How to get a DMV appointment in California?

How to get a DMV appointment in California?

DMV Appointment is your first step to get a Driver License in United States. While every state has slightly different practice, we’ll focus on how to get a DMV appointment in California. I also want to share my experiences.


Check DMV Offices

Firstly, you have to check your local DMV office. You can do it either visiting the official DMV website or just you can check https://www.dmvcalifornia.us/dmv-offices link in our website. This is important in terms of logistics. Because if the local DMV office is closer to you, you can get there easily. But keep in mind that in California State, DMV offices issue more than 2 million driver licenses per year. Some of them are renewals. This means, it is better you check the local DMV offices work load.


Online DMV Appointment

You have two options. You can either visit local DMV office nearby or you can get an online appointment from DMV website. DMV official website is too complicated.

If you are not good at browsing on the internet, here is a quick link for you to get DMV Appointment. 



As you can see on the snapshot, there are four options to select. So if you don’t have a driver license, you’ll click on “Office Visit Appointment”.

In this section, The Appointment System will ask you some questions. The first thing is to choose local DMV office. You can choose any of the office in the borders of California. But the nearest one is the ideal one typically.

Tip: Check at least 3 different offices nearby. Their work load is different. While one of them may give an appointment 1 month later, the other one may give to a closer date like 10 days later.



So choosing this option gives you easy access. There are two lines in DMV offices. One line is for people who come without appointment. I’ll come to that later. The other one is for people who get an online DMV Appointment. If you don’t like to wait in line for a long time, your choose should be “Online Appointment”.

DMV Appointment

Other options are “Behind the Wheel Drive Test.” I’ll come to that later also. If you are a commercial driver, then choose the third one.

You can also check or cancel your previous appointments if you forgot the exact appointment date.

You only need to enter your first name, surname and phone number that you have entered while you took your online appointment. It will show you the appointment date. It is that simple.



Here is a snapshot of “View or Cancel Appointment” tool.



Normally, if you are lucky, you’ll get your online appointment in three weeks time. If you don’t want to wait that much, you can go to nearest local office.

DMV Visit Without Appointment

So you think that you are in urgency and need your Driver License as soon as possible. You can visit local office. But you have to consider the long waiting time. It may take up to 3 to 4 hours before an officer finally check your papers.

TIP: DMV office hours start at 8 a.m. So It is better you go to office at 7.30 a.m. Otherwise probably you’ll wait on the queue till 1 p.m.

DMV Appointment

Never ending queue in Laguna Hills DMV Office

You also choose a pair of comfortable sports shoes that will make your feet less ache during your long waiting period.

DMV Appointment

So the main advantage of online appointment, you are not waiting in this queue. There are two entrances in every local DMV office. One is for people who come without appointment. The other one is for people who did an online appointment.



The officers are taking one person from never ending queue and one person from online appointment queue.

TIP: Check your papers before coming to DMV office. Otherwise you need to print them out again and it will cost you time and money.

You have to have original photo ID and proof of residency. What does this mean?

Legal Presence in USA

If you are applying for a Driver License or Identification Card for the first time then there are two options:

  • If you are a US Citizen, you can show your birth certificate or Passport. They only accept the originals of the documents.
  • If you are not a US Citizen, your foreign passport with photo ID will work for you.

Proof of Residency

You should bring at least two documents that will prove that you reside in US.  Any two of listed items will be enough:

  • Electric Bill
  • Gas Bill
  • Phone Bill
  • Your contract with the landlord

Your current address must be written of these documents clearly.


If you are a foreigner and you have F1, F2, B1, B2 or similar visa types, then you should additionally bring related papers with you.

TIP: If you are an F-1 student, don’t forget to bring your original I-20 document and I-94 document. You can download your I-94 status from this address. Print it out and keep a copy with you.


Sample I-94 form


When it is your turn, an officer will check your papers. If your papers are okay then you’ll get a queue number. The second wait time is around 45 minutes to 1 hour. So if you go to office as early as like 8 a.m., this means you’ll wait till 11 a.m. So after that you need to wait 1 more hour. You can follow your number from the boards.

