Last updateMon, 23 Oct 2017 3pm

On The Road

Written exam not the only way to secure driver's license


Q: Are there alternative methods for completing the driver’s license written examination?

A: The DMV offers multiple ways for completing the California Driver License written examination. The examination may be conducted in a foreign language, in American Sign Language, through audio (by listening to a cassette tape rather than being given reading material) or by having an examiner ask the questions (person-to-person examination).

The DMV advises those with special needs to contact their local driver’s license supervisor to have their needs better addressed. But please note: To allow sufficient time for testing, the DMV does not administer written or audio exams after 4:30 p.m.

Q: What is the California Motorcycle Safety Course?

A: The California Motorcycle Safety Course (Basic Rider Course) is a course provided by the California Motorcycle Safety Program (CMSP) and administered by the California Highway Patrol. The CMSP is California’s official motorcycle safety and training program.

All riders in California under 21 years of age must successfully complete this course to obtain a motorcycle license or endorsement. Upon successful completion of the course, riders will receive a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL389).

For information on the CHP training course, call (877) 743-3411 or visit www.ca-msp.org.

Q: I just bought a vehicle from my neighbor. Do I have to report it immediately to the DMV or can it wait?

A: If you just bought a car from a private party, you have 10 days from the date of sale to report the transfer of ownership to the DMV. Even if you do not have the required documents, all fees must be paid to the DMV within 30 days from the date of purchase.

Failure to pay the fees within the 30 days will result in transfer and use tax penalties. For more information, visit www.dmv.ca.gov.

Q: How old do I have to be to apply for a learner’s permit to begin driving?

A: You must be 15 1/2 but under 18 to apply for a learner’s permit. However, to be eligible to take the driving test, you must be 16, have held your permit for six months and have completed driver education, at least six hours of professional driver training and at least 50 hours of training with an adult 25 or older.

Q: I live in San Francisco, and sometimes I get a little worried about my parking brake when I’m parked on a hill. Is there anything I can do to make sure I’m being as safe as possible?

A: Making sure your wheels are turned the right way is crucial. Headed uphill, turn your front wheels away from the curb and let your vehicle roll back a few inches. The back of the wheel should gently touch the curb, and then you can set the parking brake. Headed downhill, turn your front wheels into the curb or toward the side of the road, and then set the parking brake. Always make sure the car will roll off the roadway if the parking brake should fail.

Q: When making a right turn on a green light, do I have to wait for pedestrians to cross, even if there is no crosswalk?

A: Unless there is a sign prohibiting pedestrian crossing, pedestrians have the right-of-way at an intersection, whether or not there is a marked crosswalk. This is a serious issue. One in six traffic fatalities is a pedestrian, so make sure you drive carefully at intersections, corners and other crosswalks.

To learn more about right-of-way rules, visit www.dmv.ca.gov/hdbk/.


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed George Valverde California Department of Motor Vehicles Director in March 2006. Valverde has been in public service for more than 30 years, focusing on operations and budget issues. Prior to his DMV appointment, he served as undersecretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency (2004-2005) and deputy secretary for fiscal operations (1995-2003).

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