For the past two years, people have been asking Munchkin if she had her driver license or when she was going to get it. When I was young (I feel so old saying that), it was “the norm” to get your driver license the moment you turned 16 years old. But, these days, many teenagers really aren’t that excited to drive. They’re perfectly fine with their parents or friends driving them, taking public transportation, or using rideshare services when needed. Or, they don’t want the responsibility of taking care of a car or costs associated with it (i.e. car insurance, maintenance, and gas). My daughter decided to hold off on applying for a driver permit for a variety of reasons. That was until today when she went in to take her written test (now called a knowledge test).
Getting a Driver Permit Appointment at the DMV
As soon as she finished an online driver’s ed course for California (which isn’t required if you’re 17½ but we thought it was good for her to do), she was ready to take her driver permit knowledge test. We all know the horror stories of waiting for hours on end at the DMV. So, to lessen our wait time as much as possible, my daughter went online to book an appointment.
She looked for availability at several local DMV locations. Even then, the soonest she could get an appointment was in three months. We had no idea the offices would be booked out so far in advance! If we knew that beforehand, we would have made an appointment way before she started studying for the test.
I was talking to one of my friends about this and she had a fantastic tip. She recently had to make an appointment at the DMV for a driving test but couldn’t get one before her permit expired. A DMV employee then told her to check for appointments between 8:30 – 10:30 am, Monday through Friday. That is when new time slots become available online. We tried this and it worked!
At first, we found an appointment one month earlier. A couple of weeks later, I checked again while Munchkin was at school. I was able to find a slot yet another month earlier. On a Saturday at that! There were even appointments as soon as the next day but those conflicted with her school schedule.
Applying for a Driver Permit & Required Paperwork
It was a good thing we made an appointment. When we arrived at the DMV, the non-appointment line stretched out the door and around the corner. The appointment line, however, only had one person waiting in it and we were helped pretty quickly. Sadly, we were missing one key document.
Since we didn’t live that far away, the DMV employee said she’d honor our appointment if we went home to get the paper and came back. When we returned, there was no line and we were helped right away. We were then given a number and had to wait our turn. My daughter’s number came up 15 minutes later.
So you don’t have to experience this, make sure your teen brings their birth certificate and some proof of residency. If you’re not sure which document to use, it’s better to bring several options to be safe. We used the confirmation letter she got for her Known Traveler Number. If your teen doesn’t have a bill, pay stub, insurance paper, or an official document with their name on it, you can use one of yours. The birth certificate will prove of your relationship as the parent. Bring their social security card to apply for a REAL ID driver license (needed to travel by plane starting in 2020 if they don’t have a passport). Don’t forget the driver education completion certificate if the teen is under 17½.
The employee looked through her paperwork, verified the application she already submitted online, scanned in her documents, checked her vision, and scanned her thumbprint. As a reminder, if both parents live in the home, make sure that both parents sign the application.
Taking the Knowledge / Written Test for a Driver Permit
Then it was time to get her photo taken and to start the test. No cell phones are allowed in the testing area (for obvious reasons) so I was only able to get a photo from afar. The knowledge test for a driver permit is taken on one of the many the computers at the DMV. The program corrects your answers as you go through the test. You have to get at least 38 of the 46 questions right. If you get more than 8 questions wrong, then you can take the test again after 7 days.
Munchkin was so nervous about taking the test. She wouldn’t even let me post anything on social media about being at the DMV for her driver permit in case she failed. Well, all that studying and all those practice tests paid off. Munchkin passed on her first try! The only thing left was for her to stand in the Corrections line and get her driver permit. She was so relieved this first hurdle was finally over and that it went smoothly. Her only regret is the less than flattering driver license photo she took. Hehehe. 😅
A Parent’s Task After Your Teen Gets a Driving Permit
So now my daughter has a driver permit and can start learning to drive. Frans and I (mostly Frans because he’s more patient) will be doing most of the training. She doesn’t have to get driver training lessons with an instructor since she’s 17½ but that’s always an option if she needs it. But, I’m sure she’ll be fine as I taught Frans when he first moved to this country and he’s actually a better driver than me now. Regardless, I’ll continue to update you as we teach her how to drive and as she progresses to getting her driver license.