When finally it is your turn, another officer will make a quick eye test for you. There are small white boards behind the officers. Numbers or letter are written on these boards. If you use lens or glasses, it is better to inform the DMV officer. Otherwise if you fail the eye exam, you’ll waste your day.


After the exam and other procedures, you’ll give finger print and they’ll take your photo.

INFO: This photo will be final and you have no chance to change it later. It’ll appear on your Driver License or ID card. So better go DMV Office well dressed, shaved and with make-up. Or get ready a horrible picture on your DL.

Your final stage will be written exam. You are free to choose any of the computers. The exam is ready for you. You just need to enter your finger print to access the exam. It will automatically start. You’ll learn whether your pass or fail at the end of online written exam.

If you pass, your next step will get an DMV Appointment for Driving test.





You need to wait at least 24 hours to take an Behind the Wheel Drive Test appointment. After you click on the correct button, this screen will come out. All you need to do is fill out the form and wait your Driving Test date.



If you pass the written test, DMV will give you a temporary permit. Your permid ID is written on this paper. You should enter it correctly to the form above to get an appointment.

What is the minimum age in California for driver license?

Typically, if you are at the of 16, you can obtain a driver license but the age may vary from state to state. While minimum age to obtain a driver license is 14 years 3 months in South Dakota, it is 17 for New Jersey state. Before getting an DMV appointment in California, you should know that the minimum age in California is 16 but there are some restrictions for minors.



First of all, a driver license holder who is at the age of 16, can not drive any passenger below 20 years old. Also, it is forbidden for the restricted driver license holders to drive from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

 

 

What to do in a California car accident?



Accidents happen so it’s a good idea to know a head of time what you are required to do if you are involved in a crash in California.

Do you know what to do in a California car accident?

First and foremost you must stop. And if anyone is hurt you are required to get help. In addition you must give your name, address, and vehicle registration number to others involved in the accident.

California has close to 250,000 vehicle crashes every year and most common cause is careless driving, which means the driver was not driving taking into account curves, width of road, traffic, corners, the grade of the road (steepness), and other conditions that effect driving.

Don’t Leave the Scene




If you leave the scene of an accident that involves injuries without providing your information your license may be revoked.

Report the Traffic Accident

Any car accident that involves injuries or property damage over $500 must be reported. In these situations you should call the local police department, sheriff, or the California Highway Patrol. If an officer investigates the accident they will file a report.

Don’t Block Traffic

If traffic is being blocked by your car you must move it. If you can’t move it yourself, you are required to get help or call a tow truck. Your car should never block traffic in any situation.




Ticket and Traffic Court

Many accidents are caused by a driver that broke traffic laws. If that is the case then an investigating officer will file charges against the offending driver. If you are charged in a traffic accident you will have the opportunity to explain what happened in court. Then the traffic court will decide what the penalty is. In many cases you will be required to complete a Traffic Collision Avoidance Course (TCAC).

Traffic Collision Avoidance Course

A TCAC course is a California traffic school course designed to remind drivers of safe driving techniques. It can be completed online, in a classroom, or with a video. When you complete your TCAC course you will receive a certificate from the course provider that you must deliver to the court.

The California Drivers Association offers a TCAC traffic course online and on video. If you would prefer to attend a classroom then look in your local yellow pages under driving instruction.

Auto Accidents with an Unattended Vehicle

If you hit a car, truck or other vehicle that is parked with no one it you must inform the owner. Leave a note with your name, address, and license plate and report the accident to local police, sheriff, or Florida highway patrol.

How many car collisions happen in California?



California is one the biggest states of United States. Estimations show that 39,5 million people live in California state. As of 2015, there are 14,5 million registered cars in CA. Only 230,976 of them are owned by public authorities.

There endless roads and highways in California but do you know how many car accidents happen in California and how many people have died in car collisions?

According the statistics between 2005 and 2014, total number of fatal collisions are 30,731. Total number of people died in these collisions are 33,744.

This means in every fatal accident, 1,1 person has died in state of California. But the good news is; every year since 2005, number of fatal collisions seem to be declining.

