Congratulations! Your teen has successfully passed their written California DMV test and received a learner's permit. He or she is ready to hit the California roads and begin working towards getting a driver's license. In as little as 6 months, your teen could be ready to go back to the DMV and take their behind-the-wheel driving test! You probably know that your teen will need at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel practice before he or she can take the test. But practice isn't enough. Here are five useful things for parents to know* :
*disclaimer* these tips only apply to California; I can't speak for any other state!
He/she can't drive home from the DMV
Before your teen can hit the road, he or she needs to take 2 hours of behind-the-wheel driving lessons with a licensed driving instructor at a DMV-approved program. After those 2 hours, the instructor will sign your teen's permit and they can begin practicing with mom or dad.
However, those 2 hours are not enough. Your teen will need at least 6 hours of behind-the-wheel driving lessons with a licensed driving instructor at a DMV-approved program, before he or she is allowed to take their driving test. There is no rule about how frequently to schedule these lessons. The best tip I received from savvy parents is to schedule your teen's final lesson just before they take their DMV behind-the-wheel driving test, so the instructor can do a practice run and help your teen watch out for common mistakes.
No backseat drivers allowed during driver's ed
Sorry, parents! We know it's a big moment, but parents are usually not allowed to join their teen when their teen takes behind-the-wheel driving lessons with an instructor. Helicopter parents will just have to content themselves with snapping a photo as their teen drives away.
Get your teen insured before his/her driving test
Your teen will not be allowed to take the driving test without proof of auto insurance coverage. So call your insurance agent before your teen makes his/her driving test appointment!
There are ways to save on teen auto insurance
There's no getting around it; auto insurance rates for teens are high. However, there are ways to lower the cost, so make sure you talk to your insurance agent and ask about :
- Bundled discounts (having discounts on multiple cars, or home and auto, with the same company)
- Secondary car discounts (restrict your teen to driving only 1 car, usually the older car)
- Good student discounts (teens with a certain GPA may qualify for discounts)
- Safe driver discounts (teens who take a defensive driving course may qualify for discounts)
Your teen can't drive off with the gang after his/her driving test
Even after passing the driving test, your teen does not gain full driving privileges. Their first driver's license is a provisional license, which lasts for 1 year after passing the driving test or until the teen turns 18, whichever comes first. The provisional license comes with a couple of significant restrictions:
- Teens with provisional license may not drive between 11:00 pm and 5:00 am.
- Teens with provisional licenses may not transport passengers under age 20.
There are exceptions to both rules (medical necessity, employer or school related, family members), but each exception must be documented and authorized (by doctors, employers, school, parents).
It's worth noting that police are not allowed to pull teens over if are otherwise driving legally. But if police pull over a teen for speeding or breaking some other driving law, they are allowed to make sure the teen is complying with their provisional license. If not, they can issue 2 tickets: one for the original infraction and one for violating the terms of the provisional license.
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