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On The Road

Are out-of-state visitors legally allowed to drive in California?

Q: My mother and brother are coming to visit from New York next month for three weeks. I’m worried that they won’t be able to drive themselves around when I’m at work. She has a valid New York driver license, and my brother, who is 16, just obtained his New York license. Will this be enough for them to drive in California?

A: In your mother’s case, visitors over age 18 with a valid driver license from their home state or country will be allowed to drive without getting a California driver license. However, because your brother is a provisional driver under age 18, he will only be allowed to drive for the first 10 days of his visit using his New York license. After the 10-day period, he will need a California driver license or a Nonresident Minor’s Certificate, issued by the DMV to a minor who has provided proof of financial responsibility. Visit dmv.ca.gov and click the “Online Services” tab to make an appointment.

Q: I haven’t been to the DMV in a while, and I recently received a letter to renew my driver license and was told I could do it online. But I would like to take a new picture because I’ve lost more than 40 pounds by exercising and look a lot different on my DMV picture. What do I need to do, and how much will a new license cost me?

A: If you want to have a new picture taken, you need to visit a field office. Make an appointment for faster service by visiting dmv.ca.gov or calling (800) 777-0133. Bring your driver license renewal letter with you. Field office employees will administer a vision test and take an electronic thumbprint and new photo. Because you are eligible to renew online, you should not be required to take a written test.

Depending on the class of driver license you possess, the renewal fees can vary. Your renewal notice shows the fees required.

Check your address before you leave the DMV and notify a DMV representative if your address is incorrect. You will be issued an interim license valid for 60 days until you receive your new driver license in the mail.

Q: My wife and I would like to obtain a California ID card for our daughter, who just turned 18 months. Can a baby or toddler apply for a California ID? Will a DMV employee take her photo or should I bring one?

A: To obtain a California Identification card for a minor, you will need the child’s certified birth certificate. Check with the county clerk-recorder or office of vital records to obtain a birth certificate.

Once you have the required documents, visit a DMV office. The parent or guardian will need to fill out an Identification Card Application (DL 44) and check the Original ID Card box. Make sure you know the child’s height and weight when filling out the application. You also must provide the child’s Social Security number.

Next, your child’s thumbprint will be captured electronically and his or her picture taken. You should receive your child’s new California ID card within 30-60 days.

Q: Is it true that minors are never allowed to use cellphones when driving, even with a hands-free device?

A: That is correct. It is against the law for a minor to use a cellphone while driving, even one equipped with a hands-free device. Drivers under 18 are allowed to use their cellphones only when the vehicle is safely stopped or parked. Minors violating the law are subject to fines.

There is one exception to the law: A minor may use a cellphone in an emergency situation to contact law enforcement, a health-care provider, the fire department or another emergency entity.

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