Thinking Caps

Friday, December 5, 2014

California DMV Experience

Been driving for awhile in California and finally reached the dreadful moment to get tested.

Although, DMV website has good information on all the details to get your driving license, I thought I'd give my account from what I've understood so far.

Please check out the process first on the DMV site incase it has changed over time. The experiences below are just to remind/help you if things go sideways.

Process:
The process listed below are for a non-citizen trying to apply for a California Drivers License.

Steps:
1. Schedule an appointment from DMV for your Written Test
2. Fill out the forms before your appointment. Make sure you have the relevant documents
3. After you've cleared your written test,  schedule your Behind the Wheel appointment
4. Practice all that has been described in the Drivers Ed/DMV Videos before the actual test
5. Give the test and wait for your drivers license

Appointments:
1. Try to get the appointment by calling the Toll Free number for the written Test.
2. You need to get the first appointment for the "Office Visit" to complete the Written Test.
3. Clear the Written Test to get the Temporary Permit (printed paper) having the License no.
4. Now you can get the Behind the Wheel Test appointment.

Written Test:
1. Prepare by going through the Drivers Handbook
2. Take a few sample tests online
3. Practice the rules

DMV Test:
1. Review the Drivers Handbook
2. Learn to drive calmly in various conditions- residential, commercial, weather conditions etc.
3. Practice the route near the DMV that you plan to take your test from
4. Documents: Car Insurance, DMV Registration, Temporary/Instructional Permit
5. Need to drive your own car. If used then please familiarize yourself well.

Personal Experiences:
These are personal experiences which may help others to avoid certain problems.

Appointment:
-You could get your appointment online but it does not show up when your search for it after the date/time slot has been allocated.
- I finally called the toll free number to confirm the appointment for the booked slots. Its easier to have them call you back rather than wait in the queue.

Written Test:
- Initially I thought that the rules are simple and can be learnt easily. The only way to know the rules well is to practice them.
- You could also go through the practice tests for the last few years to gain the required confidence of taking the test.
- When I took the test at the Santa Clara DMV, they had provided us with Touch Screen machines to take the test. Its quite simple and easy to use the setup.

Permit Type:
 - Please try to avoid the Instructional Drivers Permit which mandates that you drive with someone holding a Permanent Drivers Permit.
- You need to get your Temporary Drivers Permit if you have an International Drivers license or a license from your country of origin.

Behind the Wheel:
- Try to drive as confident as you normally do and at the end of the experience try to be calm no matter what the outcome. You have 3 tries to get your license.
- I received the 'Unsatisfactory' result when I tested for the license the first time.
- I've yet to go for the next test, but I believe it would be good to drive a few practice runs with another driver who has gone through the driving test.

References:
DMV:
How to Prepare for your DMV Behind the Wheel Drive Test
Behind the Wheel Test Video

Blogs:
Behind the Wheel Driving Test in Freemont
DMV Videos
Five Life Saving Moves
DMV Behind the Wheel Test
Map of Santa Clara Driving Test Routes

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