Driver's ed required for permit? Any recommendations?

Looking at the DMV website it appears that my son needs to complete driver's ed BEFORE receiving a provisional permit -- is this true? And if so, any recs? The places mentioned in previous posts have been for safety training once you already have a license.....

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

Yes, he needs to pass Driver’s Ed and then pass the written test to get the permit.  My kids used which worked fine for them.  It’s online and you can do it at your own pace.  I think they have both a browser based version and an app they can use on their phones.

After he gets the permit, he’ll need to do 6 hours of driver’s training with a professional school, as well as 50 hours of driving with you (40 daytime and 10 nighttime).  We used Berkeley Driving School.  He needs to do the first two hour lesson with a trainer before he can start driving with you.  Our strategy was to do the second lesson midway through the 50 hours and the final lesson just before they were ready to take the behind-the-wheel test.  In that lesson, the trainer will do a mock test and let the student know more about what the test will be like.

Driver's ed is where a new driver learns about the rules of the road before they get behind the wheel. Driver's training is where they get behind-the-wheel practice. And yes, teen drivers must complete driver's ed before they can pass a written test to get a learner's permit. The learner's permit is only valid after the first two-hour driver's training session with a licensed instructor. Once your teen has completed the driver's training requirements they can take the behind-the-wheel test to get their license. If they're under 18, that license will be provisional for the first year.

Both my kids did online driver's ed. I don't remember which programs they signed up for, just that they were similarly priced and they did the job of preparing my kids for the written exam. Re the behind-the-wheel practice: I let my older daughter practice a few times in a parking lot and at the Alameda Naval Air Station before she had her permit. She did fine and was totally responsible, but few things are more nerve-wracking than a totally inexperienced driver. With my younger daughter, I was happy to have the licensed instructor give her the first lesson, and I honestly think that was easier for her as well. And for what it's worth, the terms of the provisional license saved a lot of arguments in my house: the kids weren't licensed drivers after 11pm, and they weren't licensed drivers with their friends in the car. If they rode in the car of a friend with a provisional license, they were putting that friend's license at risk.

My son just got his license last week, so here's my summary of the process - the info on the DMV website is not always very clear:

  1. Schedule a DMV appointment for the permit test. They fill up about 2 months out, so do that first.
  2. Take a driver's ed class - most people do it online; we used on a friend's recommendation, but there are lots of options. If you do it online, ALLOW TIME for them to SNAIL MAIL you a paper certificate of completion - we missed that part the first time around and had to reschedule our DMV appointment.
  3. Take the written permit test at the DMV. Bring plenty of documentation (originals, not copies) that shows who your teen is and where he lives - there's a list on the DMV website of what they'll accept (, but more is better. Proving your address is sometimes hard for a teen - if your teen has a W2 from a summer job, that's a good one to include. Also bring Driver’s Education Completion form, Form DL 44 (you can fill it out in advance here: - write down your confirmation number) and cash/check/debit card for the application fee. NOTE that your teen is not cleared to drive with the permit until he's completed Step 4.
  4. Do 2 hours of driving instruction with a professional instructor. At the end of that first lesson, she'll sign your permit and then your teen is allowed to drive with a parent or other licensed driver over age 25 in the car.
  5. Complete 50 hours of driving (at least 10 of it at night) with your teen. You don't have to document it, but you do have to swear that you did it when he applies for the license.
  6. Also, complete 4 more hours of professional instruction (usually this is 2 2-hour lessons). At the end of your last lesson, your instructor will give you a certificate of completion to take to the DMV.
  7. Sometime during this process, make your DMV driving test appointment. It has to be at least 6 months from the date the permit was issued, and I think the calendar opens 90 days in advance, so do the math and start checking for options as soon as you can. If you're extra cautious, make a second appointment at least 2 weeks after the original date in case your teen doesn't pass the first time - just remember to cancel it when he passes on the first try so someone else can have your slot.
  8. [Before you go to the DMV, check to see if there's anything further to submit for the online application: - we had more to submit but maybe that was just us]
  9. Take your permit, your signed certificate from your instructor, your appointment confirmation number, your DL44 confirmation number and your working (lights, etc. have to all be in order), properly insured car to the DMV at least 15 minutes before your appointment time. Even with an appointment, be prepared to wait - it took 3 hours from start to finish for us because they don't have enough people available to give the 20-minute driving test.
  10. There's some more info about the process here: and here:

Good luck - hope that helps!

The behind the wheel training is done after your teen gets a permit. Before they can go to DMV to take the permit test they have to complete a DMV approved online driver's education course. Google it, there are many, I got a Groupon for one for only $15. When they complete the online course they are sent a certificate of completion that they take to DMV. Read the DMV requirements carefully before you go in to take the permit test. You have to bring a lot of documentation including birth certificate, social security card, proof of residency (2 forms such as utility bill and property tax statement). After they pass the written test at DMV they have to complete 6 hours of behind the wheel driver's training. My daughter did Coastline Academy. They were reasonably priced, not cheap, but not something you want to skimp on. She had three different instructors, she liked Diana Ze the best. They have to wait 6 months from the time they get their permit before they can take the test to get their provisional license. In that time they have to complete 50 hours of driving with parents, 10 of which have to be at night. Best of luck!

I think you will just have to google.  A couple of years ago when my kid was doing this, we were recommended to Berkeley Driving School for the in-car lessons.  At that time, they had a pointer to an on-line driver's ed course that, when completed, would give the kid the certificate of completion needed to get the permit.  It was supposedly 25 hours of training online, and although I'm not sure it took that long to do, it was quite a task and took my kid a few weeks to get through--he was also busy with other stuff.  Berkeley Driving School no longer has that link, not sure why, and CSAA doesn't seem to recommend any specific companies either.  So you may just have to google.  CSAA has some info here:  The part relevant to your question is under the heading "MInimum requirements in California", the paragraph where it talks about driver education.

I can recommend Berkeley Driving School for the in-car lessons.  By the way, your child needs to complete 2 hours of in-car lessons with a professional driving instructor, after he or she gets the permit, before driving with a parent.

I’m going to give you way more information than you requested because I really wish I had this before my kids and I learned the hard way!

  1. Get a DMV appointment now as they generally schedule months out. Save the appointment reference number, you’ll need this when you check in for the appointment. 
  2. Fill out the online DMV application for a driving license. Save the confirmation number you get at the end, you’ll need to reference it at the DMV. 
  3. Do an online drivers ed course (it’s the basic rules of the road). My kids did one called “My California Permit” that offers a $15 deal on Groupon. 
  4. Once your son passes the online course, he’ll be mailed a certificate of completion to bring to the DMV along with all the documentation necessary for his permit/license. I highly recommend getting him the RealID at this appointment. 
  5. He should take the practice tests on the DMV website before his appointment. 
  6. After he passes the DMV permit test, he needs one two-hour driving lesson with a driving school BEFORE he can start on his 50 hours of driving with you. He’ll need to take two more two-hour lessons prior to the road test. 
  7. Then he can schedule his road test and hopefully pass on the first try!

Good luck!