Fatal Collisions in CA from 2005 to 2014



When we look at the injury numbers, the overall picture is not good enough. At the same period, 2,5 million people were injured in car collisions. This numbers proves how important is to be a good driver and obey the traffic rules even sometimes they bother us.

While in 2005, the death rate according to mileages made by vehicles were 1,31; in 2014 this number dropped to 0,93. This is the good news from California state roads.

In California, most accidents happen to be in fall, namely starting from September, collision numbers seem to be increasing during winter season.

How to obtain car accident report in California?

Do you know how to obtain car accident report in California? Here are some tips and tricks:

If you involve in a car accident in California, first thing to do is to report DMVCalifornia. But before informing DMV, there are some conditions:

  1. Property damage in each of cars must be higher than 1.000 USD ( This limit was 750 USD before but has changed after January 1, 2017)
  2. If anyone was injured in this car accident including minors
  3. If someone killed in the accident.
  4. none of the above, you don’t need to inform DMV

Car Accident Report

how to obtain car accident report

Make a report to DMV within ten days. You should remember that each driver must make a report separately. It doesn’t matter whether you caused the collision or not.

You have to send the report to the address below. You can find the address on the Traffic Accident Report.

Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 942884
Sacramento, CA 94824-0884

 

  • Traffic Accident Report (SR 1) PDF

What else you should do?

Do not panic and leave the scene without exchanging your name, address and VIN number with the other driver that involved the accident. Better you take a photo of the accident scene and be careful not to block the traffic. You can move your car after you take the pictures. If you can’t move it by yourself, you can call a tow truck.

Better you take a copy of car accident report that we gave the link above and keep it in your car.

What if you hit a car, parked in the street? Do you need car accident report as well?

If you hit a car, truck or other vehicle that is parked with no one it you must inform the owner. Leave a note with your name, address, and license plate and report the accident to local police, sheriff, or California highway patrol.

Driver License



You are excited to ride your car but you don’t have your California driver license yet. Here are the easy steps that leads to obtain a driver license in California:

Eligibility to obtain California Driver License

You must at least be 15½ years old to be eligible. If you are under 18, you need your parents or guardians approval.

You can then get an appointment from DMV website or you can visit the nearest local DMV office. If you want to get the driver license a.s.a.p., visiting local DMV office is a much better choice hence if you try to get online appointment, DMV will arrange an appointment 2-3 weeks later at earliest if you are lucky enough.

California Driver License

DMV Office

You need some papers that proof your identity, residence, etc. Here is a list of items you need:



You need to fill out “Driver License or Identification Card Application”  aka DL 44″. There is no option to fill this card online but you can call DMV and order it by mail or you can fill it out when you visit local DVM office. Too see a sample of DL-44 card, click here.

California Driver License fee

You have to  pay application fee which is  $ 33 for non-commercial class c California Driver License. Click here for all other Driver License/Identification Card Application Fees.

If you are under 18, you’ll take 46 questions, if you are over 18, then you’ll take 36 questions. You need to to score 85 over 100 points in order to pass the test. If your native language is not English, you can take the test in your mother tongue.

Here is the list of other languages:

Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Persian/Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino, Thai, Tongan, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

Proof residency for Driver License

You must provide at least 2 documents to proof your residency in California. Your lease contract, your home utility bill, your school or employment documents may proof your residency.

Vision Exam



DMV officials check your vision and if you are qualify, you are ready for the test. If not, you can be guided to use eye-glasses.

Driver Test Sample

Go to the local DVM office as early as possible. After you fill out the application form and pay the fee, you’ll take the written Driving Test. To test yourself click here.

If you pass the test at your first try, DMV officials will take a photo of you. If there is nothing suspicious related to your documents (Such as F1 visa requirement etc.), you’ll get your license in 2-3 weeks by mail. It may take up to 3-4 months because of other security checks.

DMV will give you a temporary permit till you get your original driver license. You also have to take on wheel driving test. After you complete test, you need to take another appointment for behind the wheel driving test. You can set the appointment online. Click here for online appointment.

