“Let’s go to LA! I’ll drive on the way there, and you drive on the way back.”
“Can you drive me to the airport? You can use my car.”
“Drive me to Frank for brunch!”
Unlike the overwhelming majority of students at CMC, I am not in possession of a state-issued driver’s license and it would thus be illegal for me to complete any one of these tasks.
Having grown up blessed with a beautiful concept known as the NYC subway system, I took fully-functioning public transportation systems for granted, and it wasn’t until I committed to CMC my senior year of high school that I considered even taking Driver’s Ed.
While it took some motivation, I am currently practicing for my test, and hope to take it some point next month.
So whether you’re an international student seeking an American license, a fellow spoiled New Yorker struggling to get around, or a rare Californian who’s sick and tired of getting teased for not knowing how to drive — they exist — follow these steps to successfully get on the road.
Get Your Permit
The first step in the seemingly impossible process of getting your license is obtaining your state learner’s permit.
The state of California requires all drivers who have never held a valid license to obtain a California-sanctioned learner’s permit before taking their road test. Unfortunately, this means that if you have an out-of-state permit or even a non-U.S. driver’s license, you’ll still have to take this test.
The DMV written permit test contains questions about California traffic laws, road signs, and rules of safe driving. There are 46 questions on the exam, and a passing score is at least 38 correct answers.
Though you have three tries to pass the exam, the DMV requires you to wait seven days before taking it again.
Once you pass the written permit test and pay $33, you’ll earn your provisional permit. The $33 fee covers a total of 3 exams within a 12-month period and pays for your provisional learner’s permit and driver’s license. However, if all requirements are not met within 12 months, the application is considered void and you must repeat all the steps mentioned above.
Though the majority of questions on the test are common sense (keep in mind, this is coming from a New Yorker), a couple of them can be pretty random and oddly specific, so make sure to study a bit beforehand by reading the manual.
See practice test here.
Here’s a checklist on what to bring to the DMV.
DMV Locations Close to Claremont
Pomona DMV Office
1600 S. Garey Ave.
Pomona, CA 91766
Rancho Cucamonga DMV Office
8629 Hellman Ave.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
West Covina DMV Office
800 S. Glendora Ave.
West Covina, CA 91790
Fontana DMV Office
8026 Hemlock Avenue
Fontana, CA 92336
Learn and Practice
Once you’ve received your permit, you can then move on to actually learning how to drive.
If you’ve never actually driven before, it might be worth investing in at least one formal lesson to get the basics down.
Once you feel comfortable at the wheel, you can either continue with formal instruction, taking private classes, or even the entire Driver’s Ed course.
Another option is to practice on your own. If your friends feel comfortable enough, borrow one of their cars and go take a ride, whether it be driving them to In-N-Out or practicing parking in the Bauer parking lot.
Tip: Block out driving slots in your schedule. Even if it’s only one or two hours, aim to consistently practice throughout the week. Though there is no requirement for hours, the California DMV recommends that drivers have at least 35 hours of experience before taking their test.
Driving Schools Close to Claremont:
Imperial Driving & Traffic School
425 N Central Ave · (909) 982-9485
New Prudential Driving & Lucy’s Traffic School
1146 N Garey Ave · (909) 629-4650
Five Star Driving School
4943 Holt Blvd · (909) 621-3700
Once you feel confident behind the wheel, call the DMV and schedule your road test.
Though there are a number of DMVs around the Claremont area, some are known to give easier tests than others, so it’s worth doing some research.
For example, Rancho Cucamonga is known for having a straightforward and relatively easy test. Pomona’s route, on the other hand, includes a hidden stop sign. Regardless of which location you do end up picking, it’s worth practicing around the area beforehand so you know what to expect on the day of your exam.
CMC senior Naina Mullick ‘17, who passed her road test just last week, also encourages students to be flexible during the exam. “DMV instructors really vary in terms of what they want to see and what they judge you on. Try and adapt to your instructor as much as possible.”
Let your friends know before you schedule your test as you’ll have to be accompanied by an individual who already has his or her license, and don’t forget to bring your own eligible vehicle.
To schedule your exam, click here.
Check out this guide for more info.
Though getting your license in Claremont might seem like an impossible feat, it is actually quite feasible if you’re committed and organized.