'Instruction Permit' license, valid for 12 months. It says:

'you must be accompanied by a Calif. licensed driver age 18 or over who has a non-probationary license valid for the vehicle being driven. This person must ride in a position to instruct you and to control the vehicle if necessary.'

I already had a British license, so they also gave me a temporary driver license that was good for two months. I wasn't expecting this, and am not even sure I was supposed to get it, but since I haven't yet driven here I didn't worry about it.

The written test: you need to study the California Driver Handbook. Pick up a booklet at the DMV, or Google it for the pdf version. As people here have said before, there are some technicalities about penalties and laws you need to know and that frequently come up on the test. Other than that, it's just a paper multiple-selection test you do in a little booth at the DMV, and is marked in front of you -- pretty low-key compared to the British driving test.

Last edited by MoshiMoshi; Feb 24th 2011 at 9:57 pm.
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Old Feb 24th 2011, 10:03 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

Thanks for the advice. I finally got through to the DMV after days of calling and waiting. You can't take both written and practical on the same day. I think they issue temporary licenses because we're experienced drivers.
Now all i have to do is pass
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Old Feb 24th 2011, 10:22 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

Good luck!

And good choice re booking an appointment -- when I went without one, I had to queue for 40 mins just to get to the front desk... where they give you a numbered ticket and let you into the actual waiting area.

Anyone with an appointment just waltzes straight to the front desk to get a numbered ticket. Expect death-stares from everyone waiting . Oh, and to be screamed at by senior citizens who don't quite get the system. I love the DMV.
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Old Feb 24th 2011, 10:30 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

wow sounds exciting. luckily i booked an app. and its first thing in the morning- best make sure i have enough caffeine to deal with the DMV. I've never heard anyone say anything good about it.

Thanks again
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Old Feb 25th 2011, 2:47 am
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

If you go this site you can practise:

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/interactive/tdrive/exam.htm

The actual test is pencil and paper tho
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Old Feb 25th 2011, 4:59 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

I got lucky - lived in DC first and they simply converted my British license (no test at all!) and then when i got to CA I just had to do the written part.

I've had plenty of trips to the DMV though. Couple of bits of advice:

1. The CA DMV now shows you waiting times online - I have 3 places about 6 miles from my office, and I've looked online and see waiting times at some over an hour, while another had 10 minutes. Guess which one I went to?! Make appointments whenever you can.

2. The written test - they use all kind of double-negatives in the language to confuse you, and some of the questions are just flat out badly worded. The wording used in the questions is the only thing that's difficult about the test! Do take a look at some practice ones and get to grips with it. I think they even let you take it again if you fail after a 15 minute break or something like that, but you don't want to fail twice and have to go back another day!

Also, as you get use to driving here, there's plenty of unwritten rules that are part of CA life, or maybe just LA life...for example...

If you're at an intersection and there's no left turn light....basically two cars can go (very quickly!) when the light turns red. Otherwise, there'd be no way to turn left at all!

Changing lanes on the freeway - cautiously glance into your mirror (don't make it obvious), and when there's a gap, go for it, use your indicator as you change lanes. If you indicate too early, or make it too obvious you're looking in the mirror, the car behind with squeeze up and there's no getting in there!

Yep, it's fun!!

-Matt
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Old Feb 25th 2011, 5:55 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

Originally Posted by MoshiMoshi View Post
'you must be accompanied by a Calif. licensed driver age 18 or over who has a non-probationary license valid for the vehicle being driven. This person must ride in a position to instruct you and to control the vehicle if necessary.'
As you have an international license this doesn't apply though, you don't need someone with you. Both me and hubby went on seperate days to the DMV on our own to do our test, when we were asked who was accompanying we both said 'no-one we have a British license' and produced it and they said that was fine.
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Old Feb 25th 2011, 6:01 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

Originally Posted by feltonisounds View Post
Thanks for the advice. I finally got through to the DMV after days of calling and waiting. You can't take both written and practical on the same day. I think they issue temporary licenses because we're experienced drivers.
Now all i have to do is pass
Really WOW!! I guess that SoCal must be different to Norcal I took both mine on the same day!!
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Old Feb 25th 2011, 6:09 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

I always wondered what the international license really did. I got one just before I left the UK in 1997 thinking it'd be useful here. I had a British license also. I moved to DC, went to get my US license, they told me they couldn't except an international license, but would take a British one. Never had any use for the inernational!

-Matt
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Old Feb 25th 2011, 6:11 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

Originally Posted by Poppy girl View Post
Really WOW!! I guess that SoCal must be different to Norcal I took both mine on the same day!!
yes, the OP want to re-check that. My wife didn't have any kind of license when we moved to CA, and I'm pretty certain she got hers all done in the same day. That was 2001, so maybe things have changed - but worth a double check. There shouldn't be any difference between NoCal and SoCal on this - licenses are issued by the State, if you're in CA, you should be following the same process.

-Matt
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Old Feb 25th 2011, 9:17 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

Originally Posted by mmhendrie View Post
I always wondered what the international license really did. I got one just before I left the UK in 1997 thinking it'd be useful here. I had a British license also. I moved to DC, went to get my US license, they told me they couldn't except an international license, but would take a British one. Never had any use for the inernational!

-Matt
An international license is only useful if you have another license and the international license translates your license to the local language. Since the US is an English speaking country and the UK license is in English, there normally isn't any need for an international license.
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Old Feb 25th 2011, 9:17 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

Originally Posted by mmhendrie View Post
yes, the OP want to re-check that. My wife didn't have any kind of license when we moved to CA, and I'm pretty certain she got hers all done in the same day. That was 2001, so maybe things have changed - but worth a double check. There shouldn't be any difference between NoCal and SoCal on this - licenses are issued by the State, if you're in CA, you should be following the same process.

-Matt
We couldn't take ours on the same day. My son just took his test last year.
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Old Feb 25th 2011, 9:30 pm
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Default Re: Driving in California- help

Originally Posted by N1cky View Post
As you have an international license this doesn't apply though, you don't need someone with you. Both me and hubby went on seperate days to the DMV on our own to do our test, when we were asked who was accompanying we both said 'no-one we have a British license' and produced it and they said that was fine.
Does this apply if you're

a) beyond the 10-day grace period for driving on your British license?
b) beyond the 2-month period of the temporary license given when you pass the written test and already have a British license?

I mean, now I'm well beyond the 10-day-residency period, and my CA temporary license expired in December, but I still have a valid CA 'Instruction Permit' license and a British license. Does anyone know if this means, legally, I can drive around on my own?
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