There are some tips and trick not to fail behind the wheel driving test. Click here for the tips.

California driver’s license issue date

California driver’s license issue date might be difficult to find on your driver license. If you look at the driver’s license card carefully, you can see that your California driver’s license issue date is written on the right bottom corner of your card, marked as ISS.

California Driver's License Issue Date

In the sample California driver’s license card, you can see ISS is September 30, 2010. So this is your official issue date. It is the abbreviation of Issue Date, shortened as ISS. And here how the reverse side of Driver License looks:

California Driver's License Issue Date

What is DD on California Driver’s License?

There is also other abbreviations on the card. On the left of ISS, you can see “DD”. If you wonder what is DD on California driver’s license?
California Driver's License Issue Date




DD stands for “Document Discriminator” which shows your drivers license number and also these numbers indicates which DMV you got your license from.

What does RSTR stand for?

RSTR stands for “Restrictions”. There are various restrictions which can be placed on a driver’s license. Most common example is, some drivers must have prescription glasses when driving.  If you have any restriction codes listed, you probably should already know what they mean. If not, log onto the DMV website, and there should be some easy explanation. It is not worth making a trip to the DMV. You can try internet and find your RSTR.

Register to DMV for a better service

Click this link for easy registration

There are some online services and applications in DMV that requires registration. In order to get a better service you can register. DMV will allow registered users personalized access to additional services.





If you want to check information regarding below, you have to register:

  • Driver Record
  • Vehicle Record
  • Change of Address
  • Driver License/Identification Card Renewal
  • Traffic Accident Report – SR1 Eform
  • Vehicle Registration Email Reminder Program

In order to become a registered user, what you need is:

  • Valid email address
  • Driver license or identification card number
  • Last four digits of your social security number

 

5 things that may happen if you don’t report car accident



You just had an car accident but you decide not to inform DMV and your insurance company. The damage is not that much and other car has less damage as well. So you both agree not to notify DMV. Here are 5 things that may happen to you if you don’t give car accident report to your local DMV.

You may lose your driver license

You are obliged to report car accidents that costs more than $ 1.000 to DMV. This figure was $ 750 before January 1, 2017. You have to reporting in 10 days. This means, if you don’t report in 10 days, DMV could suspend your driver license.

You may pay fine up $1.000




If you don’t report the accident, you may think that you’ll avoid an increase in your car insurance and also you may avoid more negative points on your record. But according to California law, if you don’t report the accident and leave the scene without California Vehicle Code (Section 20002), this will be regarded as misdemeanor and if you are lucky, judge will give you a fine up to $ 1000.

You may go to jail because of car accident you didn’t report

There is a possibility that the same judge, who might like your misdemeanor, send you to the jail for six months at least. Worst, you can both go to jail and obliged to pay the fine.

Other driver may put all blame on you




Your perfect scenario failed and other driver changed her/his mind and give up bypassing auto insurance and file a report to DMV. If you exchanged relevant information (insurance number, driver license info etc) along with your phone number, the driver of other car may lay all the blame on you for the accident. If he or she files a damage claim against you because you didn’t report the accident, you can face some very ugly results and pay costly damage fees for other driver.

Insurance company may cancel your policy

This is not maybe the worst outcome but if you avoid going jail or paying the penalty, your insurance company may cancel your policy because of your misdemeanor. In some cases, if you are injured in the accident for instance, you can’t report in 10 days. But you can have a passenger with you file the report in 10 days or you can hire an attorney.

Top 10 DMV Behind The Wheel Mistakes

You live in United States and you know how to drive. Or you just move to USA and you are a good driver in your home country. You need a California Driver License and you passed DMV written driving test. You also need to succeed “Behind The Wheel Test” which is more difficult than written test.




10 Most Common DMV Behind The Wheel Test Mistakes

Written test is kinda easy. If you fail, you can take it and you can work at home, you can read past driving test questions and take sample tests to improve your knowledge. But in United States, driving on the road is a different story and especially in California, some traffic practices might be different than home country or another state of US.

