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Unlicensed Driving

Is driving without a valid license really a big deal?
The short answer to this is "Yes", for many reasons. First of all, driving without a valid license is against the law and you can expect serious consequences if you are caught driving without one. Secondly, people who generally feel that they are above the law and that "laws are meant to be broken" will often have a general disregard for their own safety and the safety of others on the road and therefore have a greater risk of causing accidents. Lastly, if you don't have a driver's license you either have not taken and/or passed a driving test and therefore are uneducated on the rules of the road or you have not followed the rules of the road and your license has been suspended or revoked permanently. Either way, this type of inexperience or dangerous driving can also lead to many accidents.

Accidents caused by unlicensed or inexperienced drivers are a major concern in California.
Major studies indicate that the most common cause of death for teens in the United States is traffic accidents. An inexperienced driver does not have the years behind them that can come in handy in an emergency situation. But car-handling experience is not the only reason teens get into accidents. Many young drivers think they are better drivers than they are. The truth is, most teen drivers haven't yet learned the judgment to recognize potentially dangerous situations―such as showing off to friends.

What are the penalties for getting caught driving without a valid license in California?
Driving without a valid license is a misdemeanor in California, and may be punished by probation, time in county jail, and fines of up to $1000 plus surcharges. The vehicle you are driving may be impounded for 30 days and possibly forfeited. Also, if you let someone else drive your vehicle and they are unlicensed, or driving with a suspended or revoked license, your vehicle may be impounded and possibly forfeited. The registered owner will have to pay the towing and the 30-day storage fee to get the vehicle back at the end of this period. Consider the financial burden and trouble this will cause you or, more likely, your parents.

The process of getting a license is simple but can take some time.
There's a reason why driver's licenses are only given to those who earn them. Once behind the wheel of a car, you're responsible for a very dangerous weapon that has the capability to hurt or kill someone or yourself, if misused or abused. Being able to drive a car should be considered a privilege earned and one you'll keep by driving responsibly.

How does a teen obtain a drivers license?
In California, potential drivers under the age of 18* must complete a Driver's Education Course before they can apply for a Provisional Permit. Once you turn 18, you can take your driver's test and apply for a Driver's License. To apply for a Provisional Permit, you will need the following:
  • Be at least 15 ½, but under 18 years of age.
  • Visit a DMV office (make an appointment for faster service).
  • Complete the application form DL 44 (An original DL 44 form must be submitted. Copies obtained by xeroxing, faxing, or other methods will not be accepted.)
  • Have your parents' or guardians' signatures on the application form DL 44.
  • Give a thumb print.
  • Have your picture taken.
  • Provide your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your birth date and legal presence.
  • Provide your true full name.
  • Submit the proper form(s) for driver education and/or driver training classes.
  • Pay the application fee (This fee entitles you to three exams of any type within the 12-month period and pays for both the instruction permit and the driver license. If all requirements are not met within the 12-month period, the application becomes void and all steps must be completed again.)
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Pass a traffic laws and sign test. There are 46 questions on the test. A passing score is at least 39 correct answers. You have three chances to pass the test. If you fail, you must wait 7 days before taking it again.

    * If you are over 17 ½ but under 18 years of age, you may get your permit without the driver education and driver training certificates however, you will not be able to take the driving test until you turn 18.
For more information about the requirements above, please visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Some information on this page has been extracted from the following online resources:
DMV.org and DMV (California)

What do you think about people who drive without a valid license? Do you think it's risky? Have you ever driven a car without a valid license? What do you think about the driver's license laws in California? Do you think the laws should be changed? Do you know anyone who was hurt as a result from driving a car without a license?
Discuss these questions and opinions in the Unlicensed Driving Forum

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