How can I be sure to pass the CA drivers license test?
April 6, 2011 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Are there any good quick references or study guides for experienced drivers from other states (Washington in my case) taking the California drivers license written test?

I just moved to LA from Seattle, and I'm taking my drivers license test on Friday (as is my wife). We have the booklets, and I've looked at the DMV site, but there's a ton of info there, the vast majority of which is either common sense or stuff we already know after N years of driving in other states. I've had licenses in Nevada, Oregon and Washington. What I'm looking for is a quick rundown of:
  • Any major differences between California law and other states' laws (ideally something specific for Washington vs. California, but I'm not holding my breath)
  • Any trivia items that aren't obvious and are likely to be asked
  • Topics that tend to trip up experienced drivers taking the test

Does anything like this exist? I didn't find much in a Google search (mostly DMV pages and some spammy looking sites).
posted by sharding to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I honestly wouldn't worry about it too much. I read the booklet for an hour before I took the test when I moved there and it was so, so easy. Most of it is common sense and if you miss a trick question or two you will still pass the test.
posted by Kimberly at 10:00 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I really wouldn't worry about this. I moved to California, read the booklet while I was waiting in line for the test, and scored 100%. My partner had to retake the test just last year and he got one question wrong.

The thing to think about going in is the fact that it will likely take you two months to get your new driver's license, so plan to hang onto that temporary scrap of paper for a while.
posted by arnicae at 10:15 AM on April 6, 2011

The only thing that was news to me is that lane splitting on motorcycles is legal as long as the speed difference is less than some number, I think 10 or 20 mph.

If you fail, you can immediately retake it, same day, I believe.
posted by asphericalcow at 10:15 AM on April 6, 2011

It's very straightforward. The only thing I wasn't entirely familiar with was the curb colors and the various parking restrictions associated with each.
posted by hwyengr at 10:20 AM on April 6, 2011

I read the booklet in line waiting to take the test and missed one question, about DUI levels, in which I guessed too conservatively. Whatever. If you've managed to get licensed in three states, getting a California DL shouldn't be a problem.
posted by ambrosia at 10:22 AM on April 6, 2011

It is something you can just review while waiting at the DMV. The question I think I missed had to do with fines or license suspension for DUI.

The thing to think about going in is the fact that it will likely take you two months to get your new driver's license, so plan to hang onto that temporary scrap of paper for a while.

Weird, I got my within two weeks and thats when the DMV had two furlough days that month.
posted by birdherder at 10:29 AM on April 6, 2011

I had to take the written test late last year. I failed it, just barely. They let me retake 2 questions which I got right, and gave me the license. Other people in line were given the option to retake. I didn't realize I would have to take the test, so I'd tried to cram in the 5 minutes before I made it to the front of the line. Read the book and you should be fine.
posted by Zophi at 10:51 AM on April 6, 2011

I just used the booklet and studied for a week or so prior. The only part that was really unfamiliar to me was the law about which way to angle your tires when parking uphill vs downhill. I don't recall ever being asked this when I took driving tests elsewhere.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:59 AM on April 6, 2011

I had to take the test ~10 months ago. I just studied the practice exams on the CA DMV website the day or two before I went to the DMV. Most of these questions were recycled into the version of the test I took.

Good luck. Welcome to California!
posted by watch out for turtles at 9:51 PM on April 6, 2011

When I took it a few years ago I also missed a couple questions about the exact penalties for DUIs of various levels. Seemed like trivia to me. I passed anyway because the rest of the test was very straightforward. So I'd say study the DUI portion of the handbook right before you take it.
posted by everybody polka at 7:14 AM on April 7, 2011

Response by poster: Passed, three wrong (six wrong allowed). Thanks for the advice.

BTW, I thought I might not make it out with my license, because the computer system went down "statewide" (they said) between the time I gave them my check and the time I got to the camera to have my picture taken. However, I waited for about an hour and it came back online. Phew!
posted by sharding at 3:15 PM on April 8, 2011

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