So here are some tip and trick for you and top ten mistakes most people do while they are taking DMV California Behind The Wheel Test.

1. Unsafe Lane Change

This is one of basic reasons why most drivers fail in the test.  If you don’t change the lane safely, the examiner for sure will not let you complete the test. Here are three things you have to do for safe lane change:

  • Use your signals first
  • Check your mirrors
  • Check the blind spot by looking your turning side.

2. Failure to Yield

If the signal is green and you prepare for left turn, you have to stop before all coming traffic to see whether they are turning or coming straight, wait for the pedestrians to cross. After that you can complete your left turn. So first you have to yield even the light is green and there is no signal for left turn.



Don’t worry if you are in the intersection and the light turns red before you complete your turn. You entered legally on green light. So other traffic has to wait for you to clear before they can proceed.

3. Failure to Stop

In United States, you have to stop completely if you see a “stop” sign as if this is a red light. Even if the intersection empty and there is no pedestrian on the road, you have to “stop” completely. Most drivers also stop on the “limit line” or after they pass the “limit line” a little bit. All those are mistakes that make you fail the test.

If there is a school bus on the road and red lights of the school bus are on. In this case whether you are on the same side of the bus or opposite side of the bus, you have to make a complete stop till the “red lights of the bus” go off.

4. Illegal Left Turn

When you have a double left turn lane, you can get into the inside lane or outside lane. When you make a left turn on green light, if you are in the inside lane, you have to end your left turn in the inside lane.

Behind The Wheel Test Mistakes

If you are on the outside lane, you can end your left turn in either lane of outside lanes. Most drivers do not their left turn in the same lane they have started. This is one of the common mistakes.



Behind The Wheel Test Mistakes

5. Improper Speed

School Speed Limit in CaliforniaYou have to obey speed limits always. If the limit is 65 miles per hour, you have to drive at this limit or slower. Sometimes the weather and road conditions force you to drive slower. Otherwise you shouldn’t drive too slow. This may cause congestion in the traffic.

If you are in a school zone and it says “Speed limit 25 when children are present”, this means if kids are around walking in the pedestrian zone, your speed limit is 25. If there is no one then you can drive on the regular speed limit.

6. Lack of Experience

If you are not experienced enough, you’ll probably fail in the driving test. There are some situations that you can learn by experience not by reading from the books. An ambulance is approaching and you don’t know what to do and you freeze in the car without anything. This will be a good reason for you to fail the test. So practice! Practice! Practice! before entering “Behind The Wheel Test”.

7. Unfamiliar with Vehicle

Behind the wheel mistakes

If you go to driving test with a borrowed or rental car, probably you don’t know your vehicle’s properties very well. This may cause get excited in the test and make you panic. At the beginning of the test, DMV examiner asks questions about vehicle’s specific items such as how to open trunk or flashlights. For example, it is raining and you don’t how to turn on your windshield wipers. You failed! Know your car before entering the test.

8. Poor Scanning

You have to scan everywhere during the “Behind The Wheel Test.” If you only look straight ahead and concentrate what is in front of you, yo can miss pedestrians who prepares to cross the street or you can miss the traffic signs. You have to scan sides, mirrors and road always while driving.



9. Too Cautious

Some people think that being extra cautious will make them pass the driving test. Caution is good but too much can create traffic hazards. If you overly cautious, you can hesitate while you make your left turn and this may cause confusion on the other drivers. So be assertive and relax! It is not rocket science.

10. Unfamiliarity with Traffic Situations

Behind the wheel traffic test may take place in an unfamiliar territory that you didn’t drive before. For example, you are in a commercial zone and there is no speed limit sign and you are driving over 40 miles per hour. Big mistake! You have to know that if there is no speed limit sign, the limit is 25 miles per hour by default. So it is better to go to the exam area earlier and check the surroundings and make yourself familiar with traffic situations such as roundabouts, traffic signals, speed limits etc.

If you want to pass the test, try avoid ten common behind the wheel test mistakes that most applicants do. Otherwise you have to take test many times till you get your driver license.