Driving is undoubtedly a heavy and incredible responsibility, so of course the process to become lawfully allowed to partake in it will take quite a while. All the trouble is worth it though— driving is one of the fastest and cheapest forms of transportation for long distances.
It typically takes at least 6 months due to permit requirements— the earliest possible path starts with getting a provisional instruction permit half a year after age 15. Then, it should be held for a minimum of 6 months while the driver-in-training does their required hours of practice. According to the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles, at least 50 hours (including 10 hours after dark) of practice in the company of someone 25+ years old, must be completed while having the provisional permit on-hand.
A state-approved driver’s education course must be taken as well as 6 hours of professional driver education. The classes can be taken either in person or online depending on what is being done, but the physical classes are recommended because they are easier to track and more widely accepted. There are many driving schools available in the Bay Area, both online and at high schools, but ensure that the one you are planning to learn from is credible and state-approved— it’s a good idea to check in with the DMV first.
After the 6 month period is complete and the requirements are fulfilled, you can make an appointment to take your practical driver’s test, but if the test is failed, there is a 2 week waiting period before a retest fee can be paid in order to try again. Unfortunately, if you fail the driver’s test three times, the application process has to be repeated (not including the hours of practice and classes), and completing this will allow you to attempt three more times.
Once you pass the test, a temporary license will be given to you, lasting for a maximum of 90 days— this is only so you can drive while waiting for your official driver’s license. It shouldn’t take more than 60 days to arrive, though, so make sure to keep track of whether or not the DMV should be contacted in order to find out the status of its validation and delivery.
When it arrives, you’re set. There are still some restrictions in the first 12 months for minors, though. Driving between 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM is prohibited, and you can’t drive people who are 20 years old or younger unless someone 25 or older is supervising in the car as well.
The importance of safe driving is indisputable— make sure to only get behind the wheel in full focus, sober, and rested, as to not hurt yourself or anyone else. If you wish to see the official handbook or guide, consult the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles.